Examining the Good and Bad CGI of Immortel

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Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified film-related topic. These articles will be notified by the Movielinx banner. Movielinx is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with film. This month we investigate characters in film that are not made of flesh and bone, but bits and bytes born from hours of programming. Join us as we discuss CGI characters both good and bad. 


Architecture

Most of the structures in the film are beautifully designed, resembling an old, decaying, city that has been neglected over the years while technology continued to advanced. An example of this can be seen in the opening credits as a shuttlecraft pulls away from a platform toward the city.

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In the next scene you find yourself inside a pyramid with a less than perfect image of wiring filtering down into a base where the tombs of ancient Egyptian gods lay dormant. At the top of the base is a large hole with finger-like tendrils radiating from the center. The quality of these tendrils is very flat, with little to no shadowing effects. From what I can gather is the fingers make an image of a sun.

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Farther down the base you find more details on the tombs protruding out. However, underneath the tombs are hieroglyphics with such a lack of detail that you can barely make anything out. This holds true on both the DVD and Blu-ray.

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In my opinion the interior of the pyramid would be good for a college project or still frame, something for a website portfolio, not a theatrical film as it lacks the depth of color and texture needed to look like it belongs in a highly stylized film. Don’t get me wrong, I love the film, they just missed the mark on a few things.

Outside of a doctor’s office there are two large, metal, statues accompanied by metalwork reminding me of something out of Gotham City or the game BioShock. However, the lack of any real depth made it look more like a map painting, a shot that would look better from a distance.

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CGI Characters

During the opening screen of this film you see a few humanoid figures with alien like attributes that give you an immediate idea of how the remaining characters should look throughout the rest of the film. These humanoids integrate well with the actors who are also lined up in the shot.

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Next you meet the gods Anubis, Bastet, and Horus. All three are beautiful sand stone statues with bodies resembling humans and the heads of animals. As they resemble statues they have clearly defined lines making up the chest, abs, arms, and legs.

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 There are only three main actors in this film, with a few extras to fill in the gaps. The remaining characters are computer-generated humans and aliens, of which the animation department did a superb job in both look and movability on some of the CG characters while others are lack luster, looking like they came from a PC or console game. I think the major issue was the animators having a difficult time with human skin tone and believable attributes. Here are a few examples of the characters created for the film, both good and bad.

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Vehicles

The vehicles in this film are mix of old-school concept cars and futuristic designs making for an amazing combination, think 1920/30s concepts with air jet propulsion while the helicrafts resemble that of vehicles from Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell.

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Special Effects

In a scene from the beginning of the film Horus is met by two helicraft. They are soon destroyed in a low budget, poorly animated fireball.

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While the fireball left more to be desired, we also find little gems like Horus taking over the body of a human male played by Thomas Kretschmann.

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Miscellaneous Images

Here are a few more shots of the city and a cute little blob creature that I thought were really cool.

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All-in-all this was a very cinematic film with beautiful architecture, awesome special effects, and unique aliens.  The downside was cheap explosions and less than realistic computer-generated humans.  When you watch the film you can tell most of the $22.1 million budget went toward the development of the buildings.