That Cheetah CGI in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Was Pretty Awful
Superhero films really only need two things to successfully attract an audience: humanized, relatable characters, and the lifting of the disbelief necessary to accept that these characters are flying, wielding magical lassos, and using powers in "real life". Bad dealing and writing can derail the first, and bad special effects can take the second off.
"Wonder Woman 1984" definitely gets the first of these things right. In fact, the strongest parts of the film are rooted in its characters: Diana's struggle to choose right over simple; her relationship with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine); Barbara Minerva's (Kristen Wiig) loneliness, envy, and frustration at being constantly ignored; and Maxwell Lords (Pedro Pascal) desperation to be considered important and successful at all costs.
As for the other part? Well, "Wonder Woman 1984" contains about two hours of really spectacular spectacle. The opening sequence corresponds to some of the crazier heights of "Aquaman". The film as a whole is filled with bright, eye-catching images that look just as good in stills as they do in motion. And action choreography is ballerina-tight. And exactly when it matters most, it drops the GCI ball like a pixelated dead weight.
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Cheetah in particular, Barbara's alter ego and one of Wonder Woman's oldest comic book enemies, looks like hot trash.
Cheetah's appearance comes late in the movie - which is disappointing enough because. Yes, Barbara gets some cool action beats beforehand, like the Battle of the White House or when she really leaves the business to a drunken sexual harassment sneak. But she still looks human in these scenes and it is only during the final fight that she completely transforms into the cat-based super villain from the comics.
To be very clear, Wiig is doing some great work ahead of this point. She fills Barbara with subtlety and somehow with camp undertones that enable us to immediately put ourselves in her shoes and to sympathize with her.
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And that's more the pleasant surprise of feeling sorry for her than disgust when Barbara finally makes her villain twist in the second half of the film. It's a shame that much of the impact of this round is later undermined by how bad it looks when completely transformed.
And boy, uh, we mean bad. You can see for yourself in the photo above, but it really is something that is best experienced in context. The clue, of course, was that the battle takes place outside by moonlight at night - although the scenes take place immediately before and after the climax in broad daylight. Obscurity is, of course, a tried and true trick for masking less than amazing SFX.
The dimmer, however, can't hide the strange non-presence of Wiig in the scene, the semi-floating quality that is the hallmark of sub-par CGI. It can't hide the weird, muddy, painted quality of CGI hair that looks more like a glaucoma test than an effect to the viewer.
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And we were particularly impressed with how deeply Cheetah penetrates the eerie valley with close-ups. It's only marginally better than something from the 2019 "Cats". Fortunately, it's probably a short scene so we don't have to focus too much on it. Still, we hated that the moment we waited for the movie to throw us completely out of the movie.
We know this problem has of course plagued many of the recent DC Comics-based films. Who could forget Doomsday in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice? Or the painful, painful stuff with Enchantress in "Suicide Squad". Even the first Wonder Woman had some big problems when it came to special effects - especially the incredibly terrifying CGI fight against Ares at the end.
But Patty Jenkins had a lot more control over this movie than she did over Wonder Woman. She even had to do the softer end that she wasn't allowed to have last time. Unfortunately it seems that another special effect was required to achieve this.
We suspect the dream stone really gives us what we want ... for a price.
Read the original story that Cheetah CGI was pretty awful in "Wonder Woman 1984" at TheWrap
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