This piece was written by Sir Simon Milligan
Special effects are a critical tool for injecting the fantastical into film. As advances in technology continue at an exponential pace, practical special effects have been supplemented or replaced with CGI. These effects help realize settings and characters from source material in books and comics that once seemed unfilmable. One of my favorite examples of this is the appearance of Nightcrawler in X2. Nightcrawler’s iconic transporting ability was illustrated in the X-Men comics since the character’s debut in 1975. Following the success of 2000’s X-Men film, a larger budget was awarded for X2. This facilitated the addition of Nightcrawler, who was included in an early script for X-Men but would require significant resources to really showcase his abilities on the big screen. The character required a lot of practical makeup effects to provide Alan Cumming with Nightcrawler’s blue appearance, but his debut in X2 really showed off the CGI aspects of the character, namely his teleporting (and his tail). The wisp of blue smoke accompanied by the “bamf” sound effects are used to great effect throughout the film, but the opening scene is one of my favorites in all of film.
Prompt: What’s your favorite use of practical special effects or CGI in film?