Snowpiercer’s Effective Use of CGI

We live in a time where movies are trading good story telling for mindless CGI spectacles. Movies such as Transformers and the new Ninja Turtles films feature unreal amounts of CGI, and it feels like Michael Bay wanted to trade a good plot and script for pure computer generated action. There is just something so much more special about real, tangible props and sets. That’s not to say that CGI doesn’t have its place in the industry. Films such as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are packed full of CGI characters running around. However, it is done so effectively, and with such a great emphasis on characters and story, that that film turned out to be amazing. Snowpiercer is another example of a movie making very effective use of CGI.

Snowpiercer never used CGI when it wasn’t necessary. The train itself is a real set, and it appeared that most of the objects in the train were also real props. So, where does the CGI come into place? CGI is used effectively to show us the post-apoctalyptic world that Snowpiercer takes place in. Crumbled structures and a frozen world are shown to us through shots of the trains windows, and many important plot pieces, such as the plane, are introduced through CGI this way as well. Some other uses of CGI that I remember off the top of my head were the roaches, the train breaking through the ice, and the polar bear. Every time CGI was used, there wasn’t much of an option. Were they supposed to get a real polar bear on set? Probably not.

Overall I thought Snowpiercer’s use of CGI was very effective and didn’t draw me away from the film. The best form of CGI is the kind that you don’t even notice. Such as in Mad Max Fury Road, where CGI is used to create more cliff faces, but the cliff faces are so well done and subtle that you don’t even think to question if they are real. With all of that being said, do you believe that CGI is being overused in the industry?


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