#FeatureFriday: Bridging the uncanny valley, one story at a time

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they stopped to think if they should.” – Dr. Ian Malcom in Jurassic Park.


While there have been some delightfully impressive VFX projects that have carved their way into our hearts over the past year, we do need to talk about the ones that just didn’t stand up to the test of live-action remaking. VFX scene has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of CGI and live-action remakes but its high time Hollywood understood that we don’t always need the characters to have humanoid features in order to relate to them. Relatability hinges more on emotion and expression rather than anthropomorphism.

 In the age of globalisation and social media, nothing escapes the microscopic scrutiny of netizens and filmmakers are under that much more pressure to live up to the current standards.


We all know how jarringly off was the CG replica of princess Leia in the movie Star Wars: The New Hope. That is testament to the fact despite the effort of hundreds of artists, the end-result still might not bear fruit. Indeed the human eye has a keen ability to know when something doesn’t look right. And granular errors in CG like a bad neck turn or the way eyes glissade across or the way shadows are cast can break the entire spell and prove to be counter-productive to the entire operation.


When Sonic the hedgehog, which has been a household name, was passed through the CG portal, the results weren’t very pleasant.


In the age of globalisation and social media, nothing escapes the microscopic scrutiny of netizens and filmmakers are under that much more pressure to live up to the current standards.  When Sonic the hedgehog, which has been a household name, was passed through the CG portal, the results weren’t very pleasant. Netizens expressed their dissatisfaction over the appearance which led the director to tender an apology and rework on the blue critter.


While Sonic has been reworked on and modelled perfectly around the original blue creature, Cats is being re-done by Universal even as the movie has already hit the theatres.


The fault didn’t lie in the CGI artistry as much as the design aspect. While the CGI game was on point, it was again the unsettling and un-gorgeous amalgam of human-like expressions and teeth reindexed onto a mutant.

Cats, a broadway rage, again attempted the same kind of anthropomorphic abomination, landing in the eye of the storm of invoking a nightmarial mix of eeriness and hysteria reminiscent of the flak Will Smith’s blue genie had drawn. Both instances beggared a serious question;

Do we need to give a realistic human face-lift to the predominantly cartoonish characters? Should photo-realism really have to take precedence over other nuances that come together to make for a gratifying experience? A long hard meditation on this question is overdue! While Sonic has been reworked on and modelled perfectly around the original blue creature, Cats is being re-done by Universal even as the movie has already hit the theatres.

Bottomline: Over-reliance on realistic anthropomorphisation of goofy animated characters is a slippery slope and its high time filmmakers rose out of their glaring preoccupation, if not obsession with forced hyper-realism being grafted on characters that are not meant for it.