The movie moments of the 2010s that changed Hollywood VFX

The visual effects artists of 'Alita: Battle Angel,' 'Captain Marvel,' and more weigh in on the last decade.

Originally Published: 

The second decade of the 21st century saw Hollywood visual effects evolve at light speed. It was when CGI characters became as real as people; when silver screen vets could look twenty years young again; and when those who left us came back for impossible moments. Beginning with James Cameron's Avatar throwing down the gauntlet in 2009, the 2010s proved seeing really is believing.

But now that it's 2020, it begs the question: How did we get here?

In conversations with VFX artists whose credits include Captain Marvel, Alita: Battle Angel, The Hobbit, King Kong, Tron: Legacy, Power Rangers, The Avengers, Mary Poppins Returns, Edge of Tomorrow, and more, these are the defining VFX moments of the past ten years according to the industry’s leading professionals.

Mike Cozens, Weta Animator Supervisor

Credits: Alita: Battle Angel (2019), The Hobbit (2012-2014)

"Bad Ape from War for the Planet of the Apes. He's quite a complex bit of comedy relief and drama. And again, that performance really stuck out for me. It's quite a beautiful, complex little bit of performance on a secondary character."

20th Century Fox

Richard Hollander, Lightstorm Visual Effects Supervisor

Credits: Alita: Battle Angel (2019), Armageddon (1998)

"The scene with Bad Ape and the guy with the gun is such a beautiful scene. I wasn't looking at the technology of the apes. I was watching a well-directed, almost comedic and tragic scene. This wasn't about effects, this was about being perfectly integrated into a good idea. It was a wonderful experience."

20th Century Fox

Nick Crew, Scaline Visual Effects Supervisor

Credits: Captain Marvel (2019), Power Rangers (2017)

"Thanos in Avengers: Endgame is a really big deal. That's a really big leap forward having that level of believability in a character. I think almost every year that goes by, looking at the visual effects movies in the [Oscars], I feel it's getting better and better."

Marvel Entertainment

Shannon Justison, Third Floor Visualization Supervisor

Credits: Captain Marvel (2019), After Earth (2013)

"The few things people keep pointing to, like, 'We want that,' the whole movie Fury Road, because who doesn't? And Quicksilver from X-Men. Everyone was like, 'What? That's a movie we can make?' in terms of how technically proficient and how much fun it was. We [as an audience] want a scene like that once in a while."

20th Century Fox

Craig Hammack, ILM Visual Effects Supervisor

Credits: Captain Marvel (2019), Now You See Me (2013)

"I specifically remember watching Real Steal and seeing the integration of the robots. It just seemed seamless. I was shocked it didn't seem like they used visual tricks you had to use up until then. That that felt like something everyone would try to emulate."

DreamWorks Pictures

Richard Hollander (cont'd):

"To me, it's always more sequences, not films. Certain sequences really stand out to me. Like the bear in The Revenant. That's one that stood out to me in the last like five or six years."

20th Century Fox

Richie Baneham, Lightstorm Visual Effects Creative Supervisor

Credits: Alita: Battle Angel (2019), The Chronicles of Narnia (2005)

"Avatar is obviously a large, complex body of work. But where Neytiri realizes she's betrayed, that moment for me was, 'We can fucking do anything.'"

20th Century Fox

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