Here in 2019, the film industry is finally at a point where the technology and tools on offer are able to legitimately bring any possible visual to life. Going as far back as the 1970s, the use of computer-generated images and shots began to be integrated into movies more and more with each passing year and with each passing evolution of computer wizardry.
Despite filmmakers having all kinds of grand ideas with this new dimension added to movie-making, there have been times where CGI has been more of a hindrance to the overall end product of a film, in that characters or locations have looked outright awful. There are, however, those creations that never fail to wow audiences upon a first viewing and then in subsequent revisits. When done right, a CGI character can feel just as a natural as any real-life being, and some of the greatest characters in the history of cinema are based around the magic of CGI.
That’s what we’re going to look at here, then, as we look to showcase the greatest CGI characters that we’ve ever seen brought to life. Some of these are included here for their sheer visual value and level of technical achievement, while others are included for the phenomenal performances behind them. Either way, these are some of the best characters in film history, period.
10. Smaug – The Hobbit Trilogy
A Benedict Cumberbatch-voiced dragon, you say? As soon as the casting of the Sherlock star was made public, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy was already on to a winner. After all, who doesn’t like the dulcet tones of the MCU’s Stephen Strange?
From rearing his weary head at the conclusion of An Unexpected Journey, to sinisterly stalking Thorin and his dwarves in The Desolation of Smaug, to then being killed off in The Battle of the Five Armies, Smaug was a revelation. With Weta’s flawless design and execution combined with Cumberbatch’s marvellous delivery and mo-cap work, Smaug instantly became one of the very best parts of the entire Rings/Hobbit series of movies.
While Smaug conjured up a sense of utter dread every single time he was on screen, there was a unique charm to this fire-breathing fella. So impressive was this CGI beast, some fans were even clamouring to see Smaug take centre-stage in his own movie somewhere down the line. That's yet to happen, of course, but it could well prove to be another huge hit for Peter Jackson should such a film ever come to be.