The film industry is constantly looking for innovative ways to make movies more interesting and appealing to audiences. Visual effects and CGI can either make a movie truly breathtaking or the butt of endless jokes. It was first primitively employed at about the same time as the movies themselves. Producers wanted to enhance the action and to bring elements into the scene that were impossible to make otherwise. The Visual effects industry has evolved to such an extent that there are entire film-making universities that teach students how to correctly render CGI in order to find a job. There is a long list of arguments for and against CGI and other forms of VE, especially with regards to the action itself, but one thing is sure, we definitely fell in love with them.
What does it mean?
Basically, any scene can be enhanced to make the decor different, sometimes there are entire scenes that are made only on the computer (CGI). The earliest special effects consisted in paper animals and motions being added on the initial film in order to add allure to the action. Some of the earliest Hercules movies were full of stop-motion puppets and forced perspective, that we would now consider childish, but that was cutting edge technology back then. Now entire scenes and even movies are made using CGI.
VE and CGI allowed producers to let their creative juices run rampant and to have no restrictions when it came to what they wanted. This is one of their major advantages, giving the viewer an adrenaline rush and crisper images overall. Before, action scenes were, at times, too risky for the stunt people and many creative ideas were left aside for security and financial reasons. They are definitely not cheap, but most companies prefer to invest in these types of effects in order to make their movies more interesting.
The other side of the story is that they can be over used. There are many critics and old-school producers that believe that the movie industry is no longer about the talent of the actors or the scenes themselves. Before the more liberal use of CGI and VE, producers had to think harder about how to make the movies appealing and this usually meant that the story had to be extraordinary. Many older producers have mentioned that they have no problem avoiding Visual Effects whereas younger producers are addicted to them. This can be observed in the latest action movies in which the story is very simplistic, and the box office earnings are thanks to impressive CGI.
One thing is for sure, their use has improved many scenes and have given the producers the possibility to create something unique and rather remarkable. They have allowed movies to tell any story, no matter how crazy it may seem, and attract us to the cinemas like never before.