There was a time when movies had an exhibition, characters were well developed with complex traits. They were dynamic and didn’t just fill some archetype even if they were the anti-hero or the Villain. Action was built up so that when a gun was drawn or the strike of steel clashed, audiences saw it drive the story and invested in what would happen. The movies of the 40’s or even the 90’s didn’t have CGI or special effects. It took ingenuity and cinematography to pull off a believable shot, and the humanity in the story was what counted.
I’m not badmouthing CGI I think that it can really make things happen that previously could have never been done. And older movies have their pinnacles, but not all of them were gems.
Never the less, CGI isn’t a get out of jail free card. The hobbit (1 and 2), Tin tin, and the Scroge movie with Jim carry among many other culprits have make the fatal flaw of sacrificing story for extended action scenes.
I just saw the Hobbit 2 so I’ll use it as an example. If you compiled all the scenes of elves jumping everywhere, Orcs and Wargs just being evil, Smauge getting trapped in wires and cables, and Barrel riding, you’d have a 3+ hour movie down to, maybe an hour. The scenes were predictable because there wasn’t the most brilliant writing or interesting character dynamics. It was “where can we get to the next plot point to incorporate a CGI battle/chase scene”. The parts that aren’t numbingly complex and fast action scenes are slow and predictable because the characters are transparent. I’m not even going to get into what plot points were changed because The first trilogy changed things from the books too.
And lets compare the two trilogies (as they are now). I know it’s not fair because the Lord of the Rings was groundbreaking, well written and they stood alone as great films. But I’m just going to stress the point that they did more with less aiding them. Lets not forget that there was plenty of CGI in the lord of the rings movies. Not the crazy stuff now, but 2001 CGI which was painfully less advanced. The difference is how they employed it.
If you look at the Balrog scene “You shall not pass”. The Balrog is CGI. But the color scheme covered up the fact. The Dark shadows and the Bright orange flame. Armies ready for battle from a distance. The story still had to drive those movies and the believability of it was helped when pointless action wasn’t the main focus.
I mean why would you care about a dramatic exchange of dialog between two main characters when you can see a dragon become encased in gold?
You cant blame a tool for mistakes and having action for the expense of story doesn’t help your movie become great.