Note: This article is about pointless uses of computer-generated effects, not CGI that turned out fugly. So yes, that part in The Mummy Returns where The Rock turned into a scorpion monster was flat-out awful, but you can at least see why they'd want to use CGI for that scene. We're not talking not about the quality of the CGI, but the weird and useless ways Hollywood utilizes it these days.
For examples (some of them NSFW), read on below.
If you haven't seen the Keanu Reeves thriller John Wick, well, you have at least one thing to look forward to in your life. The action scenes feature fantastic choreography executed with serious style, and the special effects team didn't overdo it with CGI.
Which makes the only iffy technical part of the movie that much weirder. See, at the start of the movie, Keanu receives an adorable puppy, who proceeds to be lovable and perfect in every way. Being a wonderful miracle doggie, she even goes out and poops on the lawn instantly.
If that dog poop seems out of place, that's because it never existed. According to the movie's commentary track, that diminutive dollop of doo cost $5,000 to render. The directors jokingly complained that they weren't legally allowed to give a young dog laxatives, apparently unaware that puppies don't expel their bowels with anything less than explosive diahrrea.
It seems strange that they didn't think about this ahead of time. All you had to do is make a disgruntled intern question their existence by forcing them to go pick up some fake dogshit at Spencer's Gifts. Not only would this save the production about $4,996.25, but any plastic dog poop is probably going to look better than the Dairy Queen soft serve we ended up with in the final product.
But at least that was only on the screen for a second, unlike Nic Cage's jacked abs.
Nicolas Cage was 43 at the time of filming Ghost Rider, and minus the 90s alternative rocker they shaved for the wig, he looks just fine. But that wasn't enough; if you're gonna be in a Marvel movie about a guy with a flaming skull who rides a motorcycle, your abdomen better be shredded like coleslaw. Nic reportedly worked hard to get fit for the role, but execs thought his abs needed more of a "fleshy action figure" look.
On the left you can see a fine set photo of a manly Nic Cage. On the right is a post-CGI Nic, who looks like he's now sporting a series of flesh-toned gel packs across his stomach. It's even stranger in motion; they try their damndest to draw attention away with Nic's bizarre facial expressions, but it's hard to take your gaze off of that quivering mass of glistening fake skin.
Nobody's saying a Ghost Rider movie doesn't need CGI. Practically speaking, lighting real human stuntmen on fire and rolling them around on a bike wouldn't do a lot for crew morale. But there's a use for this kind of stuff, and it's not "needlessly sexualizing Nicolas Cage."
For a sex-focused movie like Fifty Shades of Grey, you need a lot of visual tricks to keep things interesting. A lot of it comes down to lighting, editing, atmosphere and two actors without functioning shame glands. But to prevent an NC-17 or X rating, the lucky couple had to wear discreet prosthetics to hide their lower bathing suit areas. When these apparatuses slip into frame, that's when the CGI gets applied. That vagina shield basically becomes a green screen.
In the case of Fifty Shades, the producers decided to draw in some hair down there. That means there was a meeting at some point to decide if and how much this fictional person grooms their undercarriage. That means it was someone's job to pick out the color, texture and thickness of this stranger's pubes. "Crafting computer-generated pubic hair" is an awkward sentence to read in this day and age -- and it's also a pretty killer bullet point on someone's resume.