The evolution of special effects
When I was a kid, I saw Star Wars episode 4 and was really impressed with the special effects. I wondered how they made those cool lightsabers and spaceships. Some years later in 1987 I saw the movie Aliens by Ridley Scott and the aliens seemed disturbingly real. That was probably the last time it happened, so I guess that movie set a standard within me.
Computer graphics were starting to be included during the eighties but often painfully obvious to the viewer. The movie Tron from 1982 was probably the first well-known example of CGI, but nobody could call it realistic. Not even me who saw it as a kid.
The Abyss and Terminator 2 were some of the first films which changed that and when Jurassic Park was released in 1993, computerized special effects really took off. George Lucas was so impressed after seeing Jurassic Park that he stated the time was finally right to fulfil his vision of the Star Wars prequels. Unfortunately he started off with ruining the old Star Wars movies by inserting random computer generated stuff, most of which was embarrassingly bad.
For a couple of years, there was a competition among the companies. Who would be the first to produce realistic water? High fidelity hair? Animated films and ordinary movies featured one breakthrough after another. Today, most effects are so advanced and realistic that we don’t care anymore.
Best of all, it never ends. I recently saw Avatar and it featured the some of the best visual effects ever created this far in movie history. “Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, because Deluxe Paint is going bye-bye.”