Top 20 Best CGI Movie Moments (15-11)

Matte shots

There are too many great FX from the final Star Wars prequel to choose from (including cinema's first coughing robot – General Grievous) but the one are in which it truly excels are its digital matte shots. The vistas of Coruscant are simply awesome and boats a level of photorealism, naturalistic (almost impressionistic) lighting and attention to detail the like of which had never been seen before.

14 SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)
Train fight with Doctor Octopus

“The worst shot in the new movie had to be as good as the best shot in the last movie,” reckoned Spidey 2 FX maestro John Dykstra. His team managed it. This sequence – with Spidey and Doc Ock slugging it out on top of a moving train – required over 100 special FX shots and, as Sam Raimi reveals, “The toughest part was that there wasn’t a script when we started shooting it. We had to storyboard this and shoot it because there were so many FX that, unless we started immediately, we would never have had time to finish it.” Consequently, the first live action footage to be shot for Spidey 2 was in Chicago because New York doesn’t actually have an elevated rail track like the one Raimi wanted in his idealised Big Apple. The FX team then had to combine Chicago footage, New York footage, CG, models and blue screen work into an extended action sequence that truly does look like a series of comic panels brought to life.

Monster caught on shakycam

Whatever you thought of the contentious design of Cloverfield's big bad, you can't deny that the way the tentacled beast was composited into the film's shakycam photography was huge success. You really could believe there was a monster on the loose in New York, being filmed on a cheap video camera. As great a Harryhausen was, you help thinking he'd never have attempted that with stop-motion.


All of the FX in Minority report are flawless, and indeed various shots of the Maglev hoverships taking off and landing are so realistic they almost feel like newsreel footage. But the film’s grandstanding moment featured the "spyders" scuttling through a tenement, scanning the inhabitants, looking for Tom Cruise's character. It may not have been groundbreaking, but it’s a superb example of directorial pizzazz, cool CG creatures, a great idea and excellent performances being orchestrated into a nail biting scene.


After a decade or so of dark, rainy, grimy SF movie cityscapes, The Fifth Element gave us a bright, garish metropolis, full of bustle and life and bright daylight. But it’s the attention to detail that really makes the shots of Bruce Willis driving his flying yellow taxi to work such a great scene: the way the vehicles seem to have and stopping distances; the characters in the other cars; the vertiginous inter-skyscraper traffic lanes. It's often been imitated (and probably improved upon in a technical sense) but it's still a standout scene for its sheer energy and ambition.

And next the Best CGI Movie Moments 10-6

SFX Magazine is the world's number one sci-fi, fantasy, and horror magazine published by Future PLC. Established in 1995, SFX Magazine prides itself on writing for its fans, welcoming geeks, collectors, and aficionados into its readership for over 25 years. Covering films, TV shows, books, comics, games, merch, and more, SFX Magazine is published every month. If you love it, chances are we do too and you'll find it in SFX.