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Revolutionizing Cinema: 15 Historic and Outstanding Movies Made With CGI

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read
An actor in a suit in green screen background
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The world of cinema has witnessed numerous technological advancements that have reshaped the way stories are told on the big screen. One such groundbreaking innovation is computer-generated imagery (CGI)


Over the years, CGI technology has played a pivotal role in transforming movies, bringing to life breathtaking visuals, fantastical creatures, and awe-inspiring worlds. These are 15 historic and outstanding movies that have utilized CGI to captivate audiences worldwide.

1. Tron (1982) 

In 1982, the film Tron revolutionized the world of CGI movies by introducing extensive use of 3D CGI and computer-generated facial animation. It seamlessly combined CGI and live-action, setting a precedent for future films.


Tron (1982) 
Credit: Disney Plus/YT


Tron's groundbreaking achievements in CGI technology pushed the boundaries of what was possible at the time. However, the film's exclusion from the visual effects category at the Oscars highlighted the early challenges faced by CGI, as it was considered "too easy" compared to traditional animation. Despite this, Tron remains a timeless classic in the evolution of CGI in movies.

2. Jurassic Park (1993)

The movie "Jurassic Park" by Steven Spielberg was a game-changer in the world of CGI in films. It combined computer-generated imagery with animatronics in a way that set new standards for visual effects. The film, which was released in 1993, featured CGI renderings of dinosaurs and marked a turning point in the industry.


Jurassic Park (1993)
Source: Movieclips/YT


Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) played a crucial role, meticulously replicating physical animatronics to create the first realistic CGI animals on screen. Their groundbreaking work showcased the potential of CGI technology in movies and paved the way for its widespread utilization in Hollywood. Jurassic Park remains a game-changer in the realm of CGI movies.

3. The Matrix (1999)

"The Matrix" was the pioneering film that introduced the revolutionary "bullet time" effect. In this iconic scene, Keanu Reeves evades a barrage of bullets in slow motion while the camera maintains a normal speed.  To achieve this mind-bending effect, the filmmakers utilized an array of 120 still cameras, synchronized to capture sequential shots within microseconds of each other.


The Matrix (1999)
Source: Faceoff


This groundbreaking technique allowed for the manipulation of space and time, leaving audiences in awe and perfectly complementing the film's complex narrative. "The Matrix," directed by the Wachowskis, revolutionized action filmmaking with its innovative use of CGI. Additionally, the digital environments created a dystopian world unlike anything seen before. 

4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

Peter Jackson's epic fantasy saga, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's novels, employed extensive CGI technology to bring Middle-earth to life.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)
Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers


From the massive battles to the intricately designed creatures like Gollum, CGI played a vital role in realizing the rich and expansive world of Tolkien's imagination. Among the remarkable CGI in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the standout was Gollum. 

Created using 3D motion capture, Gollum showcased the potential of this technique by preserving the actor's nuanced facial expressions and movements. This breakthrough demonstrated that CGI could enhance a character while maintaining the authenticity of the actor's performance.

5. Avatar (2009)

The movie "Avatar" directed by James Cameron made significant strides in CGI technology. Its advanced use of motion capture and CGI brought to life the stunning world of Pandora, featuring breathtaking scenery, mythical creatures, and captivating 3D visuals. The film became a worldwide sensation, highlighting how CGI can transform the movie-watching experience into an immersive adventure.


Avatar (2009)
20th Century Studios


This camera system captures both digital scenery and live-action performances simultaneously from two angles. It combines these elements to create a 3D perspective. What sets this system apart is its ability to blend real-life and digital elements seamlessly, enabling Weta Visual FX to create incredibly realistic CGI characters. The fusion of real and digital elements from the ground up contributed to the groundbreaking visual effects in the film, making the CGI characters some of the most lifelike ever seen on screen.

6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

David Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" utilized groundbreaking CGI technology to create remarkable aging effects throughout the film. The CGI played a pivotal role in seamlessly de-aging and aging Brad Pitt's character, resulting in visually striking and emotionally resonant storytelling.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers


The intricate manipulation of Pitt's features and body proportions showcased the power of CGI in enhancing cinematic experiences. By blending practical effects with CGI, the film achieved a memorable and technically impressive portrayal of reverse aging, exemplifying the transformative potential of CGI technology in movies.

7. Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan's mind-bending thriller "Inception" utilized CGI to create mesmerizing and surreal visual sequences. The movie "Inception" mesmerized audiences with its mind-bending storyline and visually stunning effects, including the skillful use of CGI. CGI played a crucial role in creating the surreal and gravity-defying sequences that define the film. 


Inception movie (2010)
Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers


From the folding cityscape to the zero-gravity fight scenes, CGI seamlessly blended with practical effects to transport viewers into a world where dreams and reality intertwine. The intricate and immersive CGI work in "Inception" contributed to the film's visual grandeur and heightened the overall cinematic experience, leaving a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.

8. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" revolutionized the world of special effects, laying the foundation for the future of CGI in movies. Although predating the CGI era, the film introduced computer-generated models and backgrounds, showcasing the potential of this emerging technology.


A scene from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars


The iconic space battles and imaginative alien worlds became a defining aspect of the franchise. "A New Hope" catalyzed the integration of CGI in movies, setting the stage for its widespread utilization in subsequent Star Wars films and influencing the industry as a whole.

9. The Avengers (2012)

Marvel Studios' "The Avengers" showcased the transformative power of CGI in movies by seamlessly integrating the diverse range of superheroes and their extraordinary abilities. CGI technology played a crucial role in creating larger-than-life action sequences, allowing the characters' powers to come to life on the screen.


The Avengers (2012)
Marvel Entertainment


The film's remarkable visual effects, including breathtaking battles and stunning displays of superhuman abilities, captivated audiences worldwide. "The Avengers" exemplified the advancements in CGI technology and its ability to enhance storytelling, delivering an immersive and thrilling cinematic experience for fans of superhero movies.

10. Gravity (2013)

Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" showcased the transformative impact of CGI in movies by immersing viewers in the weightless environment of outer space. The film's stunning visuals of Earth and the vastness of space were made possible through the extensive use of CGI.


Gravity (2013)
Warner Bros. Pictures


The seamless integration of CGI and live-action created a visually breathtaking experience. "Gravity" received critical acclaim and multiple Academy Awards, highlighting the significant role of CGI technology in pushing the boundaries of cinematic storytelling and visual effects in movies.

11. Life of Pi (2012)

Ang Lee's adaptation of "Life of Pi" showcased the power of CGI in movies through the creation of a realistic and expressive digital tiger named Richard Parker. The stunning CGI work elevated the film's magical realism, immersing audiences in a visually captivating experience.


Life of Pi (2012)
Rotten Tomatoes Trailers


The film received critical acclaim and several Academy Awards, recognizing the remarkable advancements in CGI technology and its ability to bring fictional characters to life. "Life of Pi" stands as a testament to the transformative impact of CGI in storytelling and its contribution to the world of cinema.

12. The Jungle Book (2016)

Jon Favreau's live-action adaptation of "The Jungle Book" exemplified the transformative potential of CGI in movies by bringing realistic and expressive animal characters to life. Through seamless integration with the human actor, the CGI animals created an immersive and believable storytelling experience.


The Jungle Book (2016)
Walt Disney Studios


The film showcased the power of CGI technology in blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, capturing audiences' imaginations. "The Jungle Book" highlighted the advancements in CGI and its ability to enhance storytelling by creating lifelike and emotive digital characters within a live-action setting.

13. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road" demonstrated the effective utilization of CGI in movies by enhancing the film's dystopian landscapes and thrilling chase sequences. While renowned for its practical effects, the integration of CGI added an extra layer of visual immersion to the film.


Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Warner Bros. Pictures

The combination of CGI with practical effects and impressive cinematography resulted in an adrenaline-pumping and visually striking experience. "Mad Max: Fury Road" showcased the capability of CGI technology to augment practical effects, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in creating immersive and visually captivating cinematic worlds.

14. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Denis Villeneuve's sequel to "Blade Runner" demonstrated the effective use of CGI in movies by recreating a futuristic cityscape and enhancing visual effects.


Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Warner Bros. Pictures


The film seamlessly integrated CGI with practical sets and remarkable cinematography, resulting in a visually stunning neo-noir dystopian world. 

The CGI technology employed in the film enhanced the visual splendor and immersion of the storytelling, showcasing the potential of CGI in creating intricate and captivating cinematic universes. Villeneuve's "Blade Runner" sequel stands as a testament to the advancements in CGI technology and its contribution to the world of movies.

15. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

"Avengers: Endgame," the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, showcased the immense impact of CGI in movies through its epic battle scenes and grandiose spectacles.


Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Marvel Entertainment


The film pushed the boundaries of CGI technology, seamlessly integrating numerous characters, their powers, and fantastical settings.

The groundbreaking use of CGI allowed for a visually stunning and immersive experience, leaving audiences in awe. "Avengers: Endgame" exemplified the transformative capabilities of CGI in creating larger-than-life cinematic moments and solidified its place as a game-changer in the realm of CGI movies.

Summing Up

The use of CGI in movies has revolutionized the way stories are told, allowing filmmakers to create visually breathtaking worlds and bring fantastical creatures to life. From the groundbreaking "Jurassic Park" to the immersive "Avatar" and the mind-bending "Inception," these 15 historic and outstanding movies have utilized CGI technology to captivate audiences and push the boundaries of cinematic storytelling.

As technology continues to advance, the future holds even more exciting possibilities for the fusion of CGI and filmmaking, promising even more extraordinary visual experiences on the silver screen.