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Author Topic: Geeking out with Nix  (Read 432 times)
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Nixorbo

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« on: 08-05-2003 20:27 »

The original Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon, enthralling millions and affecting an entire generation.  People still speak with a hushed reverence about the first time they saw that kilometer-long Star Destroyer slide into view in theaters.  They knew, then, that this was something special.

What was it about the original trilogy that made it have such an impact on the (western) world?  And why have Episodes 1 and 2 seem to have lost that?

Was it the story?  Seems pretty cut-and-dry, nothing really new or novel.  Was it the acting?  Doubtful - only Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones went on to any sort of major career (besides Sir Alec Guinness, of course).  Perhaps it was how the actors worked together?  More plausible.  Was it just the scope of what was being done, that nothing like it had been done before?

I have a thousand years of power.
"NOOOOO HE WAS MY BROTHER!" and then got tired and slept.


"He has the special talent, though, of being able to help people and make them feel utterly stupid all at the same time. ... In short, he's a great moderator, but a terrible human being."
-SlackJawedMoron
Speli

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« Reply #1 on: 08-05-2003 20:34 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 20:34 »

It took our breath away, because it was the first real dose of sci-fi the world has ever gotten on the big screen. Sure, there were novels, but it was never painted out for them; We had to use our imagination. The new episodes lost their appeal, because now it's basically milking the cash cow. They crammed it so much, and mostly for marketing purposes, making unnecessary character like Kit Fisto and Mace Windu, and I have never heard of their names before the movies...

The way I look at Star Wars is like the american revolution. The rebel alliance is baby america, with a limping military, but fights against the odds. The Imperials, of course, are the british, with all their firepower and "strategies". But since the rebels like hit-and-run missions, like the Swamp Fox and dirty fighting baby america did, they beat the imperials, who stay out in the open like the britsh, countless times. That's just one way of looking at it...

I love you Nix!
Melllvar

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« Reply #2 on: 08-05-2003 20:45 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 20:45 »

I kinda agree with what Kevin Smith said around the time of Phantom Menance, is that we were all kids when the first three came out (I stood in line in 1977, 1980 and 1983), back in the days when things like plot and script didn't matter, because we were children and all we wanted was shiny robots, laser battles and spaceships.

Now we're (relatively) grown up, our focus changes, and some of us found it hard to regress to how we were when we first saw A New Hope.

Secondly, back then no-one really cared that George Lucas was ripping off Kurasawa (or whoever) because we were busy basking in the (apparent) newness of his epic space opera.  Post Star Wars there was a glut of ridiculous cast-offs (Battle Beyond The Stars was a particular favourite - mainly for the appearance of the postively pneumatic, Cybil Danning).

Of course, there's nowhere near the amount of chemistry between the actors that there was on the original, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were strong characters off screen, and the stories of Alec Guiness's relationship with Star Wars are legendary.  Mark Hamill is as wooden as Hayden Christiansen (anyone who saw The Muppet Show episode with Hamill will testify to that), but he did have enthusiasm or the role, whereas Christiansen acted like what he is, a grumpy teen.

In the new ones, there's the element of "we've seen it all before, George", which is why there's the distain for the new movies.

We've been dulled by many many facsimilies over the years, and now they're making the new ones, it's just not the same - I'm not five anymore.

Shame, really.
Wonderbee31

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« Reply #3 on: 08-05-2003 20:54 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 20:54 »

When I saw Star Wars for the first time in'77, (and then over a dozen more times past that), for me, it was because it was something I'd never seen before, and yet it was familiar as well.  The effects were, for their time, some of the most fantastic ever seen on screen.  I mean, the ships looked like weird, funky ships, that still looked familiar, and the story, while simply good guys vs bad guys, was fast paced, and more importantly, fun. 

There never seemed like there was time to catch your breath, as things were happening almost all the time, with a pause for exposition, and then lots more stuff happening.  Did I mention that it was fun? 

That seems to be the problems with the prequels, imho.  It seems like all of the fun has been sucked out of them, and except for a few big fx moments, that's all there is now.  It seems now, that some of the really bad acting(Hayden anyone?) stands out a lot more, and the basic humanity has been swamped by the fx.  CGI Yoda seems cool and all, but so what, spend that money on a better script editor, and actors that seem to be having fun with what they're doing.  I don't think we'll see anybody ever do something like Han Solo's YEEHAW! in the third episode, and that's a shame, because the fun should'nt be overshadowed by that extraneous stuff. 

Sorry about that, but it seems like there's things that could have worked with the prequels, but they just didn't seem to flow like they should have.   frown
Chump

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« Reply #4 on: 08-05-2003 22:04 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 22:04 »

You might not agree with me here, but I say that the two best movies were Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Neither of these were directed by Lucas. In my opinion, this isn't a chance happening, Lucas just isn't that great of a director. He should have elected not to direct the new movies.

On the other hand, this probably doesn't mean as much to me, since I wasn't around when the movies were being made. I saw the first one when I was 8, in the basement in my old house. It was pretty cool, but I never saw it on the big screen.

Having just now read the above post, I agree. The new ones are no fun. Theres no light joking moments at all. And the "clone wars" really don't seem to be shaping up to be as terrible as suggested.

I've always wanted to see someone drop a lightsabre thats on. Would it burn right through the floor? I'd hope so.
LAN.gnome

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« Reply #5 on: 08-05-2003 22:43 »

The one thing that the new prequels lack that the original had in spades is the presence of the Everyman. Episode IV had two characters the audience could easily relate to; Luke, in that he had no idea what was going on in the universe (just like the audience); and Han, as the perpetual wisecracker who expressed his true feelings about hokey religions and luck (again, much like the audience).

The later installments lost an Everyman in Luke as he gained wisdom and Force abilities, but we still had Han to serve as the "us" in the series.

There simply is no Everyman in any of the prequels. The closest they have come to establishing one was Anakin in Episode 1, but by giving him such extraordinary powers and abilities to begin with, he moves from an Everyman role to a heroic role, one the audience can support but not necessarily relate to.

The same difference can be found between the first Matrix movie and the sequel, "Reloaded." The transformation of Neo into the One leaves the audience without anyone to really relate to -- the movie becomes populated only with invincible superheroes. Only when vulnerable characters such as the Keymaker are introduced do we begin to be involved personally in the film.

At least, that's my opinion on the subject.  smile
Melllvar

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« Reply #6 on: 08-05-2003 23:02 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by Chump:
You might not agree with me here, but I say that the two best movies were Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Neither of these were directed by Lucas. In my opinion, this isn't a chance happening, Lucas just isn't that great of a director. He should have elected not to direct the new movies.

Also, Lawrence Kasdan was brought in to spice up the script on Empire - still the best movie - (mainly touching up the dialog between Han and Leia), another reason perhaps.

You're like the fun vampire, but instead of sucking blood, you just suck...

STILL The Cuddly Face Of Heavy Metal
VelourFog

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« Reply #7 on: 08-05-2003 23:20 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 23:20 »

i vote because harrison ford is a sexxy bitch

if you like nerdy discussion of Star Wars you should check out the new(ish) feature at AICN

also I heart this thread and everything it stands for
Nixorbo

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« Reply #8 on: 08-05-2003 23:26 »

Ewan MacGregor is doing a fantastic job, given his support, Balsa Wood and the Whiny Angsty Kid, I'll give you that much.

Didn't Lucas direct the first one?  Why was that one, even with him directing, worlds away from the next two he directed?
VelourFog

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« Reply #9 on: 08-05-2003 23:32 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 23:32 »

Ewan is sexy, but he's no Harrison Ford.

I'm gonna also say the effects. and it's it sad that the effects they have now cost a trillion more dollars and are slicker and fancy but they don't inspire the same sort of reaction?

you ever notice how monster movies are more scary the less they show the monster? I think that related to star wars (iv) being better than the other ones. It wasn't shot on huge green screens like the recent ones, stuff was real. it didn't look as fancy and polished and you had to use your imagination to believe in it. you felt more of a connection to the story and characters as a result.
Melllvar

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« Reply #10 on: 08-05-2003 23:36 »

I agree, there's something about effects shot on a shoestring and being realised on the back of a truck, than the 3 jillion CGI effect shots in the current ones.  Too sanitised now, more honest then.

Ewan is doing a sterling job, but I can't get past the clear differences in his real beard for principal photography, and the awful fake one for the reshoots in AOTC.
LAN.gnome

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« Reply #11 on: 08-05-2003 23:39 »
« Last Edit on: 08-05-2003 23:39 »

It's a fact: for the most part, models (I'm talkin' ships here) look more real than computer generated effects. They simply have more substance, and they look more "real;" lots of computer stuff looks too perfect and smooth to be true. Lots of time is spent to me them look organic and irregular.

This is why i think the USS Enterprise D looks more real than the computer generated Enterprise used in the new series.

 
Quote
Originally posted by VelourFog:
 it didn't look as fancy and polished and you had to use your imagination to believe in it.
I figured the same thing.
Melllvar

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« Reply #12 on: 08-05-2003 23:49 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by VelourFog:
you ever notice how monster movies are more scary the less they show the monster? I think that related to star wars (iv) being better than the other ones. It wasn't shot on huge green screens like the recent ones, stuff was real. it didn't look as fancy and polished and you had to use your imagination to believe in it. you felt more of a connection to the story and characters as a result.

Reasons why books are always better than movies, as the minds-eye is much more powerful than any special effect.

It's never as good as you imagine it's going to be.
Just Chris

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« Reply #13 on: 08-06-2003 00:00 »

I would think that no matter what order the films came out, we would still have the same perspective on the Star Wars series. For instance, if Phantom Menace and Clone Wars were the ones that came out in the late 70's, we would treat those as the genuine classics today. And A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back would be considered mediocre, because it will still feel a bit detached from the original trilogy, even if it has many familiar characters and settings. It's mostly due to the 20-year wait between the trilogies.
VelourFog

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« Reply #14 on: 08-06-2003 00:03 »

just like how Indy 4 is going to make me want to kill myself, probably
TheMadCapper

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« Reply #15 on: 08-06-2003 00:32 »

Waiting so long before releasing more SW movies was a bad move.

And yeah.... We're watching a different type of story now than we saw in the original trilogy. And it doesn't help that we know Anakin will turn to the dark side, etc.

Basically, this prequel trilogy lacks a lot of unpredictability, because we know where the story's going to go. And because the characters do seem to spend very little time being characters.  They exist to tell the story and advance the plot, rather than being well-rounded personalities.
Melllvar

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« Reply #16 on: 08-06-2003 02:43 »
« Last Edit on: 08-06-2003 02:43 »

That's right, in the beginning George never intended for his "Back Story" to be the movie, but must've seen the potential fairly soon after Star Wars went double-massive.  There are only moments when the movie is tipping "knowing winks" to the audience (see, Death Star, look!), but that's all it's good for, just those moments.

I'd like to have seen how the episodes 7-9 would have turned out.
FishyJoe

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« Reply #17 on: 08-06-2003 03:22 »
« Last Edit on: 08-06-2003 03:22 »

Great thread.

I'm too tired to completely geek out, but I'll respond to a few things.

I think Star Wars made such an impact on the public consciousness because of the ideas and images it presented. Most mainstream movie-goers probably couldn't tell you the detailed plots of the Star Wars movies. They just care about the basics: lightsabers, death stars, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, R2-D2, "I am your father", etc.

If the release dates of the original trilogy and prequel trilogy were switched, I think the prequels would be considered classics. Nobody would sit there complaining about acting/dialogue, or that midichlorians raped their childhood or whatever.

That said, the original trilogy definitely has more of a human element that we can all relate to. And despite some claims that people badmouth the prequels "only because they aren't children anymore", I think it's clear that Lucas has lowered the priority of dialogue. He's focusing more on telling the story visually, which I'm fine with. But I hate reading fans defending the dialogue by saying "Empire Strikes Back's dialogue was just as bad! You're not a kid so you wouldn't understand!"(you see a lot of that on Star Wars message boards)

Empire Strikes Back was corny, but it was also snappy and fast-paced and had a certain witty charm to it.

And I agree with VF. Indy IV will probably make me want to kill myself. Lucas doesn't seem to be very heavily involved, and I don't trust Spielberg alone to not fuck up the movie. All I can hope for is for Frank Darabont to deliver a kickass script that will be great, no matter what happens on set.

Edited to make fun of myself. This was supposed to be me NOT "completely geeking out". I'd hate to see my posts tomorrow.
Arkard

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« Reply #18 on: 08-06-2003 10:16 »
« Last Edit on: 08-06-2003 10:16 »

I never have been impressed by Star Wars, although I have to admit, that I never watched it in a cinema, not even when the new 'computer enhanced' version came out some years ago. SW may have a certain charme, at least the first 3 episodes (chronological by production, i mean the old ones), and has made science fiction much more popular and helped to initiate the transfer of sci-fi from literature to the cinema, as '2001:A Space Odysse' surely also did. But I never thought of these films as 'serious' science fiction. For me the era of science fiction has begun in 1979 with 'Aliens'. This was the first film of that genre of that I believed that it really could happen somehow in the future. The Star Wars series or Space Odysse first made it possible to produce something like 'Aliens', and I like them for they're style (well, not 'A Space Odysse' That's one of the most boring films I ever watched.), but I can't take them serious, what is not necessarily a bad thing. It just takes away some of the futuristic experience that I want to have.
VelourFog

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« Reply #19 on: 08-06-2003 10:29 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by FishyJoe:
Edited to make fun of myself. This was supposed to be me NOT "completely geeking out". I'd hate to see my posts tomorrow.

it's like you read my mind
Lurrr

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« Reply #20 on: 08-06-2003 16:27 »
« Last Edit on: 08-06-2003 16:27 »

All this talk about how overuse of special effects ruined the prequels does annoy me. What made Star Wars successful when it first came out was the effects, without that it would probably have flopped. When argue with my Dad about which is the best Star Wars film (I say Empire) he still maintains that 'A New Hope' is the best. Why? Because back then, the shot of A Fucking Huge Spaceship Blasting the Shit Out of Another was groundbreaking. I mean, the story isn't anything special, the actors can't act (or just don't act) and the direction is just basic, and that goes for all of the films. What drew people to these films was the chance to see great space battles, weird aliens and laser-swordfighting for real, and it was the same for me. Special effects have always driven Star Wars on and now Lucas has jumped to CGI people are saying he's betrayed what Star Wars is about?

What gives the trilogy its charm is the sense of adventure in it. Like Indiana Jones, its not very realistic and very over-the-top but thats not the point. It's fun because of that. We want to see Space Wizards fighting with laser-swords because its cool. It's a guilty pleasure. Kids today will love the Yoda/Dooku fight just as much as we loved the seeing the Death Star blown to bits. Which is why 'The Phantom Menace' sucked, that was just boring.

The new trilogy definitely has some weaknesses though, particularly Lucas' hopeless attempts at romantic dialogue. God help us, Amidala and Anakin are actually married in Episode 3  eek

This is all IMO of course.
Gocad

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« Reply #21 on: 08-06-2003 18:55 »

I think that the first one, Episode IV - A new Hope, that is, had everything a good movie needed. A simple story, good guys you could identify with, bad guys which you could hate,  gorgeous effects and Alec Guinness.
But TESB and ROTJ were just a blown up version of "A new Hope".
And I won't start to rant about the "Phantom Menace" and the "Attack of the Clones". Sure they've got impressive effects, but aside from that? Nothing!  hmpf
DrThunder88

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« Reply #22 on: 08-06-2003 23:00 »

When I first saw Star Wars way back in 1997, I was instantly taken with it.  I had heard all of the jokes pertaining to Star Wars and had some idea of what the movie was about, but it was the first time I saw the thing fleshed out.  When Episode One was released, my director (who was also a big Star Wars fan) gave me an Episode One movie-book as a gift for all of my hard work making sure West Side Story didn't fall flat on its ass.  I read the book with a great deal of skepticism, as I had paged through movie books before and been disappointed.  Unfortunately, I was so disappointed with the book that I vowed never to watch the movie (even in my mind that stupid kid was a terrible actor).  At any rate, most of the surprise was gone, and it took the suspense with it.  Another biting point of the first movie is the quantification of the Force.  I had always assumed that the Force was some crazy magical thing that someone either was or wasn't with, not a symbyote like Venom.  The "immaculate conception" of Annikan was also a little weak.  It just seems like they didn't want to explain why Annikan was so Force-attuned, they just wanted him to be that way, so we were left to accept that the midichlorians (I couldn't get 'MIDI' out of my head, as my friends and I were trying to establish a MIDI band) just happened to have a convention in Annikan's mom's (Smi, was it?) uterus.

Oh well, allegedly the Emporer come back in a clone body sometime after RotJ, maybe Lucas will pull a sequel out of his ass so the original stars can make a triumphant return to the hearts and minds of nerds everywhere.
FishyJoe

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« Reply #23 on: 08-06-2003 23:22 »
« Last Edit on: 08-06-2003 23:22 »

If you think the prequels are ruining your beloved Star Wars, a sequel would be even worse. At least here, you can say "eh, different characters, different ships, different story...I'm not interested". I think too many easily-broken fans would kill themselves if there were a disappointing sequel, with really old actors and the CGI effects. You know...sort of like me, with Indiana Jones.

Intersting note: I've read the original idea for the sequel trilogy--a six episode outline that Lucas came up with around the time A New Hope was being produced.

In episode 6, Luke turns Vader back to the good side, and in episodes 7 and/or 8, other stuff happens, and Luke goes off in search of his sister(who wasn't planned to be Leia. Lucas didn't decide on that until the middle of Empire Strikes Back). Then in episode 9, Luke and his sister kill the Emperor.

I guess he got tired of it all, and condensed everything into Return of the Jedi.
DrThunder88

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« Reply #24 on: 08-07-2003 02:03 »

Don't Luke and Leia eventually kill the clone Emporer?

The sequel thing was sort of a joke.
Gocad

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« Reply #25 on: 08-07-2003 04:33 »

The only thing this sequel didn't have was an even bigger Death Star...  tongue
mikey

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« Reply #26 on: 08-07-2003 10:01 »

The one thing this trilogy dosent have that the other did is vader vs skywalker. Who really cares about princess armadilo and anikan. BORING!!
Gocad

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« Reply #27 on: 08-07-2003 10:17 »

are we talking about the same trilogy?
Zed 85

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« Reply #28 on: 08-07-2003 20:19 »

If I told you that I found the openning to the game Force Commander much more thrilling than the battle scenes of the new films...would you believe me?

One of the things I love about ESB is that it's dark. The new ones are too soft. I wait to see how EPIII turns out, because technically you should have some pretty nasty shit going on - Jedi are masacred, the Empire takes control of the galaxy, Amidala most likely dies if Leia is correct, Anakin finally becomes Vader. Really it should be cracking stuff with powerful and evocative storytelling that will grip every age, but...no I don't see that happening sadly.  hmpf

CGI - it seems to have blinded George's old philosophy of filming battle scenes like it was a documentory - now if it's possible to go for a really obscure shot - they'll go for a really obscure shot. Takes an edge of realism off it.
Besides, a monster is much more convincing when you know it's technically real - that's why AT-ATs would never be as good if they were CGI'ed from now on.
FishyJoe

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« Reply #29 on: 08-08-2003 00:07 »

I don't mind a lot of CGI...I just mind bad CGI. The Phantom Menace was beautiful, I thought. But a lot of the effects in Attack of the Clones were terrible. The CGI clone troopers stick out more and more, every time I watch it.

Maybe all the spoilers affected my interpretation of the movie. Back when I was nerding it up, and looking at pre-production paintings for Attack of the Clones, I saw the clone boarding scene at the end, and I was amazed. "This is gonna look awesome!" I thought. Then I saw it in the theaters, and I thought "...it looks exactly the same". It didn't look real at all...it just looked like a moving painting.

It would be impossible to get a shot of that size without CGI, so I'm not opposed to CGI entirely. But the animators could have done more to make that scene look as powerful as it should.

I thought special effects were supposed to get better with time, but I feel like CG effects have generally gone backwards since the first Jurrassic Park.
VelourFog

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« Reply #30 on: 08-08-2003 01:10 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by FishyJoe:
I thought special effects were supposed to get better with time, but I feel like CG effects have generally gone backwards since the first Jurrassic Park.

i agree 10000% I remember when JP came out and it looked so good. I haven't felt that way about CGI since. Now you sit there and notice all the bad CGI and the obvious effects and the actors not looking at the right spot. It's annoying and makes me sad
DrThunder88

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« Reply #31 on: 08-08-2003 01:42 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by FishyJoe:
I thought special effects were supposed to get better with time, but I feel like CG effects have generally gone backwards since the first Jurrassic Park.

Oddly enough, I was just pondering this while refusing to watch that idiotic gymnastics sequence in The Lost World.  Many of the CGI shots don't look as real as they used to.  Maybe it's just because memory doesn't serve me as well as it should, but in comparing the "Racing with Rex" sequence from the first film and when the Spinosaurus chases Grant and Eric in the third film the difference in realism is readily apparent.  I think a big part of this is number and magnitude of risks the directors are willing to take by investing a shot in CGI.  The main areas of risk in using CGI footage are: the size of the CG object in the shot, the amount of movement that the CG object must undertake, the environment within which the CG object is to be located.  First, the larger an object is in the frame, the harder it is to pull off succesfully.  A CG creature on the horizon is roughly the equivalent to a small CG creature in a wide shot.  Second, a static or largely static object is easier to believe and make believeable than a very dynamic object, and a dynamic object with organic movements and/or secondary movements (skin jiggle, gait, etc).  In essence, a statue is easier to make believable than a truck, and a truck is easier to make believeable than a walking animal.  Finally, environment comes into play when the CG elements are combined with the live-action elements.  It is much easier for a CG element to be added to a low-light situation (e.g. nighttime, during a monsoon).  In fact, Spielberg's criteria for ILM's first fleshed-out test reel included that the shot be in direct sunlight.  This early test is actually really good looking for a ten-second shot.  Also, anyone who has fiddled around with Chroma-keys will tell you that blue-screen (or green-screen) matting leaves a telltale black outline around the overlayed image.  This can be defeated with proper rotoscoping, and my guess is, most of the crappy-looking CG animation can be blamed on this step.  I remember a line in one of the sequels' "making-of" featurettes that indicated the production team was trying to 'streamline' and 'automate' some parts of the animation process.  Chances are, they've left the artistry of rotoscoping to machines, and the viewers are suffering the consequences.

I don't know...I just came up with this in the minute or two I was plugging my ears and burying my face in a pillow.
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