Crassness of this title aside, in many ways I think it sums up what’s wrong with modern computer generated non-human characters/entities. No matter how good they look or how far technology the tech has come, for me they still don’t seem to be able to circumnavigate that deep core that is our reptilian brainstem. Our deeply buried instincts that probably have something to do with knowing what’s dead and alive, what’s a threat and what’s not, and what we can fornicate with and not.
Something about the physicalness of puppets and animatronics, the fact that they’re real, flawed, and subject to all the same laws of existence in the universe that we are gives them one magical trait in my mind, they’re LOVEABLE.
Myself, and I’m guessing others, can literally fall in LOVE with a puppet or animatronic. When I think back to some of the creations of my youth, I still get filled with a giddy buzz of joy about their existence or a deep fear that if I walked into a dark warehouse and the Queen Alien was standing in the shadows part of my would be scared.
Puppets have the advantage that they actually exist in time and space…you can meet them, take photos with them, and yes, if so inclined do the dirtiest of deeds to them
CGI characters, on the other hand, are just bits and bites on a computer than we can only see through mediated screens. (I have no doubt this will change in the near future, but for now it’s true). Gollum is the closest I’ve seen in a film to this day, most likely because at least his actions, movement, and voice existed in time in space, just not his surface representation. But other than that, I have a hard time naming any other CGI creature of the last twenty years that I love or fear as much as Falcor, Ludo, ET, Gizmo, a Dalek, Kermit, Jack Skellington, Yoda, Ewoks, King Kong, the t-rex, bruce the shark, the queen alien, or even a Rodent of Unusual Size.
So until that days comes when I myself can interface with bits and bytes, and literally f*ck them, I think we’ll continue seeing endless strings of CGI creations that are instantly forgettable and inherently unloveable.