As much as I complain about CGI in movies, I do recognize and respect the few films that have used computer effects well. The truth is, some bad movies have great digital effects that go under-appreciated, which is far more tragic than the so-so movies that are ruined by weak CGI. Sure, Tron is a guilty pleasure for me and many others, but its only real worth is in its place in film history. Other movies that are important for their advancement of digital effects include Forrest Gump, Cliffhanger and The Perfect Storm -- none of which needs to be thought of for any other reason.

Popular Mechanics has listed these four films with six other (better) milestones. Many of them are not surprises; everybody thinks of Terminator 2: Judgment Day when thinking of significant digital effects, even though it wasn't even the first movie to feature morphing (Willow is not included in the ten, but it is referenced). Jurassic Park is also obvious, but then, this isn't really an opinion-based list. It is a chronological top ten based on real, monumental breakthroughs. There are a few on the list, such as Cliffhanger, that I didn't even know were of importance. Did you know it was the first film to use digital effects as an eraser?

So, I may have to take a look at this list whenever I'm about to curse the existence of computer effects. A lot of the worst effects are appropriately featured in movies that are already terrible, anyway (personally, I think The Lord of the Rings and its CGI fall into this worst/terrible category, but I probably shouldn't be admitting this, especially since it is on the list).

What do you think was the most important advancement in special effects history (pre-digital era included)?

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