The Top 10 CGI Characters From Live Action Movies

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As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the many visual effects we see in movies.  When I was growing up, many non-human or humanoid movie characters would have to be created with costumes, puppets, or stop motion photography.  Now, however, memorable characters can be created through the use of computer generated imagery (CGI), a term with which any fan of fantasy or science fiction movies is undoubtedly familiar.  And over the last decade or so (sometimes earlier), there have been quite a few of those characters.

For the purposes of this article, I considered only CGI characters from live action movies, so as awesome as Wall-E and Mr. Incredible are, they won’t be found here.  Keep reading to see the top 10 CGI characters from live action movies.

10. Draco – Dragonheart

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Draco was perhaps the coolest-looking dragon on film up to the time Dragonheart was released, and the fact that he was voiced by Sean Connery doesn’t hurt, either.  What earns Draco a spot on this list isn’t his being a dragon; it’s his intelligence and resourcefulness.  Draco strikes a deal with Bowen, orchestrating a partnership from which both the human and dragon can prosper.

9. The Cloverfield Monster – Cloverfield

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Love it or hate it, the oft-described “Blair Witch meets Godzilla” Cloverfield featured one of the more memorable movie monsters in recent history.  As enormous as buildings and able to withstand a barrage of bullets and missles, the Cloverfield monster was able to destroy just about anything we mere humans could throw at it.   In fact, humans were hardly any match for the huge louse-like creatures that lived on its skin.  During the ending credits, if you listen to a sound clip played, you’ll learn that after the Hammerdown protocol, “it’s still alive.”  I was not very familiar with the viral marketing and mythology that surrounded this movie (Slusho?), but does anyone know just where the monster came from?

8. Davy Jones – Pirates of the Carribbean 2 & 3

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Personally, I thought that Pirates 2 was abysmal and that Pirates 3 was even worse, but one character I enjoyed throughout was the tentacle-faced Davy Jones.  If only for the visual effect of his dynamic face constantly slithering and contorting itself, Davy Jones breaks into the top 10.  His sword skills and ability to summon the Kraken, though, bump him up to the eight spot.

7. Master Control Program – Tron

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Before Skynet and War Games, the scary, self-aware artificial intelligence to fear was the main villain of Tron, the Master Control Program (MCP).  With a penchant for enslaving other programs and stealing data, the MCP could learn, makign it all the more dangerous.  As is the case with most evil intelligences, the MCP sought world domination but was ultimately defeated by Flynn and Tron.  MCP also makes an appearance in Kingdom Hearts II.

6. Starscream – Transformers

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Alright, I know you’re probably thinking, “Madison, you moron.  If you’re going to choose a CGI character from Transformers, why not pick Optimus Prime?  Or Bumblebee?  Or even Megatron?”  The reason, dear readers, is because those characters are lame compared to Starscream.  Optimus Prime has no sense of fun.  Lighten up, old man.  Bumblebee is OK, I guess, but he’s not as lethal as some of the other Autobots (and most of the Decepticons).  As for Megatron?  He’s alright, I guess, but it was Starscream that took out the human jetfighters and managed to survive throughout the movie, and it’s Starscream that would stab Megatron in the back without hesitation in exchange for power.  That’s the type of ambition I like to see in a villain, and Starscream’s got loads of it.  Also: his voice.  Pretty good in the movie; orgasmic in the cartoon.  If only Chris Latta could have been available for the movie.


  • inda

    Not even a mention of the Bugs from the Starship Troopers Movies?

  • You gotta give som credit to Go-Motion for the Raptors, too. Also, Revenge of the Sith is utter shit. 😛

  • Madison

    @inda

    I actually considered the Starship bugs but they didn’t make the cut. They were pretty cool-looking, though.

    Maybe I should have included Sonny from I-Robot, too…

  • Dutch

    Actually Davy Jones was mostly puppet work and prosthetics if I recall.

  • Will

    I heard something about Cloverfield having a sequel..but this sequel is about someone else’s camera…like a diff angle of the whole situation lol?

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  • Alex

    Madison:
    Thanks for another fun list.
    For the record, the velociraptors were definitely the stars of Jurasic Park in my book!
    When I ready your introduction, I immediately thought of Gollum and Yoda from Stars Wars I, II, III … but then that Yoda faded from my mind and Yoda-the-puppet from Empire Strikes back swam into view. The puppet was more memorable, hands down. Is that why you omited CGI Yoda or did you have another reason?

  • Madison

    @ Alex

    Yes, CGI Yoda was omitted because that’s not Yoda. The puppet Yoda is the one that everyone remembers. Glad we’re on the same page.

    Thanks for reading.

  • borrowedcrime

    “but how many people even knew what a velociraptor was before the movie was released?”

    Well. Technically, those aren’t velociraptors at all, they’re more like deinonychus. Velociraptors were only a couple feet long, “turkey-sized” according to wikipedia, compared to a 10 foot long deinonychus. I think I read that it was Crichton who made the mistake on purpose, because “velociraptor” sounds cooler, basically. But they’re actually nowhere near the same animal.

  • Madison

    @ borrowedcrime

    That’s true, but either way, Jurassic Park introduced a type of dinosaur to everyone – whether it was accurately portrayed or not. Everyone knows T Rex, Triceratops, etc…but before JP, no one had heard of a velociraptor (or deinonychus for that matter).

  • anand

    actually best cgi goes like this way avatar > benjamin button > king kong > gollum > transformers > jurrasic park > pirates of carribbean

  • Gollum, surely is the best CGI character till-date!! 🙂
    Maybe Ceaser-Rise fo The Planet of The Apes must be into the updated version of this list!! That makes Andy Serkis portraying 3 out of the top-10 CGI characters of all time!! 😀
    Love you Andy!! 🙂

  • mud

    Too bad they weren’t velociraptors, but Deinonychus’…but I totally agree with this list.

  • MegaSolipsist

    I thought Phantom Menace was a lot better than Attack of the Clones. And where is Caesar?