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Main Article: Clover
“I wanted a monster movie for so long,” said Cloverfield producer J.J. Abrams during a speech at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. “I was in Japan over a year ago with my son, who’s eight; and all he wanted to do was go to toy stores. We went to all these stores and there were still all these Godzillas everywhere. What’s better than Godzilla? And I thought, we need out own monster, like we need a monster movie — not like King Kong. I love King Kong. King Kong is adorable. And Godzilla is a charming monster. We love Godzilla; but I wanted something that was just insane, and intense.”
Preliminary drafts of Evolution by Don Jakoby elaborated the premise of the story with a much more serious tone compared to the final film. Upon being hired for the project, director Ivan Reitman requested screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman to shift the script into a comedic adventure sci-fi story, in the same vein as Reitman’s Ghostbusters films. With only a full year before the film’s intended release and a whole alien ecology to bring to life for it, Reitman immediately began seeking the right effects craftsmen for the project. “This wasn’t about one dinosaur,” Reitman said, “or even a bunch of dinosaurs. It was about creating a whole new world.”
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Main Article: Darwinian Nightmare
Director Jon Favreau wanted to maintain a generally physical vibe for Zathura‘s special effects — aesthetically, they would also have to homage pulp science fiction from the 1950s and 1960s. The Zorgons — the reptilian creatures that invade the children’s house — were no exception. As with other character effects for the film, they brought to the screen by Stan Winston Studio. Based on vague references in the script of “green scaly space pirates”, concept artists at Winston Studio — including lead artist Joey Orosco — extrapolated an organic creature design that combined humanoid characteristics with anatomical traits and textures from various species of reptiles.
“When we encounter Calvin in the beginning, he’s not maleficent,” said Daniel Espinosa, director of Life. “I think that in the other sci-fi movies, the unknown is always a threat. In my movie, the unknown is created somewhat by us. It’s not a question of what unknown does to us, but what do we do to the unknown.”
The central pitch for Calvin is, thus, that of an animal isolated from its original context. This creature finds itself in a new, alien environment where it simply tries to survive. “I loved that how we relate to it, is how it relates to us,” said Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays the main character in the film. “I mean, imagine what it would feel like to be taken from your home, put into a strange space station in a box, and then poked, prodded, and electrocuted, like how would you try to survive?”
He cried out, staggering back, one hand going to his head, and his first incoherent thought was No wonder Stan committed suicide! Oh God, I wish I had! He saw the same expressions of stunned horror and dawning realization on the faces of the others as the last key turned in the last lock.
Then Beverly was shrieking, clinging to Bill, as It raced down the gossamer curtain of Its webbing, a nightmare Spider from beyond time and space, a Spider from beyond the fevered imaginings of whatever inmates may live in the deepest depths of hell. […] It was perhaps fifteen feet high and as black as a moonless night. Each of Its legs was as thick as a musclebuilder’s thigh. Its eyes were bright malevolent rubies, bulging from sockets filled with some dripping chromium-colored fluid. Its jagged mandibles opened and closed, opened and closed, dripping ribbons of foam.
-Stephen King, It
Monster Legacy had the privilege and honour to interview Adam Johansen, head of Odd Studio, about their work on Alien: Covenant. For the film, Odd Studio merged with Conor O’Sullivan’s Creatures Inc. to create a series of practical creatures that would serve both as onscreen effects and as reference for the digital effects.