Take a look with us into what made the visual effects of these five recent monster movies something to behold.
Ever since Legendary Pictures launched their monsterverse with 2014's Godzilla, audiences have been eagerly awaiting an epic remake of Godzilla vs. Kong.
Since the dream is finally coming to life and Godzilla vs. Kong is hitting theaters and HBO Max this month, we're going to take a look at VFX breakdowns from some of the most recent (and notable) monster movies to help generate ideas for your next project!
1. Monsters (2010)
Before directing the major blockbusters Godzilla and Rogue One, director Gareth Edwards helmed Monsters, an ultra-low budget indie hit that proves a giant team isn't necessary to create a giant movie.
Not only did Edwards write, shoot, and direct, but he also single-handedly tackled 250 VFX shots. The innovation of his work in Monsters cannot be understated. In the video above, he talks about his vision for creating a docu-drama that's massively enhanced by VFX. By focusing on empty real-world environments throughout the film, he shot everything on-the-fly and filled in the space with world-building CG elements later.
Many of the VFX shots were actually not even the creatures themselves, but simple sign replacements that featured contextual information or warnings about the film's monsters. This allowed the movie to have a richly-detailed world that expands the narrative, feeling both immersive and incredibly grounded in reality, with only basic VFX work.
2. Cloverfield (2008)
Two classic strategies for creating large-scale monster movies are to either feature the monster prominently from the beginning, or to build up to a full reveal of the creature in the third act. Tons of highly complex CG sequences are required when taking the first approach, but you don't need a colossal budget to still create an effective monster movie if you take the second route.
Cloverfield took the second approach, and does a fantastic job of blending the real world with CG elements that continue to elevate the thrills throughout the movie, making the audience feel an increasing sense of fear and presence in the midst of a giant monster attack.
Like Monsters, this type of less-is-more approach works incredibly well in the found footage subgenre, and Cloverfield is a masterclass in camera direction and guiding the audience's attention with VFX, because almost every VFX shot is a big moment.
A large part of what makes Cloverfield unique is how close the monster gets to the camera, while the camera always remains on the ground. Perspective is used to great effect in this regard, making the monster feel as tall as a skyscraper.
For some added Cloverfield inspiration, check out this awesome VFX shot below from the YouTube channel, HollywoodScotty.
This channel composites silhouettes into mobile phone videos, and while the videos are simplistic, they do a tremendous job of conveying both realism and scale.
3. Kong: Skull Island (2017)
The most recent entry into the Kong franchise after Peter Jackson's incredible work in 2005's King Kong, Kong: Skull Island reintroduced audiences to a much larger version of the creature in the context of a Vietnam war movie.
Filled with plenty of explosive VFX moments, as well as several large-scale monster battles, Kong: Skull Island shines in the actors' interactions with the movie's creatures.
Not only are there impressive moments of physical interaction between the actors and monsters, but the level of detail that went into developing Kong's personality through VFX and motion capture make his emotions convey as clearly as a human, while maintaining the believability of his monstrous form.
Also, the complexity in hair detail is truly astonishing, and further lends to the realism of his character.
4. Godzilla (2014)
The VFX on 2014's Godzilla allowed Gareth Edwards' imagination to run wild, crafting a terrifying version of Godzilla audiences had never seen before. Almost veering into the world of cosmic horror, this mystical version of Godzilla feels completely believable, and a sense of his weight is felt with every step.
What lends to the mystery and terror of this iteration of Godzilla is the constant destruction he leaves in his wake wherever he goes. This movie feels more like a disaster movie at times, as every location with the monster is completely decimated. One of the most memorable scenes turns Godzilla's simple act of emerging from the ocean into a massive tidal wave that engulfs a city.
5. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
The monsters are on full display in this epic sequel. Taking the VFX even further than the previous film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters features several monsters equally as large and frightening as Godzilla, and so much chaos and destruction is unleashed that much of the film is shrouded in smoke and haze.
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