Animatronic Movie Monsters Remain Superior to CGI

David Hettinger   Staff Writer

When a T-Rex stomped onto the big screen in 1993’s “Jurassic Park,” it was more massive, terrifying, and realistic than the CGI Indominus Rex from “Jurassic World” in 2015. Some of the most iconic movie monsters were created using practical effects. However. nowadays, movies that are meant to be centered around supposedly incredible monsters have become oversaturated with computer graphics. The T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” is noteworthy because it was created using practical effects. The terrifying dinosaur (which was the center of the scariest sequences in the classic film as it attacked the main characters) was created using a full-sized animatronic. Therefore, when you are looking at the dinosaur on screen, you are looking at a full-sized dinosaur. Still, the fourth movie in the franchise, “Jurassic World,” resorted to CGI which made the dinosaurs look to cartoonish to be scary.

Another iconic movie monster that was nearly ruined with the use of CGI was the Xenomorph, from the Alien series. The Xenomorph was made of a highly elaborate costume worn by an actor in the first movie “Alien.” In the film’s sequel, titled “Aliens,” the alien queen was a multimillion dollar puppet that freighted all audience members. However, in “Alien 3,” the creature is highly drenched in CGI. One notable scene is when the xenomorph hangs from the ceiling, and the alien looked beyond cartoonish. The lighting was inconsistent with the rest of the set, and audiences could easily tell that there was no creature there. In the first two “Alien” movies, the animatronics and practical effects made it feel like you were staring at a real and terrifying creature.

One more example that compares the first two “Hellboy” movies directed by Guillermo del Toro and the Reboot from last April, which was directed by Neil Marshall. Guillermo del Toro is notorious from creating his monsters using practical effects. When it came to putting his monsters on the big screen, there was little to no use of CGI. One scene in Hellboy 2: The Golden Army takes place in a troll market. When you look around at all of the different creatures in this scene, it is so much more immersive because every creature is right there in front of you. Whereas the Hellboy reboot, which only came out six months ago, had CGI all over almost every monster in the movie except for Hellboy himself.

That’s the problem with monster movies nowadays. In the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, this advanced technology obviously did not exist, but that wasn’t a bad thing. With the use of practical effects, we as an audience felt like the monster was real, which made it all the more terrifying. But there is no heart or soul in just watering down your movie with computer graphics.

The use of practical effects has proven that it is far more capable of immersing the audience in a well done and imaginative flick, and it needs to make its comeback.

Campus Lantern
The Campus Lantern is the school newspaper at Eastern Connecticut State University. The Lantern is run by students, for students and reports on everything hppening around campus. We publish every other week. The Lantern has been in publication since 1945.

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