Directed by Peter Medak
Visual Effects Supervisor: Joseph Grossberg
Visual Effects Producer: Wendy Grossberg

Visual Effects Produced by:

VFX Supervisor: Ralph Maiers
VFX Producer: Philip O'Hanlon


Additional Effects by:

In probably their biggest film project to date, Digital Magic heads up the visual effects efforts of SPECIES II, the sequel to the 1995 hit film.

Following Boss Film Studios' work on the original was no small task. While the original's effects had moments of inadequacy, the majority of the work was solid. Like the original, the effects of SPECIES II are predominately good, with moments of fine compositing and CG animation, and other moments where elements did not match.

The film opens with some really nice space composites--the first manned mission to Mars is depicted via the Space Shuttle, connected to a space station, releasing a landing module that travels from the shuttle to the surface, and back. The miniatures, unfortunately, do not appear as massive as they should. The features of the shuttle and the station are far too large to be believed. The landing module shots are very neat, with the lander passing close to the camera, and CG dust and thrusters added to the miniature photography. Bluescreen composites of the astronaut on the Martian surface are extremely invisible, even during subtle camera movements.

A great deal of CG slime is featured in the film, oozing across floors, down corridors, and up walls--each slime shot was very convincing, with accurate highlights, shadows and reflections. Among Digital Magic's duties on the film was the extensive digital manipulation of prosthetic makeup effects. Adding various movements and undulations to numerous sequences, their work (along with Steve Johnson's makeup effects) culminates in a series of gruesome alien births--births that take place mere moments after conception.

Digital Magic's most ambitious shot in the film is a complicated, long shot that takes place as the astronaut infected with the alien DNA decides to blow his own head off with a shotgun. After the nasty deed is done, his head (blown clean off) begins its instant reconstruction. With the camera circling the character, his head begins to 'grow' back bone, muscle and skin until, eventually, his head is completely

"The cutting between CG creature and animatronic creature shots is incredibly convincing."

reconstructed. The shot is simultaneously amazing and obvious. While the vast majority of the shot is animated well, the reconstruction animation is at times choppy and seems robotic. The biggest detrement to the shot is the rock solid position of the man's body. The background plate (a dolly shot that circles around a point) contains some vertical camera shake, and its motion isn't nearly as smooth as the motion on the CG elements. The contrast between the rock solid head and the imperfect motion of the background plate is an unfortunate distraction.

In a scene of rapid editing, the alien creature finally is revealed in its purest form, battling good guy Michael Madsen in the film's climax. Although the shots are so short that any examination of the creature is almost impossible, the cutting between CG creature and animatronic creature shots is incredibly convincing, without the very distracting 'difference' factor that usually occurs with CG/animatronic films. The 'difference' is the obvious contrast in appearance between CG animation and their animatronic counterparts. Not only do the CG and animatronic alien creature match in terms of texture, lighting and movement, but the camera movements are consistent between the two techniques, as well.

The fine visual effects aside, SPECIES II is one of the worst Hollywood films I've ever seen. There isn't a single moment of ingenuity or imagination in this film. The performances are a complete joke--Michael Madsen, usually a fine actor, appears distracted and half-asleep during his scenes. Put simply, SPECIES II sinks to a new low in American filmmaking.

Official Web Site: http://www.mgm.com

Back to the 1998 Menu

. . VFX HQ Produced by Todd Vaziri . . http://www.vfxhq.com . . e-mail: tvaziri@gmail.com . .
All text Copyright © 1998 Todd Vaziri, unless otherwise noted