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Lucas and Spielberg Still Have an Influence on 21st Century Interpretations of Monsters and Aliens

"Jabba the Hutt" (CC BY 2.0) by dirkvorderstrasse
Between the legendary filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, some incredible ideas have formed. The two are hailed for their contributions to sci-fi, and have been highly influential on all aspects of the genre since the 1970s. When looking at the monsters in any modern sci-fi flick, you’d be hard pushed to ignore the relevance to the films that started it all. The same can be said for gaming, with the ideas that sprouted in films like E.T evolving into characters like Abe in the Oddworld series. Between the two directors, there isn’t much they haven’t thought of.

It could be argued that every sci-fi film since the 70s has taken some inspiration from Lucas and Spielberg’s first flourishes in the genre. Star Wars: A New Hope and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, virtually kickstarted the genre, bringing the idea of aliens and space travel to mainstream Hollywood audiences. Star Wars was the more commercially successful of the two films with over $785 million taken in total worldwide revenue, but the well-respected Close Encounters continues to have a prominent influence on pop culture.

Only last year, Netflix’s Stranger Things (see trailer below) was released to critical acclaim, and the spooky series had strong references to Spielberg’s 1977 film. The eerie music, flashing lights, and the search for answers are all similarities between the two productions.

With reference to the actual visual representations of monsters and aliens though, what comparisons can be drawn with today’s visions and those of the two powerhouse directors?

Looking at games like the Monster Munchies slot from Booming games, resemblances can be drawn between the goofy aliens on the reels to the kind of monsters that were prevalent in the Star Wars series. Lucas was a genius when it came to thinking up highly original and downright hilarious ideas for his monsters, with alien races like Rodians, Hutts, and Yuzzums. To see monsters clearly instigated by Lucas and also enjoy a fun slot game, you will find Monster Munchies explained here.

For a modern take on an Alien invasion, Arrival directed by Denis Villeneuve, did a pretty good job recently and was a slightly different take on a genre which normally pits humans against extra-terrestrials. The 2016 film harks back to early Spielberg ideas and the contact with aliens, with comparisons to E.T where the aliens clearly meant no harm to Earth but people were sceptical nonetheless. The Quebec filmmaker said himself how he was heavily influenced by the sci-fi legend’s ability to create strong visual worlds, and aimed to deliver the same eerie uncertainty himself.

The fact that Spielberg and Lucas’s early ventures into the sci-fi genre are still having such a heavy impact on films and popular culture today is commendable. With the two directors having already teamed up on Indiana Jones in the past, wouldn’t it be fantastic to see the early sci-fi pioneers get together and create something to do with aliens? One would think that if it were to happen it would have done so by now, but with big studios like Disney remaking all their old cartoon classics, it seems that anything is possible in Hollywood these days.

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