18 January 2008

Cloverfield - The Spoiler-Free-ish Review

Okay. I witnessed the event of the year last night. (Hey! It's only January! Settle down over there!) How was it, you might be wondering.

Let me start by stating that I was early. Very early. Disturbing geeky fanboy early. First one in line early. I didn't plan or want to be; it just happened that events worked it that way for me. After waiting for *mumble* hours, I finally grabbed my seat.

I hate commercials at the theater. Can I just tell you that? I can understand sitting through them for free television. (You know, the kind you get with your rabbit ears? The kind that won't work after this goes into effect?) But I'm paying a pretty penny to sit and watch movies in a movie theater. Ixnay ethay ommercialscay. I figured we're close enough for me to share that. Thanks.

But to the movie.

Oh, another thing. I am seriously unnerved by people who actually try to be first in line at things like this. These are the same people who will spend hours debating the damage points of a Dark Mage who possesses the mystica ... whatever. It's just a movie and you will get a seat. Calm the fuck down, dork.

Huh? Oh. Right. The movie.

By the way. I may have been early enough to be first in line. But I wasn't first in line. Or second. Or third. I was seventh. So suck it.

Anyway. The damn commercials are over and the trailers begin. Generally, I enjoy trailers. Sure some ... okay, most ... of them are crap and some of them over-sell their movie. It's an art, making trailers. The prime example is the trailer for Cloverfield - the first one, shown before Transformers. It is the only trailer I've ever seen where my only reaction was "What the fuck was THAT?!" That's how all trailers should be. The trailers we saw tonight? If you watched I Am Legend in the theater, you've seen these trailers already.

What was I talking about? Movie. Right.

Ooo ... except for one trailer. A teaser for the new Star Trek movie was shown. Thirty seconds of the USS Enterprise under construction. Which is what the text on the screen said - "UNDER CONSTRUCTION". Like the movie still is. Witty, that J.J. Abrams.

I still haven't told you anything about the movie, have I? Hmm, let's see what I can say without really saying anything.

I didn't view it as "America's Godzilla", as Mr. Abrams had envisioned. This movie didn't have the underlying social commentary that Godzilla had. (And if it did, I completely missed it. I certainly didn't get the connection to 9/11 that some people had been suggesting.) The monster was also very cat-and-mouse, as the director said in interviews it would be. The big reveal didn't come until almost the end of the movie, and even that left viewers wanting more. (A cheap trick to ensure a sequel, perhaps?)

Also, if Blair Witch Project made you motion sick or gave you a headache, you should take something before seeing this movie. The camerawork didn't bother me too much.

Did I like it? Eh ... I wasn't blown away by the movie, but I'd see it again. There were some things in it that I really wish had been different. I believe that the film makers could have impressed the same sense of intimacy and confusion on the movie watchers without using the "handheld recorder" device. To me, it made the movie seem very amateur and a little hard to follow. Additionally, I was so annoyed by some characters that I wished they died much earlier and in extremely painful ways. But they didn't. (I suppose that's true in real life, too.)

I would also like to add that if you're billing this as a "giant monster beats down New York City like Ike Turner beat down Tina" movie, then I expect to see more destruction as it's happening, not the aftermath of the destruction. While character investment is a good thing in most movies, no one really gives a flip about the characters in a monster movie. Characters in movies like this are expendable, like EMI employees (ZING!); it's all about the monster and what destruction said monster inflicts on humanity.

There were a lot of very cool and extremely tense moments, enough to justify a second viewing by me. The monster (Mr. Grumpy Pants, or MGP, as some sites call it) is pretty wicked. Some of the scenes made me gasp. Out loud. And I was rather satisfied with the ending.

It isn't everything the hype has made it out to be, but I do recommend that you see it. (Preferrably on the Big Screen.) Then come back here and share your thoughts in the comments section.


Who Is Tuffie said...

kick ass review. not sure i want to see it now or just wait for the DVD, but we'll see.

ha, i love the lead ins, very nice!


Anonymous said...

I didn't get a chance to catch the 12am showing of "Cloverfield" last night, but am anticipating to see it tonight. I've been looking up perhaps anything and everything on the film since I've heard of it .. I definitely cannot wait.

Found an interesting article/clip montage on Maxim on "Cloverfield" and other movies that use the symbolic Statue of Liberty as a symbol of destruction of America.. and if you think about it, it really is pretty interesting.

TheSundriesShack said...

I don't think I liked it quite as much as you did. I posted my review here. I did like it, though.

But I had huge problems with the trailer.

Anonymous said...

I loved the movie.

JJ Abrams tried his best to make this somewhat believable and from the perspective of the observer of the carnage and I believe he succeeded in doing so.

When you're in love, you tend to do things that are stupid...and the lead character DID with going after his love interest that was trapped in her condo. People tend to think irrationally, and when his brother died, the initial shock was there, but it didn't sink in till later when he was talking to his mother. (I know how these go first hand).

As far as the focus on the monster and the mayhem and destruction it was causing, I think it was more believable than most of the monster flicks I've seen in the past. The monster behaved the way that it should, weaving and running through a maze of buildings rather than just trying to topple everything. The movie was about the people and how the monster affected their personal affairs. If people wanted to see a "monster" flick, then watch that horrible US made Godzilla movie.

Contrary to your opinion, I think the handheld camcorder WAS the key ingredient that made this different...if asked why...because it made it seem more "real"...like this IS how it would be if there was a monster runnin' around killing people. It looked real, it felt real. It wouldn't have the same effect had it been done in the old Hollywood way with multiple angles and what not. It WAS suppose to be amateur in feel, it's some awkward goofball behind a freakin' handheld camcorder, not Martin Scorsese and a crew of 10 camera men!

The movie was fantastic, I'd opt to take some Dramamine in the beginning however, but by the time the first 10 min. had been rolling, I was already fine. If you feel dizzy after the movie, do what I did, I had a nice cold beer!


Jennifer said...

One of my favorite memories of you is in connection with a movie preview. "Free that Willy!" I, for one, enjoy the movie previews...but then again I am seeing movies designed for the 13 and under set. So there you have it.