Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kai-ju-ju



I saw Cloverfield last weekend but I didn’t have time to do a review so here’s a quickie.

When I was a kid I remember watching quite a few Godzilla movies and wondering what it would be like for the folks at street level if a giant monster was really smashing through a city. Well, with Cloverfield that’s what you get along with the added bonus of home movie camera work, which means jump cuts and garden hosing. It was better than I thought it was going to be and the film is a nice parody of Echo Boomer values and current anxieties. It’s quite scary at times but also very energetic with direct visual references to 9-11, and the Iraq War. Cloverfield is the rebirth of the 1950’s giant monster movie reinterpreted for the modern age.

Here is what I liked in no particular order (spoilers):



The homage to the Escape From New York poster.

The timing was excellent. “Accidentally” stumbling upon moments that advanced the plot often felt very natural despite the absurdity of the subject matter.

The monster is not always shown on screen

When we do see the monster it looks like a cross between a kaiju and a Lovecraftian horror.

Generally being surprised several times during the film.

I’m glad they didn’t make it (or most of them didn’t make it) but that could change with a sequel I suppose.

Special effects were well done and deliberate rather than being used to fill up the screen with nonsense (i.e. Star War prequels)

The way the film went from night to day was subtle but effective.

The origin of the Monster is unknown unless your paying attention at the end.

The baby monsters are scary and fun especially in the subways.

The infected chick’s death was classic movie horror.

I liked the whole leaning tower section.

Nods to Aliens, and 28 Days later to name just a few horror films referenced.


Here is what I disliked in no particular order (spoilers):

 


Is everybody in New York a twenty something?

OK we could still use a few more moments of stillness to keep out eyes from popping out of our heads

The pretty people with their pretty problems section went on just a little too long.

A little too focused on one demographic? Maybe not but… there were other movies before 1990 out there.

New York again?

Most of the characters were not interesting people at all. (But that’s the point right)

I sure hope we don’t get a whole slew of movies shot with shaky camera movements now.


Missed Opportunities (spoilers): 



Umm None I can think of… ...maybe a joke at the expense of the American Godzilla?


Warnings:

My SO got sick during the movie and had to close her eyes halfway through. If its easy for you to get motion sickness or you’ve gotten ill in a movie before, skip Cloverfield on the big screen.

Veterans of Combat might have a problem with some of the actions scenes.


-Swinebread

11 comments:

ladybug said...

The Beaniac also got sick, and had to run to the bathroom (just in time). Another kid wasn't so lucky, didn't even make it to the garbage can in the theater.

I'm glad I'm not on the cleaning crew for this theater....

PS I didn't see it (just the kids did), but it sounds good.

Pandabonium said...

Sounds like a good concept. I'm not a fan of shaky cameras and choppy editing though. The action should be in view, not the view IMO.

Still would be interested to see it, though not in a theater full of people getting sick.

Arkonbey said...

I totally agree with the moment of stillness. (Panda's comment: "The action should be in view, not the view IMO" was spot on, too).

That's why I didn't like Blair Witch and why I'll avoid this. I think I may just watch a Kurasawa film in sympathy.

One reviewer said there was a bit where the fleeing camera-toting party was attacked, the camera was dropped and then retrieved. Now, I'll believe a giant monster rampaging around NYC, but unless the guy was a journalist (or at least a film student), I don't think he'd even remember he was ever carrying a camera after a few minutes of running.

Swinebread said...

LB - Oh sorry she got sick. You have to be careful with this one. If you have any thought that you might get ill you gotta skip it. As panda says it's a "good concept" also it can be a fun time, kinda' like going to an amusement park.

panda - it is a very good concept but the camera work is very youtube so I'm not sure you would like it. hmmmm maybe on the small screen. Plus the 20-something angst at the beginning could be a little too much to bear.

arkonbey - I would hate for this style of movie making to become the norm but once every few years would be OK. I'm sure I would not see most of them though. I never saw blair witch.

The camera thing crossed my mind but it's like exposition, not very realistic but necessary for the world of the film. So I didn't dwell on it.

Dean Wormer said...

On the sick thing I think it somewhat depended on where you sit in the theater. Too close to the screen an hurling will commence.

Nice review Swine. It was a pleasant surprise of a movie.

Arkonbey said...

This reminds me that I just saw the Star Trek trailer online and something bugged my inner geek.

The guy they show doing the cutting, aside from wearing 1950's era goggles, appears to be using an oxy/ace cutting torch. Why does that bug me? It's supposed to take place 200 years from now. Yet, in our 21st century, we are beginning to use lasers and 'water lasers' for precision cutting. Were they building this in the Federation's Monster Garage?

Ok. It bugged my outer geek, too, so I had to but somebody about it...

Swinebread said...

me too!

Doctor Smoke said...

*sits in a corner playing with godzilla doll all on his own waiting and waiting for his chance to see this film, mumbling under his breath*

damn you.... damn you all... to HECK...
damn you...

*bursts into tears*

Randal Graves said...

Everyone in all horror-ish movies these days is a pretty twentysomething. Nice review, and it seems that many are pleasantly surprised at the fact that it's not garbage. I should actually check the damn thing out!

Swinebread said...

dr. s - don't worry it's coming you way.

randal - If you do, sit far back in the theater just to be safe. I wouldn't want you to get sick!

Doctor Smoke said...

when? WHEN I ask you!!

please...
just visist my blog. any of you.
just look at it.
poor... abandoned.

Have i sunk so low?
Am I reduced to pleading for attention whilst posting mindless jabberings to other people's more interesting and popular blogs?

yes.
yes I am.