Cloverfield

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

So Smitty and I, along with a few others, took in Cloverfield last night. GOOD TIMES. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If you haven't heard, this... is a monster movie. Pretty much Godzilla... but not... see, Godzilla (Roland Emmerich's version) sucked and this movie is the exact opposite of that. IT ROCKED. If you're a Godzilla fan, as I am, and you were as horribly disappointed with that movie when it came out as I was, Cloverfield will make you disappointed in Godzilla even more. Don't get me wrong, Godzilla could never be Cloverfield; Godzilla requires back story and explanation, something Cloverfield specifically avoids, but when it comes to smashing and killing, the Cloverfield monster shows Emmerich how it should have been done.

Cloverfield is shot, Blair Witch style, with a Handycam basically attached to a dude's head while he chronicles the attack of a giant creature on Manhattan. The opening premise is that this guy is leaving his posh New York digs and upscale "all too-good-looking-to-be-true" friends for a VP job in Japan. The friends are sending him off in style with a bash, and are recording "tributes" to him when, basically, mayhem in the form of a 35 story monstrosity appears and begins tearin' shit up. Our Abercrombie model Japanese VP has a love affair with this chic (who, of course, is uber hot as well), which serves as the impetus for him and a group of his friends to venture through the city to find her despite the beast that is destroying everything in its path. His buddy keeps filming because, well, he's gotta do something... and besides, if they all die, he figures someone should tell their story. As a person sitting in the theater, you're watching the footage basically raw, with the opening scene explaining that you're witnessing footage recovered from the scene that is now classified Defense Department Property.

If you're a person who needs explanations, you'll leave Cloverfield very unsatisfied, at least from that perspective. Where the monster comes from, whether or not the characters live, did they kill the thing in the end... that isn't what this movie is about. There is no music, no sound track, just a group of 20-somethings trying to make their way through the carnage. Quite honestly, for movie buffs this is a refreshing piece of work. No spoon fed explanations from some scientist who happens to have an on-the-mark theory of the beast's origins based upon his status as the world's foremost authority on North African crotch crickets, no "oh look what I found" contrived diary from a long dead explorer who explains the monster just before the hero figures out how to defeat it... just 4 scared people trying to find a friend while filming a letter form home with a digital 8; and some great CGI. Plus, the Military takes action in this movie, and we're not talking pot shots. They BRING IT; Full out, no prisoners, military strike stuff. The kind of thing the director's in other films don't do, precisely because they always want the downfall of the creature to be more meaningful, or because the hero always needs to have some simple, but initially overlooked, insight that does the trick. Here, they bomb the fucker, just like you know we'd do in real life. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

9 comments:

Smitty 10:33 AM  

Right on the mark, Joel.

I loved this movie because it left you with all of the appropriate emotions in an otherwise emotionless void of Hollywood drivel. The CONSTANTLY shaky camera started to make me queasy. But you would be queasy too if you were running through Manhattan with a 35 story monster on your ass. You'd want to cry, barf, bleed, hide and scream out loud...and this movie delivers all of those emotions. Wow.

I love the unanswered questions...it's supposed to be that way. It's an unintentional documentary.

I love that the main characters were afraid and shell-shocked and didn't even try to "STOP THAT THING!!" Nope. All they did was try to avoid an indestructible 35-story monster. Yup.

I love that the military weren't either incompetent boobs or over-oppressive cattle-herders willing to kill anyone who dares to disobey their orders and go back into the fray (like so many cliche'd monster flicks). Nope. Last helo leaves at 0600. Be there. ANd they hit that monster with everything they had...M-16s, TOWs, Dragons, .50-calibres, A1-Abrams Fucking Main Battle Tanks shooting depleted uranium sabot shells, F-16s with some serious ordinance...

I just can't praise this one enough. Like Joel points out, there was no cliche heroism, no bumbling scientist who has figured it out, no video game-style "boss" kill (hit it 100 times in its left eye and it blows up)...just people running the fuck out of the way and dying in droves.

Go see it.

B Mac 3:56 PM  

Funny you should mention feeling queasy. Apparently you weren't the only ones...

Rickey Henderson 8:16 AM  

Nice write up--Rickey's favorite part of the flick was Hud. Good comedic relief there... he was kind of like Bill Paxton's character in "Aliens."

Moving on...

Arise internet minion, you have been tagged by Rickey to partake in the obnoxious “8 Random Things” meme. Act accordingly. (Or don’t. Rickey’s just looking to get this off his desk).

Bob/Poindexter "Chief Beer Advocate" 8:27 AM  

"Plus, the Military takes action in this movie, and we're not talking pot shots. They BRING IT; Full out, no prisoners, military strike stuff."

This has always iritated me about various sci-fi movies.

So many movies have the same theme:

1) Alien/Military force invades American city. 2) Miltary ignores threat, is quickly destroyed, or is just strangly absent. 3) Small band of rebels are the ONLY people who rise up and fight the threat. 4) Lame ending.

A perfect example of this would be the "V" series from the 1980's, and some ways even Red Dawn.

I much prefer the movies where the Military is seen kicking ass such as in Independence Day or the new War of the Worlds.

Now I just need to get out an see this along with "I am Legend". The wife never wants to see violent or doomsday movies, so I have to escape and go by myself.

BTW- Steves and Smitty have recommended the new Battlestar Gallactica. I have been renting it and have almost finished the first season. Pretty cool stuff.

Sopor 8:33 AM  

Hmmm, very interesting. I've definitely heard mixed reviews on this one, I had one friend specifically tell me to wait until DVD.

So it sounds like if you're into the standard ol' Wallyhood action crap, this movie ain't for you. And good. Cause I'm not. Well, I mean a good senseless action flick is nice now and then...But come on, do we really need another f&#%ing Rambo movie? Can't Stallone just retire and be done with it?!?!

And if Hud is anything like Hudson in Aliens, then that's reason enough to see it!

Oh, and I swear I'm going to review another beer some day... Maybe Sunday? BeerAdvocates last magazine issue was all about "top 25" lists, and I think a few of the beers on the list are in need of a review!

steves 9:51 AM  

I kind of liked V, but you are right. Red Dawn, OTOH, was pretty good, IMO. The director was very impressed with how the Mujahideen was able to fight so effectively in Afghanistan, armed with stolen AK's, RPG's and WWI era SMLE's that were left by the British. IIRC, he got Alexander Haig, former Sec. of State and head of NATO to help with the development of the story.

There were references to the US military, but the story was set behind enemy lines in occupied territory. I thought this was one of the better 80's movies.

steves 9:53 AM  

I have heard mixed reviews, but I still want to see this. Unfortunately, 'monster' movies aren't at the top of my wife's list.

Smitty 10:07 AM  

Red Dawn is one of the pivotal movies of my youth. Red Dawn and Indiana Jones formed the bulk of my imaginitive playtime as a kid.

B Mac 11:37 AM  

WOLVERINE!!!!!

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