Get off my lawn.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Just got back a while ago from seeing Cloverfield, the hugely hyped monster movie from JJ Abrams that came out today.

The basic plot is this: A bunch of people are at a party in New York city, and something roars in the distance. Whatever it is, it's big. It roars so loud that it breaks windows, and people soil themselves. Then the creature starts throwing things, and things get totally out of hand.

These kind of movies are supposed to be kind of a roller-coaster ride I think, but most of them seem to fall kind of flat. The whole movie is filmed with a handheld camera, from the point of view of someone with a camcorder: One of the people who is about to get stomped by the monster. So there's a lot of wild camera swinging, and it makes you a bit dizzy. Kind of like a roller-coaster ride, I guess...

But it turned out to be a pretty good movie. The movie is from the point of view of a small group of people just trying to get away from a walking doomsday machine covered in man-eating lice. There's no music, no narration, and there's just enough character development to make it feel like you'd just met some Hugo Boss models at a party when all hell broke loose and you all had to go home. There's no sort of tie-in with anything, no attempt to explain where such a monster might have come from, etc. It's just as it would be if you were part of the small group of people trying to avoid being killed. The camcorder point of view works pretty well in this context. There are even some points in the movie where the camcorder itself is used to good effect. In one part, the guy using the camcorder gets smashed to death by the monster, and you see the scene from his point of view. So, basically, "sky-ground-sky-ground-Uh!-squish-ground-sky-Uh!". Then the camcorder ends up lying in the grass looking at the dead former camera operator. Everything goes quiet, and the camcorder sits there in auto-focus, trying to decide whether to look at the grass in front of its lens, or the dead guy 2 feet away. You hear nothing but the "bzzt-bzzt-bzzt" of the focusing apparatus in the camera.

The monster is pretty impressive too. It's kind of like a new version of Godzilla: Big, weird, gross, and crazy.

Seems like it's going to be successful to warrant the obligatory sequel, but I'm not sure how they would pull that off.


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