Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cloverfield: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Spoilers, although it won't make any difference.)

I will give Abrams the credit he deserves for taking the whole idea of the Blair Witch Project and turning into a movie actually worth watching. I also hope that he takes such progressive film-making and revitalizes the new Star Trek prequel, for nothing less than something spectacular will bring that series back alive again. But first, to the movie at hand.

Talk about realism. There is nothing as traumatic as the point of view of people who are living through any particular disaster. I guess Abrams had to wait some seven years after 9/11 to pull this one off. The simple plot line is monster destroys New York City. Why does it always have to be NYC? Cause destroying Omaha isn't as romantic or as grand a movie. Anyway... and he puts just enough PTSD moments into the movie to make you parallel the monster destroying skyscrapers with the terrorists (M..terrorists...) anyway. The other amazing thing is that the camera work, done through a amateur video camera does shake and vibrate throughout the whole thing. The most endearing point of the movie is listening to Hud, the carrier of the movie, and seeing how ADHD he is. He is, to compare this to a Greek tragedy, the Chorus, the conscious of the movie, whose mind wanders and ponders the events even as they are happening. He is the only one who is apart from the events enough to continue filming even as terrible things are happening all around him. And with that aloofness, we sympathize with him because we too are aloof with the movie. Yes there is a monster destroying NYC. We've seen that before, and the characters, we know, are probably going to get offed because at the beginning they talk about finding the camera in Central Park. So we don't care about the characters, except for Hud, because the rest is cliched and banal. Having us there as part of the action, in the 1st person view of Hud, tho, makes him stand out in the film. It makes the video game version of this movie all the more easy to make.

Because essentially, the main thing that Abrams gave the world was a credible, watchable version of the PC game Half-Life, even before producers film and probably bauch that movie. There is nothing they can do to make a Half Life movie that will appease the players of that game. So, this is Godzilla for the 21st century. For the ADHD, game addicted, bored-out-of-their-skull audience that has come to recognize that there is nothing new in the world of film making. And Abrams acknowledges that, and takes us along for the ride anyway.

The Ugly part about my experience with the film was my fellow audience members, who hated the ending and stomped out disgusted that they didn't get to see the monster killed...if indeed it was ever killed. And while it's true that there are enough plot holes to drive tanks through, including the fact that monsters should be killed by bombs dropped by the Stealth Bomber, you sometimes have to overlook those holes. Oh, and the helicopter was flying way too low and should have been miles over the city instead of below the skyscraper tops. Okay, so you can't overlook every plot hole.

The most remarkable thing, however, and what I leave this review with, was my walking out of the movie theatre into a world that was at once familiar and totally alien. I had been running down the streets of NYC trying to get away from bloodsuckers and a giant lizard thing, and witnessing the destruction of one of the greatest cities on Earth, and then I come out and I'm outside a desolate mall (cause it had closed), and went back to Borders to write this review. A strange blend of the apocolyptic and the familiar, which is exactly what Abrams was trying to do. So overall, I give it a B. And go see it in the theatres, just because the DVD version will be too easy to skip past parts and ruin the experience.

[Addendum: I read more reviews from other critics, and the one thing that struck me as significant is when one of them called the 20 year old characters in the movie "self-absorbed." No wonder we don't like them... and yet, they are the actual next generation. Look at the pictures on Myspace, and you'll see scenes of the party all over the place. It is a logical leap, therefore, to see the monster as a symbol of any destructive force that will destroy the fantasy world that the characters live in. Be it terrorists, or a dramatic economical downturn, or AIDS, or whatever. This, I think, is what Abrams was really trying to accomplish with this movie. It was a sociological comment on the Myspace (the critic said "Facebook") Generation. ]

Now if I can just figure out why it was called Cloverfield to begin with.

No comments:

Post a Comment