Saturday, January 19, 2008


J.J. Abrams' much-anticipated film Cloverfield arrived in theaters yesterday. Though I haven't seen any of his work beyond the 1st season of Lost, I appreciate a good viral marketing campaign, so I thought I'd check it out.

SPOILERS: Highlight text or hit CTRL+A to view.

Rather than discuss the entire movie, I'll just mention a few points:

1. Monster Design.
I thought the monster was frightening. I expected to see some kind of Godzilla-like bipedal lizard, but this giant, four-legged, buggy thing with a tail was much more original.

2. Predictable sequence of events.
Nothing is much of a surprise in this film. You know when the movie begins that the characters on camera are dead by the end. You identify the inconsequential characters (read: "monster food") pretty quickly. You can even hear the contrived, flowery dialogue between the leading man and his woman long before their reunion ("You came back for me," *love*).

3. Sci-Fi vs. Monster Movie.
I expected this film to be a science fiction film. I found out that it's a monster movie. It's a good monster movie, and it really pulls you into the survival mentality of the characters, but a viewer who expected answers about what the monster is and where it came from would be left wanting. The ending, while not surprising, is unsatisfying.

4. Hand-held camera perspective.
The first time I'd ever seen a low-budget Handycam film was 1999's The Blair Witch Project. Nine years ago, it was difficult to swallow the idea that a group of hysterical campers would continuously record their entire horrific ordeal (who in their right mind would grab the camera before running and screaming off into the darkness after some unknown entity attacked their tent in the middle of the night?!). However, with Cloverfield, it's not so far-fetched. Extras in the background are seen snapping pictures of the carnage with their iphones. News helicopters fly overhead, beaming the live disaster to 250 million homes.
"This is huge. People are gonna want to see this," is all the cameraman says, and in the age of YouTube and Web 2.0, I don't find that so unbelievable at all.

5. Capitalism 101: Product Placement.
I believe in capitalism, so I'm forgiving of product placement in films and TV. A display of Nokia phone batteries, or an Aquafina soda machine, fine. However, there's one scene where the placement couldn't be more glaringly obvious. Yes, the filmmakers tried to downplay it with a dutch-angle shot and intense red lights, but that Mountain Dew logo behind Marlena's head is clear as day and extremely distracting.

I didn't have high expectations for this film, and I wasn't disappointed. While I'm definitely not J.J. Abram's biggest fan,
Cloverfield is one hell of an adrenaline rush, and I still recommend it.

Digg This

Add to Technorati Favorites

1 comment:

Kevin Scobey said...

Hey. I don't think I've ever seen a hidden spoiler before. That's awesome! I don't think I knew about the "Control A" command either. I also like your "Dumb and Dumber" analogy (and the movie). -Cool blog.