Saturday, January 26, 2008

Popcorn for One: CLOVERFIELD

OMG!! I have seen THE best monster I have seen in years. If you like stuff like this you have to take my word for it and spend part of an afternoon being taken for a great ride.

Is this the greatest Giant Monster movie ever made? Well, I suppose depending on how you feel about that kind of thing you could make an argument that it just might be. I do not know if it is going to become a ‘classic’ like the original GODZILLA film, but it may be too soon to tell. From this point on however, I think any film of this type, especially American films in the genre, are going to be compared to what J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves & Co. have produced.

If you have been reading or viewing any of the stuff that I have linked to here, already I don’t think I’m going to reveal anything you don’t already know. However, and just to play fair I’m going to insert for your benefit:


Rob Hawkins (played by Michael Stahl-David) has accepted a job in Japan. His brother Jason (Grounded For Life’s Mike Vogel) is throwing him a farewell party and has entrusted a friend Hud (T.J. Miller recently in the sitcom ‘Carpoolers’) to videotape the whole thing. Unknown to Rob & Hud the camera they are using contains video of a day that Jason and their long-time friend Beth (Odette Yustman) spent together, revealing that their relationship had grown beyond friendship. Occasionally, when Hud or someone else pauses the tape, we see what remains of Rob & Beth’s day in Coney Island. I think this is wise, since it adds to our sympathy for both and makes it easier to understand Rob’s motivations later.

During the party, Rob has an argument with Beth, causing her to leave and him to start brooding. Initially the party is disrupted by what many think is an earthquake. Going to the apartment roof, they witness a huge explosion in the mid-town area, followed by a shower of debris, causing them to run down into the street. From that point (about twenty minutes in) the action does not let up for most of the rest of the movie.

Rob, Jason, and Hud along with Jason’s girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas) and a party attendee Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), on whom Hud has developed a crush, join thousands of New Yorkers trying to flee the city. They have seen something huge amidst the destruction and even the few news reports they see on various televisions cannot completely reveal what it is. Armed troops are going about the city and it obviously is not safe to remain so the group makes its way to the Brooklyn Bridge as an escape route. While on the bridge Rob gets a phone call from Beth revealing that she has been injured and asking for his help. At this point, other things start to happen, making it unsafe to continue to another borough.

When one of the group is killed the rest try to convince Rob that returning for Beth would be a mistake. The situation continues to change, and we get to see more of the main creature and things, which are apparently parasites, shed from it as it continues to rampage. All of this causes three of them to join Rob in his mission back uptown. Naturally, things go from horrible to down right insane as the military announces that Manhattan may be beyond saving and a ‘final solution’ for the situation may be necessary.

I could probably go on for a half dozen more paragraphs breaking down the movie, but I don’t want to completely ruin all the surprises. Reviews seem mixed, if generally positive, and I think the more negative ones are from reviewers who don’t like anything but melodramas set in Edwardian England. All reviewers no matter if pro or con mention the camera technique, or rather apparent lack thereof, which bothers some folks. I found it amusing that the ticket booth for the theatre where I saw the movie had posted ‘warnings’ that some people might be sensitive to the jarring camera work, even causing motion sickness in some. Personally, I didn’t have that problem, but saw at least three people leave the theatre between a third and half way through, one saying something to the people she was with before getting up.

Some folks are complaining about the ending of the film, but it seems to me that it allows a sequel. Then again, you could let it end in the way it did and the movie would still be good for what it is. Scary, exciting, with likable characters you care about and small touches of humor to keep it from becoming a total downer.

Finally, the fanboy sites seem to agree that this SHOULD have been how the American GODZILLA movie was done. If you see the movie and remember GINO (Godzilla In Name Only, as it has become known) you’ll know what they and me for that matter mean when they say that.

Four stars.
As most of you know, I like to get to the theatre early enough to catch the previews. Of course, nowadays most movie chains have some kind of pre-movie program that tosses in promos for movies, television shows and a good half dozen commercials for different products. What I enjoy are the actual theatrical trailers, or what we used to call “Coming Attractions” when I was a kid.

There were at least eight, but I’ll only mention those that I remember.

The trailers for HELLBOY 2, IRON MAN & the teaser for the up-coming new STAR TREK all made me want to see the films. The last because I’m a long-time ST fan and have seen all the previous ones at least once. Using the Black Sabbath song ‘Iron Man’ was an easy choice for that trailer, but it so absolutely nails the feeling of what you see. In addition, hearing Leonard Nimoy do the first line from the famous ST opening sent chills.

JUMPER looks like a teen romance with good SFX & Samuel L. Jackson as the heavy. No interest on my part and I didn’t hear anybody reacting as I had with the three other movies. Finally, 10,000 BC looks like they borrowed CGI from Animal Planet’s dinosaur documentaries and the plot from The Rock’s SCORPION KING. Can we say ‘direct to DVD’ within a week, kids?
I got nothing else!
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