Tuesday, June 23, 2009

_Cloverfield_ delivers the monster fun

I liked the teaser trailers for the movie Cloverfield (imdb). Although they were a little cryptic, I was pretty sure they were about a monster attacking New York. It took me a while, but this past week I got around to watching the movie.

They did not lie. The basic schtick here is a first-person handicam view of a monster attack.

Spoilers coming.

The thing that pleased me most about this movie is that it never gave in to the temptation to make heroes out of the characters. They were pretty small people caught up in a big thing. Okay, they try to save a friend who's trapped in the rubble caused by the monster. But they never try to attack the monster; they don't turn out to be critical to the creature's Achilles heel or anything like that.

It's a bit the opposite of something like Forrest Gump, where Forrest just happens to turn up at every major event of the 20th century. Maybe they encounter the monster a little more than chance would lead you to believe; that's about it for coincidence here. The characters do some dumb things that are pretty believable for real people caught up in a nigh-incomprehensible crisis.

The special features indicate that the big monster was actually a newly-hatched baby, flailing about out of fear. However, the movie doesn't convey that. I'm glad they have the backstory, and I'm glad they didn't shoehorn it in....didn't have the characters encounter a scientist, for example, who wanted to talk about his pet theory of the monster, a pet theory that of course would happen to be exactly the truth, but which no one else believed.

I'm not bitter about bad exposition in scifi at all.

Frankly, we hardly get any information about the monster's origin, and that's just fine with me. The movie is about ground level at a monster attack. It's a realistic portrayal of that.

There are some great scenes and images. My favorites include:
  • When the characters hunt up the apartment building their trapped friend is in, and finally get within sight of it, only to see that it's slumped over, leaning against the neighboring building. Their friend is on the 39th floor.
  • When the head of the statue of liberty barrels down the street and lands in front of the characters.

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