January 21, 2008


(Lightly Spoilerish)

By the far the coolest trailer of last year was this mysterious untitled pic from JJ Abrams. Party - Explosion - Head of the Statue of Liberty comes crashing down. Well the movie that goes with that trailer is out and the movie is called "Cloverfield." Cloverfield as it turns out, is the rather harmless-sounding government code-name for the big nasty which makes life so difficult for our party-going New Yorkers. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but Monster! Run!

Most of the time, the monster wrecks a city, you get the monster view. Or the above the monster view. People run and scream and die like ants. Well this movie is from those ant's perspective and it sucks to be those people. Hand-held cameras bring the action home.

The days of picture perfect special effects is over. The real trick now is dirty, out of focus, out of frame, and seamless blended into the real world.

A movie like this is about balance. You want people who are compelling enough to be involved in their plight, but not too sympathetic that the inevitable deaths bring you down. This is a popcorn movie, after all. I just want to have some fun during the long weekend. Our central characters are unknown, good-looking, and good enough actors that they keep our sympathies. They maintain balance by committing acts of head-banging stupidity. I'm guessing the filmmakers were going for "heroic" but instead they landed on "too dumb to live"

In the end I pronounce this film to be "good" but I now pronounce the era of the hand held camera over. My inner ear can't take much more. I want my Steadicam.


Tyler said...

This was a very good movie for January (you know, the studios usually dump all the shit in this month).

Several scenes reminded me of the new coverage/camera shots of September 11th. I wonder if Abrams was sitting at home one day thinking how can I combine the remake of War of the Worlds with the 9/11 attacks?

Erin said...

Actually, I think Abrams has talked about this link. Somewhere. On-line or in a newspaper.

Anyway, he talked about how this sort of end-of-world scenario, and specifically the destruction of New York is very cathartic in a post-9/11 world.

Or maybe that was the reviewer.

Gah, the point being that many of the cinema's scariest moments are not in the big budget CGI moments (Ripley trying to get into that spacesuit without waking the alien - I don't think I breathed for two minutes) and often reflect our own personal fears, such as the dark and the unknown. Although 9/11 happened on a sunny day, what was so scary about the whole event is that we had no idea what was going on.

I actually think the movies dealing with the unnatural destruction of New York is much more cathartic in dealing with 9/11 than the stupid 9/11 based movies that have come out to date. Those movies are all about the people who overcame fear. But frankly, I can't relate to those people. Most everyone ran for their lives - like any sane person runs from monsters. Now THAT I can relate to.