Archive for the ‘Cloverfield’ Category

2008 Round-Up Review – Kept You Waiting, Huh

March 9, 2009

2008 was nowhere near as stellar a year for movies as 2007, but any year without There Will Be Blood, No Country, Michael Clayton, The Mist and a new Ghost in the Shell movie will suffer.

BUT. 2008 was one helluva year for genre film. Probably the best since 1999 or 1982. Those years gave us The Matrix, Iron Giant, Blade Runner, Wrath of Khan… y’know. Classics. 2008 has some serious future classics as well.

First let’s go backwards. The worst of the lot:

Worst Movies:

Rambo – In my review I wondered if I would ever warm up to this big stupid, bloody gore-stravaganza. I’ve liked dumber movies. And well, I kinda did warm up to it. Not a whole lot, mind you! It’s no great piece of art by any means but it’s worth seeing for… for… for the carnage. Yes. That’s it. It’s almost… cathartic? Is that cliche? Well, then, it fits. For a movie so full of cliche – bad guys kill good people, good guys kill bad guys – it executes every single one of them visceral aplomb. Recently, in the comments section I defend Stallone as someone who knows exactly how to pander to a sick, depraved audience. Genius or not, he knows what he’s doing. Just look at who he’s casting in his next movie, The Expendables. Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, Forest Whitaker, Jason Statham, Jet Li, ARNOLD … Bastard’s got my money again.

Quantum of Solace – I warmed up to Rambo’s idiocy, but I grew even colder towards James Bond’s latest escapade. I actively hate Quantum of Solace more and more with each passing day, my thoughts coalescing into a ball of climactic hotel-destroying fury. A misfire in every possible way. Dull villain, wafer-thin plot, pointless Bond girls – a boring Bond. Way to squander that reboot, fellas. Can’t believe ya did, but ya did. At least there’s still Bourne.

Pineapple Express – Hey, we got a weekend, some weed and woods in the backyard. Let’s make a movie!

Harold and Kumar 2 – Poop poop poop poop poop poop outdated George Bush jokes poop poop poop poop poop celebrity cameo poop poop poop poop poop. $10.75 please.

(more…)

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Giant Whale on Stilts – Cloverfield

January 19, 2008

For a gimmick movie Cloverfield sets out to do what its trailer promises and it does it well. The first-person monster movie trick succeeds in an entertaining, mostly successful way, even if none of it is all that new. Just be ready for lots of blinking. My eyes had to refocus a lot. Bourne and Blair Witch ain’t got nothing on Hud’s shaky hands.

The documenter, named Hud – why that name? Perhaps HUD for the Heads-Up Display in first-person shooters or Hudson, the wisecracking Marine from Aliens – is, well, the wisecracking buddy of Rob, who’s off to Japan, or he would be, if it wasn’t for the giant monster that trashes his going-away party. Manhattan’s under attack so what’s a band of good-looking 20-somethings to do? Help save the girl who might have sex with Rob again, that’s what! And that’s just what Rob sets out to do, with Hud in tow and camera in hand, Rob’s brother Jason and two girls, they try to escape the rampaging beast and reach Rob’s would-be lover uptown. By walking through miles of subway tunnels and dozens and dozens of flights of stairs.

HOT NEW YORKERS

The main characters’ actions are really what require the most amount of disbelief suspension, their initial motivations are more of a MacGuffin than anything, just an excuse to get the movie rolling. And it rolls, tumbles, crashes and explodes (mostly) satisfactorily. The first-person shakiness really does amp the immediacy and places you right there. Obvious 9/11 news footage comparisons aside, producer/brainguy J.J. Abrams has a knack for transmitting audiences into his worlds – what would you do if you were on the island in LOST? – and it’s all very entertaining and swiftly and confidently executed. The movie builds up these schmucks, places them in mortal peril for a while, then stops in record time. It tells you right at the beginning where it’s going to end.

Is it the revolutionary event film it’s hyped up to be? In some ways, sure. This movie isn’t eye-rolling dumb shit like Godzilla or anything Roland Emmerich has touched. It’s pretty damn well made. There’s no soundtrack until the end and it does feel like found footage at times. It’s a solid flick with tinges of excitement and suspense, but that’s all I got. Tinges. I do like it more the more I think about it and it’s also the best film of 2008 so far but it just didn’t send me marching down the aisles trumpeting its genius. The worst thing about it is the talky character bits outnumber the scary monster bits. And the scary bits? Well, I wasn’t really scared by Cloverfield. It’s certainly not the next Alien although the monster’s final reveal is sort of similar.

Metaphor? Nah.

Besides Alien I can’t help but feel I’ve seen it all before. There’s a whole history of monster-attacking-metropolis movies like, y’know, Godzilla or the very recent The Host. There’s also a video game genre, I mentioned it before, maybe you heard of this too, called first-person-shooters. The best of them, Half-Life 2, did everything Cloverfield does years ago: giant monsters, treks through dark underground tunnels, military bombardments, even the monster concepts and accompanying sound effects are the same. Cloverfield does have the distinction of not focusing on patriotic presidents or war heroes or scientists. It uses real, dopey people so it’s got that going for it.

I wasn’t disappointed in Cloverfield. I got exactly what I expected. But why no mention of the Hanso Foundation in the credits. C’mon, J.J. you did it with M:I-III Mission: Impossible III, why not this?! Maybe the Hanso Foundation will be a Black Mesa rival in the eventual Half-Life movie. Directed by J.J. Abrams! Starring the new Spock! C’mon, cinema! Catch up, already!

Something familiar