Monday, January 28, 2008

movie review monday: cloverfield

I kind of want to summarize this one myself instead of looking for a summary to cut and paste into here. First of all you should just know that you will either love this movie or hate it. There is no inbetween and that's exactly what it felt like in the theater as I watched it.

Cloverfield is portrayed as a video tape that is part of a secret government file that was found in what was formerly known as Central Park. The tape was in a video camera that belonged to a 20 somethingish guy who was leaving for a new job opportunity in Japan the next day and his friends decided to throw him a surprise going away party and tape the whole thing for him as a going away present. During the party there is what they think is an earthquake but when everyone runs up to the roof of the building, they see a lot of strange things happening. As the movie unfolds, you discover some sort of giant monster is attacking Manhattan. Everyone is trying to get out of the city and to someplace safe. Because it is such an insane night, they decide to keep videotaping to be able to try to make sense of it all later.

So first of all, the picture is jumpy and shaky and unpredictable because it's filmed from a hand held video camera and the person doing the filming doesn't even own that particular camera. There's a lot of running and screaming and whatnot which sometimes in the best of movie circumstances is annoying and at time in this flim almost intolerable. I have to say that this kind of stuff usually really gets to me and I didn't have any problems during Cloverfield.

Second of all, this movie is a glimpse into the lives of a few people during a crazy event. There is a small amount of set up for some of the characters that explains a little of who they are, but it's not like a typical story that spends a lot of time at the beginning laying out why you should care about each character. The whole movie is just a section of events. There's no explanation for the monster or even what it really is even though you do get to see it a few times. The ending is unsatisfying as far as plot lines go. There are some parts that are a little unbelievable even in the middle of the whole supposition of events anyway, but I'm willing to forgive them because with adrenaline I guess they are techincally possible.

In any case though, I loved it. It was scary because it was tense. I kind of knew what was going to happen at the end from the beginning and I don't even think it's a plot spoiler to say that at all. To me it was pretty common sense. At first I was disappointed that we got to see the monster because I thought it might have been scarier if you didn't really know what was going on, but then I realized just because I saw the monster didn't mean I had any clearer understanding of what was happening than the characters did. There were a lot of twists and turns as they worked on getting out of Manhattan and I was on the edge of my seat pretty much for the whole movie. There was a little gore, but it wasn't overpowering and it was definitely appropriate to the plot. I can appreciate that kind of gore.

With all the buzz leading up to it, with the mixed reviews from critics and moviegoers, and the amount of money this movie has made, it will be interesting to see if we get a chance to see that monster again. It's hard to say. I'm a big fan of just leaving well enough alone, but then again, there's a lot of angles they could choose to explore that could be kind of cool. I'm hestitant to get too excited about the possibility of a sequel or what have you because I was super stoked about there being more Matrix movies and we all know how well that turned out.

I'd love for more people I know to go see it and tell me what they think. K and I loved it, but we were definitely part of a small group in the packed theater that felt that way. Thank you J.J. Abrams for not catering to the lowest common denominator. Again.

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