Sunday, January 20, 2008
Well, folks, I never intended on seeing this movie, even though I'm a sucker for SCI-FI/Monster movies. But, I had recommendations from more than one person who saw it and though it was great. So, I went for it.
CLOVERFIELD is about a group of young people in New York City who are having a farewell party for one of them who is relocating to Japan (how appropriate for Godzilla fans) for a new employment opportunity, and are caught in an attack by a giant Godzilla sized monster-thingy that attacks the city. The entire movie is a replay of the video tape that is being shot starting before the party and continuing through all the events encountered by these folks while the attack is going on. When I say this is a video replay, it is just that. The camera is jerked around, dropped, poorly aimed, etc all for effect.
The movie starts out telling you that this is a video stored in military archives regarding events surrounding what is labeled as Code Name: CLOVERFIELD by the military, hence the name of the film. The original title was 1/18/2008, which was the release date of the film. Now that that part is out of the way, the next 20 plus minutes of this film concerns the personal videos of the people as they get ready for the party and certain inter-personal relationships between people in the film. I found this long and drawn out, I didn't like the people, their attitudes, their drunkeness and obsession with who is sleeping with who. I really didn't care. I found myself trying to stay focused on the movie instead of wondering what I would cook for dinner that night.
When the attack eventually comes, we are as much in the dark (no pun intended since this happens in the middle of the night) as those in the video are about what is happening. This, of course, was the intent and design of the film. We see destruction and panic and people die and people loot stores and all those statements on society that are supposed to make us shake our heads. At this point, I have to mention the controversy that recently arose with some people saying that the film exploits 911. All I can say to this is, I see why they would say this, with the falling buildings and dust and debris reminding us of what the Twin Towers looked like as they fell, but that is what falling buildings and debris look like in a big city, DUH, and I wish these people would just go away and get a life. There is zero exploitation here. It was filmed in New York City because it has so many recognizable buildings and landmarks that are easily recognized by the audience. That's it. Nothing more.
The rest of the movie concerns a subset of our little group of potential munchkins trying to get out of Manhattan. As their little group gets smaller and smaller, they encounter the military, which conveniently tell our group that they don't know what they are fighting, but it is winning. (I couldn't help but wonder how they got M-1 tanks into downtown Manhattan so quick!) We never really get to see more than a few parts of this monster until the end ... let's just say it's different. Also, it spawns all kinds of little ones that remind me of the creatures in the film PITCH BLACK that, of course, like to eat people. Golly Sgt. Carter ... surprise, surprise!
At one crucial point, our lead character gets a cell phone call from his estranged girlfriend/lover/whatever she was, who is trapped and injured in her apartment. Our little band of braveniks run off to try to save her. Of course we know what direction she is in, now, don't we! At this point I especially love one of the girls in our group running around in her high heels though the streets and rubble and never having a problem or complaining about them. She eventually takes then off while climbing a staircase to the apartment building. Good for her!
They find our poor little helpless girl, with a metal concrete support rod, which is still in the concrete, protruding through her shoulder and a good two feet beyond. But, our heroes manage to lift her out and 10 minutes later she is running down the street with no assistance even though she must have lost half the blood in her body.
I won't continue with my criticism of, if you haven't figured it out by now, a pretty poor movie. I will admit there were some situations that generated suspense and the CGI was very good. I can't compare this to other monster movies, because this isn't really a monster movie. The end is pathetic, even though I wasn't surprised how it ended, and I am left with a lot of unanswered questions, like: Where did the monster come from; the movie tells us, who cares? What happened to him ... er, it? Why is it that a creature that is 40 or 50 stories tall, can see one little person on the ground and eat just him? I want to know what the camera and battery used by these folks in the film was. It recorded, used its light, and used night vision mode for at least 6 hours without a recharge!! "I just gotta get me one of those!"
I was personally disappointed in this movie. It didn't hold my interest except for in a few spots, and even though the CGI effects were quite good, I still couldn't wait for it to be over. I can't give it more that a 5 out of 10.