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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


the air that's mine to breathe

i wasn't really "eagerly awaiting" cloverfield - i like monster movies about as much as i dislike reality-handheld-camera-filmed junk, and so a godzilla-meets-blair-witch mashup wouldn't have been compelling, except that i enjoy jj abrams' storytelling style.

the result was a polarizing film - read user comments on reviews, they hit both sides of the fence equally. and it certainly has its faults - it's much too short and ends up feeling unsatisfying; the easily shaken will hate the camerawork; the pacing at the beginning of the movie is fairly slow; and, of course, it doesn't explain enough for the scifi fan to feel like it was a real monster movie.

greater than its faults, though, is the film's success in reinventing the monster movie for our generation. abrams sets new signposts for the genre in several areas (light spoilers ahead, beware):

- point-of-view: barely any time is spent away from the victims in the midst of the disaster. most monster movies hang out for hours with the military, in a roomful of generals with phones and maps; this film spends about five minutes with any dialogue from soldiers or cops. abrams also puts the 'narrator' character behind the camera. the result is jarring - because you've spent so much time watching the events unfold before "your" eyes, the feeling that you're there doesn't stop after you leave the theater.

- reality: it was refreshing, not annoying, seeing this film happen while among normal people. they didn't sound too much like actors pretending to be regular folks, and the central cast is small enough and close enough that you connect to those characters rather quickly.

- attention to detail: you certainly fear the monster, but you also fear the collateral damage from collapsing buildings and tunnels, you fear being hit by friendly fire from the military, and of course you fear what comes with the monster. part of the 'incomplete' feeling is the lack of any frame of reference about the monster's origin and the lack of centered shots on it; the tradeoff is a floor-level view of the action that feels less fake than a lot of films that don't feature an enormous CGI monster.

originality being such a rarity in hollywood, a film this ambitious and interesting is more than welcome; that ambition carries it over its problems and sets it up as one of the better scifi/suspense/action films i've seen.


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Blogger Rob Says:

Agreed, I thought it was original, and I thought that the motion of the camera actually brought me into the movie more at times. The movie was far more than "fearing the monster".

I also liked the uncertainty that they knew the monster was out there and you could hear the destruction going on, but you didn't know how close it was.

Blogger ryanham Says:

Yeah, I liked it much more than I thought I would. Maybe that was due to the encompassing nature of the story, the way it was shot, or the people running up and down the steps in the theater at seemingly appropriate times.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

apparently brian and i weren't the only ones to not notice the distance shot at the very end; there are a lot of folks complaining about the absolute lack of explanation about where the monster came from. man, i really wish they gave it a name in the movie... henceforth, it shall be referred to on this site as "Robin Burbrink"

hey, we also missed this at the very end of the credits. explanation is here.

Blogger Artie Says:

Can we just call all monsters Robin Burbrink from now on?


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