Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monster Movie(s)

Brandi and I went to see Cloverfield last night. I enjoyed everything about it – except for the idiots in the theater.

Why do people pay to see a movie if all they're going to do is play with their cellphones and talk to each other? Every time I get excited about seeing a movie in the theater, it seems like these same damned teenage assholes show up and just cheat me out of my enjoyment. It's bad enough that they talk loudly, but those friggin' cellphone screens are so bright, it distracts me and pulls me out of the movie.


Anyway, Cloverfield.

It's about as inherently goofy as any other giant monster movie and doesn't hold up to a lot of heavy critical analysis, but you know what? It's a GIANT MONSTER MOVIE. It doesn't need to. All it needs to do is be fun, and I thought it was definitely that.

Awesome giant monster? Check. Massive and spectacular scenes of destruction? Check. Surprises? Check. Scary scenes? Oh yeah. Moderately interesting characters? Close enough.

And, for what it's worth, I really enjoyed seeing a giant monster movie from the perspective of the civilians on the ground, rather than from the POV of yelling generals, brilliant scientists and heroic soldiers. The creature design by the Tippett studio was really cool, too.

SPOILER: Some folks are going to be frustrated by the lack of an explanation for the creature's existence and/or its motivations, but I thought leaving it unexplained was a great touch... although if you watch carefully, there's a hint to the beastie's origin near the end.

As a warm-up for Cloverfield, I rented the direct-to-DVD knock-off, Monster over the weekend. It was made by a low budget studio called The Asylum, which specializes in fast, dirt-cheap imitations of big studio blockbusters. Among their other titles are I Am Omega, AVH: Alien Vs Hunter, and Transmorphers. (!)

Working from the same basic premise of a giant monster attack on a city being recorded on home video by civilians in the middle of things, Monster was mildly entertaining, with a couple of good moments scattered amidst a lot of really boring crap. Still, it could have been worse. At least Monster was set in Tokyo, traditional stomping grounds of gargantuan critters. The cover art is particularly amusing as it not only riffs on Cloverfield, but the Korean monster film from last year, The Host. Those Asylum guys are sneaky.

Anyway, I recommend Cloverfield. It's may not be the greatest monster movie ever made, but it's damned good, and a heck of a thrill ride.


Andy said...

You have cited the EXACT reasons why I refuse to pay to see a movie in the theatre anymore. Rude people suck.

What did you think of the Star Trek teaser?

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, I third the damn rude people. I just watch movies at home. although you make this movie sound interesting, I doubt I can handle the shaky cam approach.

J. Spath said...

I see a movie every week (Cloverfield this week and I liked it ok) and I've often had the same problem with people. I've mostly remedied it by going to the earliest movie they have showing. You're very rarely going to have those obnoxious people around at 10am on Saturday morning. Plus, at my theater, movies before noon are a buck cheaper.

Bill Spangler said...

Haven't seen CLOVERFIELD yet, but I like the idea that this is a reaction to 9/11, just as GOJIRA was a reaction to the atomic bomb. And the background of the monster is cryptic because the background of the 9/11 attacks is still, on many levels, cryptic. FWIW

John Platt said...

There are no movie theaters near me any more, but when I *did* live near one, I used to go at 10am on Sunday morning. I was usually the only one in the place! A great way to see a flick without the annoyance of other people.

Dan Cooney said...

We have two that my girlfriend and I go see movies and its a crap shoot whether we'll actually be able to watch the movie or want to strangle ever teenage punk with a cell phone. GRRR. Even when I was 20 years young, I had enough sense to be courteous during a movie. Sometimes, shouting matches break out and at that point, my mindset being into the film has changed to "I should've brought my baseball bat."

Anthony Schiavino said...

I absolutely loved this movie. This is what would happen if a giant monster decimated New York and it was being filmed by a camera on the street. People have had many problems with this movie, none of which I understand. When you really think about the premise I don't think it could have been done better any other way having the same effect. We didn't need to see the monster as a whole. When we did it in Central Park it really wasn't as exciting. It seems they showed it because they had to. I want to be entertained when I go to the movies and shell out money for a ticket that costs too much. This was such a movie.