Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Couple of Quick Things


The first is this: I've fallen ill with the plague that yearly strikes all Houstonians. A nasty cough, sinuses that fill to overflowing, general aches and discomfort and a small, annoying, fever.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I must tell you that I will likely die. Soon.

Before the illness took me, I managed to get to a large screen to see Cloverfield. As I feel it is my duty to provide public feedback on popular sci-fi and fantasy works from the geeky perspective, I will do so now. As always, I will try my hardest to keep this space free of spoilers.


Wash dies.


Okay. There are a couple of things you should know before going in to see the monster movie Cloverfield. The idea is that a handheld camcorder captures a ground-level view of a giant monster attack on New York. That much is clear from the trailers. For anyone expecting a jerky vision of destruction from the point of view of the screaming citizens in a Godzilla movie, it is in there.

But the first thing you must keep in mind about this monster movie is that it is not meant to be viewed as a movie at all.

There are seizure warnings at the ticket booth. Anyone who has spent more than half an hour on YouTube knows the queasy feeling associated with hand-held video. Cloverfield is well over an hour of that, so let your eyes relax and glaze a bit. The director is good enough to show you what needs to be seen. In that way, this film is more a series of powerful stills broken up by incoherent motion and yelling which is often unimportant to the story. It's a slide show. Don't vomit.

The second thing to remember about this monster movie is that it is not about a monster at all. Sure, there is a monster in it. And a monster is a plot point, I suppose. But Cloverfield is no more about a giant monster crushing Manhattan than Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is about a giant monster crushing Manhattan.

Note to self: Time to break out the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Director's Cut DVD again. There is no better way to cheer up a sick person than with that film. Every single time I see it I end up weeping for about an hour afterwards, but even sick people need a good cathartic cry now and again.

Cloverfield has a side-plot about some screaming people and relationships or something, but the movie isn't about that either.

The problem with my spoiler-free review is that I can't tell you what the movie is actually about without giving it away completely and leaving you either pissed that I ruined it or so smug watching it in the theatre with people there to see a "Monster Movie" that actual fights may break out during the pre-show -- Probably right between the ad for Ford trucks and the AT&T "please turn off your cellphone" message. Once the real previews start there is rarely time for violence.   

In short, unless you are prone to nausea and motion sickness, I'd recommend Cloverfield. Due to the filming style, this may be an sci-fi movie which actually plays better at home on DVD. You may want to keep that in mind.

You may also want to keep Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in mind as well. 

It is, after all, cold and flu season.

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