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Friday, February 15, 2008
SO I FINALLY SAW CLOVERFIELD
After my unexpected attack of full-blown motion sickness the first time I attempted to sit through the "you are there" giant monster flick CLOVERFIELD, I finally saw the movie via a reviewer's DVD and can offer up a review. The account of my literally ill-fated first attempt can be found here .
There's really not much to say about CLOVERFIELD other than that it succeeds at what it set out to do, which is depict what it might be like to be at ground zero if an unexplained giant monster strolled into lower Manhattan and made its destructive way north. This apocalyptic event is captured on handheld video by an annoying guy pressganged into documenting a friend's going-away party — a nightmare of sickening yuppies and vacuous pretty people — and along with footage of the mayhem and carnage, the camera records the guy whose party gets inconsiderately harshed by the monster making his way uptown to try and rescue his girlfriend who may be dying under tons of rubble. Clocking in at a short eighty-five minutes, it's okay for what it is.
What CLOVERFIELD isn't is a monster movie; if you, like me, are seeking wall-to-wall daikaiju mayhem of the Toho-style variety, you'd better look elsewhere. The unknown beastie in this flick has a total of two minutes of screen time, maybe, and really is nothing more than a three-story McGuffin
to place us alongside the protagonists as Hell on Earth erupts all around them. The same story could have been set in the bombing of Dresden, or any other such city-decimating moment in history, so the monster comes off as rather incidental. There are those who read the monster as an anthropomorphization of the horror witnessed on 9/11, especially since the big wiggly begins its rampage where it does and comes from out of nowhere to inflict great damage and suffering, but the tie-in to 9/11 is in no way as literal or visceral as the direct relation held by Godzilla to the nuclear horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in his 1954 debut.
Godzilla surfaces in 1954, giving a visage to the unspeakable capabilities of modern warfare.
The subsequent entries in the Toho Godzilla cycle lost the original intent of a literalized, walking atomic holocaust and veered into the cartoonish (though fun) rubber suit slugfests beloved for nearly six decades, and I wonder what the filmmaker's of CLOVERFIELD are setting out to do with the sequel they've announced as hitting the screen next year. Is it going to be another person's camcorder account of the monster — and its fleas — leveling the Big Apple? Or will the creators take a whole different approach and tell the story from the monster's P.O.V., aimlessly wandering about through the city's canyons of steel and concrete, confused at where it is and wondering what the hell all those annoying two-legged things are? I hope it's not the former because CLOVERFIELD said what it had to say the first time out and did so well enough — despite the irritating, disposable protagonists — , so if it were my call I'd say either ditch a sequel entirely, or give us a Toho-style monster fight where the monster from the first film — let's call him GigantoWhatzitz — has to defend itself from another big critter, only this one being something a bit more homegrown, like a big honkin' rat or cockroach. Hell, Megalon was a huge roach — his Japanese name is the Japlish "Megaro;" Hell-looooo, "Mega-Roach" much? — and he kicked ass most awesomely, so let's see some of that!
Megalon: a badassed monster if ever there was one.
Bottom line: TRUST YER BUNCHE and wait for DVD to see CLOVERFIELD. You'll be spared possible crippling motion sickness, as well as saving twelve bucks instead of spending it on intentionally crappy and jarring camerawork; yeah, I know that's part of the point of the film's "realism," but...