Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On a field of clovers and nauseous audiences

22nd January 2008, Tuesday

Before I start, this post might contains some spoilers for the film, so if you are wanting to catch it (which I highly recommend to anyone who want something much contrast to your usual blockbuster movies), please refrain from reading this post.

After 85 minutes of bracing oneself to endure the shaky condition of a digital viewcam, it was a wretched ending that got the bunch of teens behind us to hurl vulgarities for a $9.50 waste...
I am not surprised with their hostile reception over "Cloverfield" because it surely isn't a movie the average Singaporean who had always had taste for big blockbuster with major explosions (i.e. Michael Bay) or senseless comedies or horror flicks.
On the surface, "Cloverfield" seems to be a perfect monster/disaster movie which the papers labeled as "Godzilla meets Blair Witch Project (because of the video camera similarity)" which incurred the interest of many unsuspecting viewers.
However this movie is far from what we perceived it to be.

It began as a trailer before Transformers when we caught a scene we thought might be some New York yuppie story with a bunch of friends sending another off for his overseas work stint before an earthquake hit the East Coast of the States, only to be realized that it is something more ominous than the seismological phenomenon.
The scene ended with the the prominent head of the Statue of Liberty been dismembered and hurled towards where the protagonist stayed.
There was no title or who's responsible for this altogether, just a mere flash of "January 2008".

This on itself got many buzzing about this movie till later on we knew it was a creation J.J. Abrams, the director of "Mission Impossible III" and the next Star Trek movie as well as producer of hit tv series like "Felicity", "Alias" and of course his recent success in "Lost" (which I am still a fan of despite been leaving many faithful audiences "lost" with the myriad of storylines which kept growing).
Abrams got the idea of creating a monster that terrorizes the States just like the cult figure of Godzilla.

While some fanboys in the States had been trying to scavenge on whatever clue there is on the film before it's official release.
The producers didn't embark on any major publicity campaign for the film like almost all major blockbusters these days and there were just a few viral websites which really didn't give us much clue about the movie and most important the creature that was terrorizing Manhattan.
It got the netizens discussing fervently on how the creature would look like weeks before the official release of the film and some even tried their best to doctor the short trailer to highlight that Cloverfield (the creature name given by the government in the film) bears a tail.

Over in Singapore, only true film buffs like my buddy Foo was kept in tab of the development and in turn perk my interest in the movie while the rest of the island remained in the dark of the movie except for the occasional TV trailers and advertisement on the papers of a decapitated Statue of Liberty.

The 2 of us tried to rope in the rest of the Wrecking gang with our partners (my wife was sold easily since she loves the Godzilla franchise), but in the end only TW could make it, a decision he live to regret later.

On the Sunday afternoon at AMK Hub Cathay, there was no sellout crowd but still 3/4 full as we raised some eyebrows when a pair of parents brought their toddlers into the cinema.

The movie began narrating how Rob, the lead had developed a relationship with the beautiful Beth and how she seemingly rejected his interest by bringing a guy-friend to his send-off party, organized by Rib's brother, Jason.
The video camera was first held by Rob when he was at Beth's apartment, then Jason en route to get the food for the party and finally Hud, Rob's buddy who remains the only cameraman for the entire misadventure.
In reality, it is to be noted that T.J. Miller, the actor portraying Hud is indeed the cinematographer for the movie as well.
Talk about keeping the budget down... as well as employing an entire cast of unknowns and without any soundtrack to add realism that it was a home-made video.
The movie sells on the realism part with regards to how normal citizens of New York react to the alien (it seem to be) invasion rather than how the President and military dealt with it in all other movies of this genre.

So we have Hud and the gang running around for safety as Clovie created immense havoc in New York and but mid point, it can be rather gut-wrenching as people who suffer from subtle motion-sickness might not be able to take it.
I had warned the gang that it might resemble remotely to our self-made travel video "Tokyo Wreckers" in terms of the whole shakiness.
TW was one of the victim of this alternative film shooting and he admitted he was badly affected halfway through the movie.

As for the monster itself, after the 1st half hour or so was seen with the tail wrecking the Brooklyn Bridge, killing Jason.
Later on we have a better glimpse of the amphibian-like creature in news clips before the characters encountered in the crossfire between Clovie and the army.
It has a roar which resembled a banshee screech and that of Godzilla, it seems like it possessed several limbs and a face as butt ugly as the Predator's mother.
Then it has an army of parasites that resided on its skin and began to disassociate from their host and starting to terrorize the citizens of New York, mice & men alike.

There were several technical problems or issues that I dislike (I actually didn't mind the puke-incurring moments)
As like many movies there had to be product placement..In this case it's Nokia... Rob was using a Nokia mobile and seemingly it can get the regular transmission despite the chaos and most probably destruction of the signal stations. Then there was the big ad in the train station as well as if it didn't sell the brand loud enough.
Beth, who Rob vowed to save despite the adversities was actually a wonder woman.
She had a steel rod pierced through her chest ribcage, perhaps just missing the heart, but seems to be able to prance like a pony after the gang managed to pull her out off the sticky situation.
She then survived a really serious helicopter crash (well the rest survived as well) and most probably survive the bomb blast in the end.
The handheld camera seems to be indestructible as well after Hud had dropped it time and again; the lens didn't even crack after the heli accident.
I don't even want to talk about the lifespan of the battery which is way unbelievable.

In conclusion, "Cloverfield" is a movie either you love it or hate it, and no in-between I suspect.
It added reality bites in such out-of-the-world calamity and left fans crazy about the background of Clovie and what happened after the tape.
Seemingly there is a 4 part manga serialization on Shounen Ace in Japan, which is a splendid way to entice the Japan market, which is a prequel to the event, giving us an insight of how the monster came about.
Director Matt Reeves also suggested a sequel...more nauseating adventure in store?

Japanese word of the day: 吐き気~ha-ki-ke~(Nauseous) Perhaps my days in the Navy help me with the motion sickness but I still can't read on the bus for sure

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home