Friday, April 18, 2008

So today, I finally watched Cloverfield.

Tim said it wasn't as bad as he was expecting. I found it irritating. And a little nauseating. I can't be sure that it was Cloverfield's jerk-and-swish shooting that made me ill. It might've been the packet of Little Caesar's garlic butter sauce that really probably ought to have an expiration date printed on it. It's two hours later, and I still feel a little ill.

The reason I found the movie irritating is, it took too long to get started. Maybe the long introduction at the party was intended to make me care about these people, but it really didn't. It was too all over the place. Once the action got started, I found myself comparing the film to live news coverage on 9/11. Some people might say, well that was real, so of course it was more compelling, but the thing is, I can suspend my disbelief quite easily.

Here's an example. The theatre where I work had a haunted house last year. One of the actors was setting up a scene and passing out some trinkets to our group and explaining that we'd have to use the trinkets at specific times in order to save ourselves. I found it all kind of spooky and scary, and I know my jaw was dropping, and my husband asked later if I was putting on for our little group, and I said no, I was just getting into it. Sure, I knew that our guides were Barbara and Rodney, people I've worked with in the theatre before (I've known Rodney for 20 years), but there's no point in going into a haunted house attraction and then standing back and saying, "Oh that's Rodney. He was really good in Brighton Beach Memoirs back in the '80s." You have to suspend your disbelief and get into it to have fun.

So, I was ready and able to believe that some sort of giant creature was attacking New York, and I didn't even have to see good shots of the creature to enjoy the film.

Back to 9/11 -- we didn't know exactly what was going on or what was going to happen next. The TV crews would stop someone and get a brief description of what that person had experienced, and then they'd move on. It wasn't just screaming turmoil like in Cloverfield. The extended shots of them just running along and nothing happening wasn't suspenseful, it was just dull. When something did start to happen, it was more irritating, because the camera's going all over the place. The one time when we might have found out a little bit about what was going on, in the electronics store (when Hud points the camera at the TV), he can't stay focused on that for a minute and a half. He's got to switch between two TVs and the crowd and outside and inside.

The basic story was fine. The acting was good. I just wish they'd found a better way to present it.

And now, for a list of movies featuring my favorite giant creature.

  1. Jurassic Park - Still sets the standard for CGI
  2. King Kong, 1933 - A classic
  3. Gojira, 1954 - The original Japanese version is longer and slower-paced but an excellent cautionary tale
  4. Them - Fairly well done story of giant ants terrorizing southern California
  5. King Kong, 2005 - Peter Jackson's nicely done remake. It's a little longer than it needed to be, but for the most part, beautifully executed.
  6. Ghostbusters - "It's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man."

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