Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cloverfield

Let me begin by saying that Cloverfield hurt my feelings. And I don't mean like it offended me in some way, I mean like Cloverfield and I used to be really good friends, maybe even more than friends, maybe I even loved Cloverfield at one point. We would spend hours on the internet together, holding hands and discussing the possibilities of what its giant, New York-eating monster would be, leaving butterfly kisses on each other's cheeks. But then it went and pulled a Crying Game on me and when I saw it in the theater I discovered that Cloverfield had a penis. A big honkin' penis named failure.

The idea behind Cloverfield was, in a word, brilliant. The idea behind Cloverfield in seven words would be "brilliant, but really hard to pull off." Take a home video camera and record a monster destroying New York. Finally, a movie that combines my love of voyeurism with my love of monsters! The problem is, I'm almost positive that they added in that "home video" concept after the script was written.

This movie really has very little to do with the video camera. That's not to say that the entire thing isn't shot using the home camera, but it's just not shot in a way that makes you believe that a real person is holding the video camera.

An example of when they do it right: The movie begins with the going-away party of some guy named Rob, and the video camera is used to tape the party and the testimonials of people at the party ("Oh, some guy named Rob, we'll miss you!" and so on and so forth). In the midst of the party, Rob experiences drama with a girl, and while he's fighting with said girl, the guy with the camera (Hud) tries to record it, because he is an insensitive dick, I guess. Anyway, when he tries to sneak a shot of the two of them fighting, they yell at him. "What's wrong with you?" they said, as Kevin paraphrased their poorly-written dialogue. "Why are you video-taping this?"

Another great thing they did with the camera was the fact that it was recording over another tape, so that whenever the camera got shut off, it would "flashback" to those scenes. Again, towards the beginning, Hud captures half a second of the monster in some footage and he gathers everyone around to show it to them on the camera and then the flashback scene occurs when he shuts off record, which I loved.

That is a completely believable use of a video camera, and I believed there was a guy filming his best friend fight with a girl, and they were all up in his face about it. This is how a movie told from the vantage point of a video camera should be told -- leaving parts out, acknowledging the camera's presence and establishing when it is and is not appropriate to use it, using the camera to show things when it's necessary, and using the camera to create a backstory. The rest of the movie isn't told this way though.

The camera changes hands twice in the first ten or so minutes of the movie, and after that falls into the possession of Hud for the remainder. Hud is eventually reduced to having virtually no part in the plot whatsoever besides being the guy holding the camera and telling the occasional joke. To me, the point of the video camera was to show what happened through the character's eyes, if not many characters with many eyes. Hud just kinda follows and does whatever Rob does, so he's not really a character anymore so much as a cameraman that sometimes speaks.

If you're going to have a first-person cameraman in the movie, you have to have things that the character doesn't see. Hud doesn't really miss anything and I wished to god that he would have. There are a couple emotional scenes (like the fight in the beginning) where you imagine the characters would at the very least say, "Hey, let's give them a minute alone" or "Get the eff out of here, Hud." He even films the TV a few times. I understand that it's hard to tell the full story using just a home camera, but nobody films a news report, for any reason. If it were real, they would put the camera down, watch the report, then pick it back up again, and everyone would go, "Well that sure was an informative piece of journalism."

Besides that, the movie really fails at being suspenseful or tense. There are waaaaaay too many times that the giant monster manages to sneak within fifty feet of the main characters before they realize he's there. How did you people manage to avoid getting hit by a car if you can't notice the fifty foot monster down the street!? How are you still living!?

So, to summarize the huge glaring disappointment that is Cloverfield, it was an action-packed, visually intense sci-fi movie that suffered from minor, but manageable problems such as less-than-stellar dialogue, but eventually was ruined when some higher-up decided to throw in a home video camera into the script at the last minute, for which the writers were clearly unprepared to deal with. Oh, and it sucked.

I know all there is to know about the crying game
Ive had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You're sayin goodbye

One day soon I'm gonna tell the moon about the crying game
And if he knows maybe hell explain

Why there are heartaches, why there are tears
And what to do to stop feeling blue
When love disappears

I know all there is to know about the crying game
Ive had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You're sayin goodbye

Don't want no more of the crying game
Don't want no more of the crying game
Don't want no more of the crying game
Don't want no more of the crying game
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