Tonight I ended up down at the Paramount theatre in Vancouver for a premiere of Cloverfield. For those of you who keep up with such things, Cloverfield has been somewhat of a mystery, relying mainly on word of mouth and a few minutes of raw footage released as a trailer for promotional means.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Going into the movie, I basically expected something similar to the Blair Witch Project, and for the most part, that’s exactly what I got. Granted there are a few more effects in this movie, and it is set in the heart of Manhattan, but for the most part it’s just the regurgitation of the formula used for the BWP.
In fact, Cloverfield to me really was a rip off of a lot of different movies. First, you have the Bourne Supremacy’s shaky cam that was used throughout the entire film, even in sequences where the dude with the camera isn’t moving. I understand that there’s a big alien guy chasing everyone alot of the time, but seriously, the camera is shaking and zooming pretty much non-step. Peter Jackson did something similar in the Moria sequence, mainly to add a bit of realism and to fudge the special effects slightly, but there it worked in his favour. In this film, it’s fairly hard to focus on anything at any moment, and I found it super annoying after a while.
There are obviously elements from “Alien” here too, at least in the way the monsters or aliens attack people and impregnate them (or whatever it is they do). Once bitten, you’re pretty much a goner, as evidenced by that strange girl that basically exploded blood at one point. There are a few nods towards “Signs” as well with some of the alien reveals, and up until the end of the movie you’re still not entirely sure what it is you’re dealing with. In fact, even though you know what the thing looks like at the end, you’re still not sure what it is.
I’m sort of a movie snob — I kind of like it when stories are well written and things sort of make sense. I can suspend disbelief when required, but when there are obvious holes in a story or plot, I get a bit irritated. For me, the Alien would have been a lot better had it been shown that it had a purpose. In Independence Day the aliens wanted nothing more than to annihilate pretty much everyone, and knowing that made it all the more important that they were stopped. This alien has a capacity for knocking down famous structures, bashing the statue of liberty, pushing over buildings, taking a stroll in central park, and ever eating random camera people on the street. Why? Not really sure.
While I’m at it, let’s talk about the camera itself. The fact that buddy is handed the camera is a bar and asked to shoot random shots of people all night leads me to believe it’s just a normal run-of-the-mill camcorder. However, clearly I’m wrong, since this camcorder not only has a huge floodlight attached to it, but it also has a night vision mode that let’s you see aliens! Come on guys.
I also don’t get why they felt the need to use a shitty love story as the means to propagate the story forward. Let’s just be at a party with friends and have the monster attack. Buddy doesn’t need to have a girl he slept with, what was it, ONCE, on the other side of town that needs serious saving. The chick left with some other guy at the party — let that guy save her.
While there were a few scenes that kind of caught my eye, for the most part I found the movie fairly boring. I appreciate some of the thought that went into the realism that might surround an event like this (people whipping out cameras and camera phones during events, make-shift barracks in the subway to try and fight the monster), but I still had a problem with the acting and a few other elements.
The one major beef I had with Blair Witch was that even when most of the people were dead, that chick was still being super annoying, and buddy wouldn’t put the camera down. I’m a pretty big camera dork, but I’ll be honest, if I’m hanging out with you guys and you all get eaten by monsters or explode in huge pools of blood, I’m probably gonna put the camera down and bolt the fuck out of there. Want me to go confront the monster? I’ll meet you there, I’m just gonna take a quick piss. What’s that, the super hot chick I slept with once is trapped in the leaning building with a big piece of rebar hanging out of her? Sorry guys, gotta jet. Do me a favour and hold this camera for me.
END MAJOR SPOILERS
I had a great time hanging out with the group, but I thought the movie was fairly weak, and clearly an obvious rip-off (both in terms of marketing and content) of the Blair Witch Project. After the show I hit a few people up and asked them what they thought. A few people said it was ok (coincidentally these people hadn’t seen the Blair Witch Project), but most of the people I asked thought it was pretty lame.
I was just over at Aint It Cool News seeing what Harry thought of it (since it was pretty much guaranteed that he saw it already), and apparently he thinks it’s absolutely amazing and redefines the entire genre. Sorry man, but I couldn’t disagree with you more. “Signs” was a far better movie that played with some of the same concepts but didn’t resort to the shaky cam approach or any blatant movie rip-offs.
Thanks again to Rebecca, John and John for bringing me along. Great times. Let’s do it again. Like tomorrow.