Well played, J.J. Abrams. I remember sitting in the theater, waiting for Transformers to start, only to be treated to what seemed like footage of some random party. It was meant to be deliberately shaky, causing me to wonder why I’d want to watch such a painfully dull film about some guy going away to Japan in an even more obnoxious style.
Then things start exploding. The Chrysler building blows up, the head of the Statue of Liberty rolls through the street, somebody yells “it’s huge!,” and I, dick in hand, anxiously await any more information this teaser’s willing to give me. Of course, as anyone else who saw that teaser can attest to, there was none. 1-18-08 flashes across the screen. It’s currently 7-something-07. Testicles quickly becoming an irritated shade of navy, it’s clear that, no matter what, I had to see this fucking movie. Even after getting out of Transformers, I think I spent more time talking about that goddamned teaser than those stupid giant robots and Shia LeBeouf.
Later in the fall, I set a date to get my wisdom teeth out on January 17th. “Fuck my teeth!” I boldly proclaim. “I’m going to that fucking movie if it kills me!”
So I did. Doped up on codeine, my dad drove me to the theater to see Cloverfield. And it was glorious. Seriously, I don’t think I could have loved this fucking movie more. My favorite pseudo-genre of film is the oft-neglected shark attack genre, primarily because it features helpless humans facing off against a mercliess, bloodthirsty adversary in an arena in which it has a significant upper hand.
I heard a lot of people complain about the shaky camera, which does admittedly take some getting used to, but once the plot starts to kick in it helps to make the audience feel as helpless as the characters. At no point is anyone in control of the situation but the monster itself, which, in a fashion typical of Jaws, is almost never fully revealed to the audience. Yeah, you’ll get a feel for what it looks like and just how big it is, but after five months of viral marketing, Abrams isn’t about to blow that load all at once.
I loved Cloverfield for its fresh take on the whole giant monster thing. While films like The Blair Witch Project and The Last Broadcast have already done the handheld camera thing, Cloverfield took it to the next step to convey the ruin of an entire city. It’s a perfect representation of the digital age in which we live; were such an incident to happen, you can bet that the best footage newscasters would be showing would probably come from a cell phone or handheld camcorder.
Hey, some spoilers below.
The ending is left deliberately vague as well, leaving limitless sequel opportunities by conveying either the aftermath of the attack that (assumedly) kills the main character and the creatre, the state of New York when all’s said and done, what exactly was up with that girl exploding in the quarantine place, or just tell the same story from an entirely different set of characters. I don’t even care, just give me more of that fucking monster.