Posted on 1/26/08 01:20 AM
When a project as excessively hyped as Cloverfield appears on my radar, I approach it with enthusiasm, but a nagging voice always appears in the back of my mind that this movie may not be all it claims to be, and it may end up just like Spiderman 3 (a competent but ultimately dissapointing film) or I Am Legend (a movie that wouldn't be so bad if it hadn't completely missed the point of Richard Matheson's excellent novel).
Twenty minutes into the movie, and those voices shut up.
Cloverfield is a masterpiece. However, it is a very different sort of masterpiece than one usually comes to associate with the term. It tears down the rules of how to make a film, and builds its own. Some people may not be comfortable with...
#1: the wobbly camera,
#2: the lack of explanation for the monster, or
#3: the seeming banality of the acting.
These elements, in my opinion, actually add to the experience because...
#1: The unstable camera increases the sense of chaos, the feeling that a steady world is falling apart before our very eyes. Also, If you were there, trying to record the entire city of Manhattan crumbling under the siege of a giant monster, would you be able to keep the camera steady?
#2: The lack of explanation for the monster is also realistic, because if you were among the throngs of panicked New Yorkers, seeking a way out of the city (or, in the case of our protagonists, a trapped loved one) you probably wouldn't come across a scientist saying "Okay, people! This is what happened!" Furthermore, leaving such a question open to the viewer will keep people talking about the movie long after it has left theaters, much like the unknown contents of the suitcase in Pulp Fiction.
#3: The acting reinforces the notion that these are regular people, of the sort you might meet at a prom or college campus. You can't come in expecting the sonnets of Shakespeare from those people.
I feel that if Cloverfield was shot in a traditional (third-person) perspective, it would have diminished the film considerably because it would set up a barrier between the viewer and the events occurring onscreen. The viewer would be secure in his/her knowledge that he/she was stitting in a perfectly secure movie theater where the worst thing that could happen to you would be to step in something sticky. By shooting the film from a ground-level, first-person perspective, that barrier crumbles, and as death comes steamrolling down Times Square, every "Holy crap!!!" shouted by the characters becomes our own.
The only reason I am giving this movie a 9 instead of a 10 is because, as I said before, Cloverfield is not for everyone. Not every filmgoer (or said filmgoer's stomach) will be confortable with the unconventional direction Cloverfield takes in the making a movie. If you fall in that category, that's okay. There'll be plenty of other good movies coming out this year for you to watch. As for me, I give major Kudos to J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves for making the film Godzilla (1998) fervently wants to be.
Posted on 7/07/07 12:01 PM
Transformers is probably the ultimate "love it or hate it" movie of the year, and I just saw it this morning. Before I saw it I was riding the fence on how good it would be. It had a 70%Cream of the Crop, meaning the guys from the magazines and newspapers liked it, but it got a 57% tomatometer, meaning opinion on the internet was a little mixed. Now, here's the basics.
The people who hate this movie are divided into four categories:
#1: Those who hate the movie because it's directed by Michael Bay,
#2: Those who hate the movie because it does not meet the exact specifications of the cartoon (i.e. Bumblebee being a Camaro instead of a VW Beetle)
#3: those who don't like noisy action movies, or
#4: Those who had already decided to hate it before they saw it and just paid to see it so they could bitch about it on their blogs.
As for me, I liked this movie. I knew it wasn't going to be a classic (it is being directed by Bay, after all). It was meant to be a fun, popcorn flick, and it delivered. I'm not going to give a plot summary (a billion other critics probably did it for you). Since this is my first review I'll outline the good and bad points of this movie.
The Good: The action sequences are well-executed (if a little shaky). The robots look neat, and Bay, in a stroke of rare genius, actually got Peter Cullen to voice Optimus Prime! Hearing Cullen's powerful, stern voice calling, "Autobots, transform and roll out!" is sure to give goosebumps to hardcore Transformers fans. Shia Lebeouf, as Sam Witwicky, could have been reduced to "the kid who stands by the sidelines and watches the robots fight". Instead, he's actually given an active role in the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Yet another good point is... Bumblebee, disguised as Sam's beat-up Camaro. He steals practically every scene he's in, and in yet another stroke of genius, Bumblebee's voice transmitter is broken, so he can't talk. Instead, he communicates using actions, and does so with nice comedic timing. Now for...
The Bad: Like I said, this is a Michael Bay film. I wasn't expecting anything Oscar-worthy, but is emotion and coherent dialogue really that hard to accomplish? Also, the Decepticons, as characters, are not as fleshed out as the Autobots. This is understandable (given they have only so many minutes on screen), but I'm wondering how we're supposed to fear these guys if we barely know who they are! Megatron is the "Venom" of Transformers, a popular character whose screentime is reduced to the last half-hour. Oh, well. RT news said this was going to be a trilogy, so maybe Megatron's character will be given a chance to develop then.
All in all, it was an enjoyable flick, definitely worth the $4 I paid for it. It certainly isn't a classic, but it's fun.