Jan 19, 2008

Why Cloverfield Stinks

Man, it's been a while...heh. I'm currently on the market for a scanner, so as soon as I get one I'll start showing you all what I've been up to art-wise, but until then I suppose I can do a bit of writing to get the ball rolling.

I just returned with some peeps from the movie Cloverfield, and while the group's verdict for the film was unanimously positive, I'm afraid that I have to disagree with much of their praise. Now don't get me wrong or anything, I am one who enjoys a good action/adventure/monster flick as much as the next guy, but as hard as I tried I simply couldn't get into the film. Here's why:

First off, this is by far the shakiest camera work I have ever seen in a blockbuster movie, and while I think the technique itself can be used to great effect to intensify a scene (ala 'Children of Men' or 'Gears of War') in Cloverfield it is simply overdone. Now some may argue that the first person perspective helps immerse the audience, making it feel as if they are right there in the action, but I must disagree. When I'm walking around during the day doing the things I do, never does my vision start behaving so erratically that light begins to trail and everything falls out of focus. Heck even during more intense situations like bursting off into a sprint I still keep a fairly clear check of the world around me. So why is it then that even in relatively calm situations such as the opening party scene is the camera work so jittery? Here I was trying to figure out what the characters were all about but instead I felt like I was strapped onto the front of a roller coaster. It was incredibly distracting. Eventually at about the half hour point my eyes adjusted and I finally began to accept what I was seeing, but it wasn't without much effort on my part. A message to the filmmakers: save the crazy blurred pans for when the shit starts blowing up, but in the meantime just give my stomach a break and let me find out if Rob still has feelings for Beth. Is that too much to ask?

Another problem I had with the film was the plot, or lack thereof. Here's a brief rundown; guy has fight with girl, monster attacks, people die, guy goes to save girl, people die, guy saves girl, people die, monster attacks again, everyone dies, the end. Now of course there's more to it than that, but overall I'm left wondering what's the point to it all? We've seen these sorts of things in countless films before (Godzilla, Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds, and King Kong to name a few), but unlike those films Cloverfield does very little to break new ground. The film suffers from following too many cliches (hmm, a dark room, I wonder what will happen when I turn on this ligh..OH NO, A MONSTER!!), the characters themselves are pretty standard fare (hero, funny guy, love interest, nothing new), and the ending is way too abrupt, leaving the audience wanting more (not in the sense that they want more of what they have already seen, but instead because the film is empty).

I must confess that I did find the marketing for this film really intriguing, how they kept things like the monster's identity very ambiguous and simultaneously left the possibilities for the overall plot wide open, but after watching the film ultimately it turns out to be yet another monster film, offering hardly anything new to the genre, and pushing a camera effect far beyond its worth.


Eric "Spillz" Angelillo said...

HA! i knew it, you were way too quiet afterwards.

roz said...

well...personally i loved the "queasy cam" thing. it made it so much more intense