Monday, February 04, 2008

Cloverfiend

Don't read this and then bitch to me about spoilers.

This weekend I went to see Cloverfield at the big cinema in town. I was pretty pumped up about finding out what Cloverfield was after the viral marketing campaign and teaser trailers. I was a little disappointed that Cloverfield didn't turn out to be quite as iconic a monster as the likes of Godzilla or Mecha-Bingo but it was still a gripping and well-made film. Essentially what they did was turn the monster movie concept on its head - rather than focussing on the scientists, politicians and soldiers who normally are tasked with eliminating the beast it concentrates on the monster-bait civilians whose lot it usually is to be stomped, chomped or incinerated with atom breath. This means that the sudden appearance of a Cloverfield in the middle of New York goes more or less unexplained. Plot elements such as the inevitable nuking of Manhattan by the desperate military (of course anything called "Operation Hammer Down" is going to be a nuclear strike. If anyone told me they were going to initiate "Operation Hammer Down" I'd get the fuck hence) are told through either peripheral characters or through the news coverage of the events that the characters occasionally stop to gawk at.

Contrary to what a lot of reviewers have said, I actually liked the characterisation and thought it worked pretty well. Dedicating the first half hour of a film about a giant monster levelling a large metropolitan centre to watching a bunch twenty-somethings knobbing around at a party was a risky move on behalf of 'Ol JJ and his directer Matt Reeves but it honestly paid off, because throughout the film you do actually find yourself caring about certain characters. Granted, you hate them to a certain extent for not doing the smart thing and bugging out when they get several opportunities to do so, but you do genuinely hope they make it out OK and there are a couple of extremely shocking moments when characters that have been prominent throughout the first portion of the film get unexpectedly ground into a fine paste by the monster's blood-lust.

Another complaint a lot of people seem to have with the film is the 9/11 parallels are too obvious and that seven years is frankly too soon for a film about 9/11. They accuse the film of simply glorying in the destruction of New York and not actually saying anything. I can sort of see the point of these critics, but it's worth remembering that Gojira (Godzilla to you), which was a thinly-veiled allegory of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings was released in 1954, only nine years after. Besides, the horror and carnage created by both these cinematic brutes was sort of the point, wasn't it? Gojira was a safe way to pass commentary on the pain Japan still felt about the war without irking it's new "ally" the US. Surely New Yorkers deserve the same catharsis? Transferring all the anxieties of this terrible age into something tangible, rather than just a couple of pointless wars against an inscrutable enemy that doesn't deliver the sense of triumph that it should.

Here's a good point though: How many times has New York been destroyed in movies? Fucking loads! Don't ever go there!

Anyway, I digress. I suggested to Kaki (read 'forced her') that we draw how we thought Cloverfield might manifest itself. So here, without further ado are our artists impressions of Cloverfield:
Well, here is my interpretation of Cloverfield. Predictably, I went for a giant hamster design, of the kind I have been drawing for years. The monsterous hamster stomps through New York and swats a jet plane out of the sky. Observe the plane dropping an H-bomb on the rodent scourge. Like all hamsters, it has giant, square bollocks.

Not quite sure what this is. It seems to be a sort of facially-malformed cat/rat monster with a lizard tail. Note also atom breath. I also like the embryonic Death-Chicken design that has been scribbled out.

So who is closer? I won't tell you because it will spoil the surprise of seeing for yourself.

2 comments:

Jeremy said...

David I am disappointed. Normally I find your taste in movies second to none, especially when it comes to Kung foo flicks. However on this occasion you have got it dead wrong. Cloverfield was the biggest waste of time and money that the film industry has produced since whoever sanctioned HULK. (It's sequel starring Edward Norton promises to be better, not holding my breath though) Anywho the only saving grace to said monster flick was the fact that I went half cut, and as a result got a well deserved break from the Blair Witch Project wannabe camerawork that was Cloverfield, when I went to the can. By the way the producers should have made the movie into an advert for the camera with the never ending battery charge - I can only assume was taken from a terminator. Speaking of which T4 is coming.... Why?

Jeremy said...

P.s. I did not intentionally mean to infer that Cloverfield was a kung foo flick. That was just an example of your usual exquisite taste.