Category Archives: cloverfield

Monsters

Monsters ~ When I saw this line of hype in the description of this flick OnDemand, I was intrigued. It read, “Best giant monster movie I’ve seen in years.” I was sold. It’s written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who has been chosen to helm the new American Godzilla movie – so I definitely had to see it.

The story – six years ago a space probe sent to search for alien life crash lands over Mexico. It brought ‘creatures’ and the area was walled off as the “Infected Zone.” Expecting District 9 meets Cloverfield meets Toho’s Monster Island, I happily order it, no matter how high the price.

A magazine photographer is sent to collect the boss’ daughter from Mexico in the Infected Zone. After losing their passports, they have to walk. Yeah, what’s that writing rule about what’s the worst that can happen? Yeah, that’s what happens. They walk home through the Infected Zone.

The two main characters are thankfully not typical horror movie stereotypes, but we get to know them as well as we would such characters – very peripherally. They are still placeholders in the storytelling process, but just different ones. The male lead reminds a lot of a young Adam Baldwin, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of the dialogue is painful, especially most of it falls into the “What are you doing?” and “Where are all the people?” territory.

The cardboardness and predictability of the two leads is what makes the ending so unfulfilling when it comes. I wanted a monster movie with a human story as a backdrop like most traditional kaiju eiga and got was a bad human story with monsters as the backdrop. At least the monsters got one pretty intense love scene. And no, I’m not kidding.

The monsters are rarely seen clearly early on, just in fuzzy pictures and staticky news footage, and later we hear them, but when they do finally show up… hello, pretty scary. They are sorta giant squid meets preying mantis meets Martian war machine with just a bit of Cthulhu thrown into the mix for good measure. The wreckage and destroyed buildings are stunning, as they are not CGI in the traditional sense, but greenscreened in – they are real destroyed buildings from earthquakes, fires, etc., so it looks, and is, very real.

There is not as much commentary on the current US/Mexico immigration problem as one might think from the summary of this flick, but it’s in there. There’s not much, but then again, no one ever says the word ‘apartheid’ in District 9 either and that’s like a brick to the head.

This was a fairly entertaining movie though, for what it is, a little long and I would have loved more monster stuff – but all in all, Monsters did not live up to the hype. Regarding Gareth Edwards’ future with the American Godzilla franchise, I really am at a loss as to what to think. It may well be visually stunning, but I worry about the story… and the love scenes…

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Super 8

Super 8 ~ I never cared much for “Lost,” and Cloverfield could have been so much more than it was, so I was understandably nonplussed when I first heard of Super 8. But, I loved J.J. Abrams’ version of Star Trek, and even thought it was one of the best flicks of the year it came out. The idea of a movie written and directed by Abrams yet produced by Steven Spielberg intrigued me however, especially when preliminary trailers made it look like some sort of mish-mosh of E.T., Close Encounters, and Cloverfield.

If it needs to be compared to any movie however, it’s more in line with Stand By Me, or even closer to the more obscure, yet so entertaining Matinee. Super 8 is in many ways a walk down memory lane, and not just in the way it’s a period piece set in the early 1980s or late 1970s, although that illusion is ruined with pinpoint accuracy by a Walter Cronkite TV broadcast about Three Mile Island. After that, any pop culture reference post TMI pulled me out of the flick.

Super 8 is also a time capsule in that takes us back to our early teens and that period between playing with our buds and thinking about girls. It’s a bittersweet teen romance mixed with a family drama – and oh yeah, there’s a monster too. But the drama is very good, so much so that at one point, my eyes welled up. The monster sadly, when we finally see it, is of the Cloverfield type, and also of the variety that showed up for a cameo in Star Trek. It makes me wonder if J.J. Abrams can only do ugly, rarely seen monsters with weirdly opening jaws.

The flick is so much better however than I ever would have guessed going in. There was expectation, and Super 8 far exceeded it. Recommended.

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Baltimore Comic Con 2009 – Day Two

Bacon!

Any day that starts with people bringing bacon right to my door is a good day. With that in mind, my associate Ray Cornwall brought up a point in my report on the con yesterday that I was a bit slight on the positives of the Baltimore Comic Con. There are lots, beginning with the fact that the very cool hotel, the Tremont Plaza Hotel, was chosen by the Con. Indirectly, the bacon comes from them.

Other than the sound problems and the partitioned rooms, everything about the BCC is very well put together and nearly flawless. It’s like a smaller, more friendly New York Comic Con, and that’s a compliment. I really appreciate the focus on comics over pop culture, unlike other cons of recent years. Well organized, amazing guests, they even hosted the Harvey Awards – really, what can I say bad about them? I look forward to coming back again and again.

Ring Bearer

The day continued to start bright even before we entered the con. Just outside we saw Berni Wrightson and Steve Niles on a smoke break, marvelling at a great “Groverfield” t-shirt. From there we were just steps away from one of the best costumes of the con, the new Mr. Terrific, and he was accompanied by two members of the Junior Justice Society. The good day had only just begun.

One of my friends back home had asked me to pick up prop rings from DC Comics’ Blackest Night. I didn’t think the various colored rings would be available yet but the DC booth was on the agenda either way. I was right about the rings but DC was giving out the Black Lantern ring (thanks!) and Steven Schreck kindly played ring-model for all the prop rings to come. Apparently a full set will be available shortly from your local comics shop. While I have a certain distaste for events and crossovers, I am enjoying Blackest Night, and the little promotional props, like these rings, make the experience that much cooler.

Community

I mentioned earlier how Baltimore’s con was much friendlier than others I’ve attended. It’s true. While there was a lack of news due to the retailers meeting tomorrow – the big guns saving the announcements for Diamond as opposed to the folks who actually buy their products – there was a very cool sense of community here at Baltimore.

Yesterday I met some folks I hadn’t seen in some time, said hello to new and old friends and met some folks I had only previously known online. But I also made new friends, just striking conversations up with strangers just because we obviously shared a common hobby. This is how the first conventions I attended back in the 70s and 80s were, back in the dark ages before the internet, before we were global and ‘knew’ everybody on a social network.

For instance I chatted casually with a gentleman and his son who had come up from the south. He was taking a rest as I was taking notes. Our conversation went on and off as we each did our thing. We compared hotels, cons and I told him where to find Coca-Cola. The best part of the chat was the bit I wasn’t a part of. The man and his son were of two distinct nerd (and I mean nerd in a good way) generations. Dad would reference the Fantastic Four and the son would parry with Halo. In a geeky way it warmed my heart.

Later when my friend Ray joined me we started talking with a gentleman named Jonathan with whom we chatted for nearly two hours. The passion of which I spoke yesterday burned bright as our conversation jumped from Alter-Ego to Blackest Night from Dark Reign to the identity of the Red Hulk. It never descended into Trekkie or “Big Bang Theory” levels of fanboy-ishness but stayed a positive exciting exchange between people who love their hobby. Now that is what these cons should be about. Community.

Thanks to the Baltimore Comic Con for their cooperation and accommodation. This has been one of the more fun and fulfilling shows I’ve attended. Thanks for the opportunity. I look forward to the chance to come back.

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[REC]

[REC] ~ Take Cloverfield and mix liberally with the original Night of the Living Dead and some good old fashioned reality TV formatting and you’ll have a good idea of what [REC] is all about.

A go-getting spunky reality hostess and her cameraman cover the night shift of a firehouse when a rescue call goes horribly wrong – and they find themselves quarantined in an apartment building with a zombie problem.

It’s worth noting that an American remake of [REC], called Quarantine only did so-so at the box office – however, the original has spawned a sequel due in Spain this October, and probably shortly thereafter for US DVD.

Fans of the genre will find this predictable but that doesn’t tame or invalidate any of the legitimate and terrifying scares in this Spanish horror flick. The night vision ending of this one had me sleeping with the lights on afterward.

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Godzilla Meets Blair Witch


It’s 1-18-08, and Cloverfield is finally here, and my initial impression is ‘Godzilla meets Blair Witch,’ and that’s a good thing. The flick combines the best elements of each concept.

The beauty of this film was really before it even opened. The ability to keep a secret -the image of the monster, as well as the plot- such big secrets in this internet age, especially when much of the hype was generated via the internet (mostly through an ARG), is a frigging miracle.

First off, dispelling rumors that have at this point been long dispelled, at least by folks who are online. It’s not Godzilla. Like I’ve been telling everyone who’s asked, their resident G-fan, it’s not Godzilla. It’s just not. Toho has the meanest and most litigious lawyers on the planet and there’s no way they’re letting Americans near their baby any time soon.

It’s also not Cthulhu, even though most of the Lovecraftian mythos is in the public domain, and as much as I’d like to see some of those wonderful dark creatures onscreen using some CGI – it’s just not. Although, based on the hype, maybe J.J. Abrams could be convinced to do so in the future.

And thank god it’s not Godzilla, because then I can let my radar down, and not worry about what has been changed or trashed regarding one of my favorite properties. Even though it’s not Godzilla, I’m still a hardcore kaiju eiga fan so I had to see this. Been waiting on this bad boy for months, and I was not disappointed.

The film revolves around a giant monster attack on New York City and rather than take the traditional path, the tale is told using a portable hand-held camcorder in the midst of the destruction. This gives a traumatic and horrific, up close and personal edge to the events. And of course will probably be responsible for multiple cases of motion sickness in theatres on a worldwide scale, but no worries, I predict folks will be so engaged by the flick they won’t notice.

The characters are pretty simple cookie cutter fare and a subtle but simple love story lies beneath the action as Rob has to rescue Beth from monster central. Over and above that I have to pick T.J. Miller as Hud, the voice behind the camera for most of the movie, and his unrequited crush Marlena, played by Lizzy Caplan as the clear breakout stars here. The real humor, beauty and pizazz of the flick lie with them, and the monster of course.

I loved this movie, and was so glad that a film with such hype actually turned out to be worth it. Get to the theatre early for the Star Trek teaser (also by Abrams) and stay ’til the end credits to hear the luscious Akira Ifukube-inspired score by Michael Giacchino.

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The Mystery of Cloverfield

Yep, more YouTube goodness. Anyone who checked out the Transformers movie earlier this summer got to see an interesting trailer/teaser that has come to be called “Cloverfield.”

The flick, alternately called “Cloverfield” and “1-18-08,” is the brain child of J.J. Abrams. Name sound familiar? It should. Abrams is the force behind the “Lost” TV series and he will soon be helping Paramount relaunch their “Star Trek” franchise. The writer of this project is an Abrams buddy from “Lost” and the directer was seasoned on “Felicity.” I’m really not sure what that says.

“Cloverfield” appears to be about a giant monster attack on New York City, but done with a new twist. That twist would be the use of portable cameras and pone to record the action, and yes, I see the ghost of The Blair Witch Project hiding over there by the stairs too.

As a huge Godzilla fan, I should nip some major speculation in the bud right now. It’s not Godzilla. The rights to that character are held by Toho and Sony, neither of whom have anything to do with this project. Other speculation does sound intriguing however, as I’ve also heard talk of the ‘monster’ being H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, which, unlike Godzilla, is in the public domain. Done right, that would rock.

There is also the very real possibility we wouldn’t see (or get a name for) the ‘monster’ at all. “Cloverfield” could be a human story about people coping with disaster, but of course, that would be anywhere near as much fun as a giant monster.

Well, there it is, only time will tell now. It’s set for a January 2008 release. Wait and see.