Cloverfield

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By Mark Ramsey | 2008/01/21

I don’t know about you, but when I’m about to be stomped by a monster, shooting his video headshot is not high on my to-do list.

How self-absorbed must you be to shoot your own personal reality show in the midst of a tragedy of giant lizard-like proportions?

“I hate it when the rich kids have to evacuate Manhattan!” said Lilly. “Especially when it’s in heels and without a doorman.”

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“No worries, Lilly,” said Jen. “New York’s underclass will lay down end-to-end and form a bridge to safety.”

“People are gonna wanna know how it all went down,” said “Hud,” the self-appointed documentarian in our cluster of anonymous Manhattan luxury high rise evacuees.

“Maybe we post this video on YouTube,” he added, “and then, when we monetize it, we can allocate a fair share to the Writers’ Guild, assuming the Guild headquarters is not in the path of any giant monsters, and assuming the Guild and producers are able to come to terms.”

“That’s right,” said Rob, “Hud’s” friend. “Without writers virtually every movie will likely feature unknown actors running away from a stampeding CGI monster speaking only in grunts, moans, and shrieks.”

Cloverfield is what you get when you cross Godzilla with MTV’s The Hills.

It’s Hillzilla.

Filmed by your kid with a video camera.

Where do I line up for that?

Many folks left this theater because the jumpy handheld images left them queasy. And usually Hollywood saves “queasy” for romantic comedies starring Kate Hudson.

Hillzilla opens with anonymous twenty-somethings engaged in romantic complications….Will Lauren go to Paris? Er, I mean, will Rob go to Japan?

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You can’t see the monster for most of Cloverfield, and that’s a good thing. Because it’s disconcerting to know that somewhere in the universe a T Rex has mated with a frog.

If that’s not justification for a surly attitude, I don’t know what is.

After way too much time setting up some complicated emotional calculus that is as fascinating as watching really pretty paint dry, the monster finally strikes Manhattan.

What is it that monsters have against New York City?

I mean, there’s no legroom!

Why not attack a Kansas plain – you can at least stretch out!

“Why is that monster stampeding around Manhattan?” asked Beth.

“Because he can’t get orchestra seats for Young Frankenstein,” said Rob.

Look out! The head of the Statue of Liberty has just been used as a projectile!

“Speaking of projectile, I need to binge and purge,” said Beth. “Wait for us!” shouted half of the Upper West Side.

Will Rob save Beth before the monster gets them? And if not, can she at least die on camera?

Headache and heartache amid devastation – and I’m talking about me in the audience.

The original style of this movie has much in its favor, as long as it doesn’t spark a shaky handheld cam trend. And the absence of the monster from most of the movie is a smart move.

Cloverfield is above average for its genre, but by its end we’re left with annoying kids we don’t care about and a fairly routine monster movie.

Maybe Lauren should have gone to Paris.

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