JANUARY 18, 2008
How’s this for weird: the main reason I watched Dragon Wars yesterday was because I knew that I would be seeing Cloverfield today, and thus I wanted to see both of the major US cities get destroyed (LA in Dragon, NY in Cloverfield) back to back. But 45 minutes or so into Cloverfield, I discovered another connection: character actor Chris Mulkey (who played the jerk FBI agent in Dragon) popped up as an army general or something to that effect. I like that guy.
But sadly, despite J.J. Abrams’ involvement, Greg Grunberg was nowhere to be seen.
But that’s pretty much my only complaint (Grunberg rules!) about the film, which is otherwise pretty f-ing great. It’s nice and short (it could even be shorter, see below), and while I wasn’t exactly enamored by all of the characters, director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard DO invest enough time into their leads so that you care about them during what is essentially a 70 minute nonstop chase scene. Also, the lead girl, Odette Yustman, is ridiculously hot, which helps sell the basic narrative thrust of the film (our heroes’ attempts to rescue her out of the city, which is being demolished by the government just as much, if not more than, the monster). I’d grab my unlimited-battery and incredibly-professional-looking-for-a-consumer camera and run around Manhattan while a 30 story monster knocked everything down around me to help her too; probably get mad quality time afterwards.
Like I said though, the film could be a bit shorter, because they sort of go overboard with how much these average looking hipsters can survive in a short time. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that there are two points before the ending where the movie could have conceivably ended, and with each “addition” you are required to put a little too much of your disbelief on hold. Considering that the whole film hinges on the “reality” presentation of this event, it’s a little strange that they expect you to believe regular people can survive 2.5 incredibly violent acts (sorry for slight spoiler, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to word it for like 10 min without spoiling anything and gave up).
Nerds will enjoy the film too, there are many video game references (I SWEAR I heard the army refer using a “Hammer of Dawn” to take out the monster) and a strange moment involving someone’s knowledge of Superman. It’s also pretty funny at times; you might THINK laughing at the idea of an immolated homeless person would never be in the cards, but there it is.
The monster itself is pretty sweet looking, and comparisons to the monsters seen at the end of The Mist are valid. And yes, the big monster spawns little monsters, but don’t let memories of the atrocious 1998 Godzilla cloud your brain – these fuckers are nasty and scary. I’m actually surprised that this got away with a PG-13; not that it’s particularly violent, but there are 2 or 3 scenes that are so INTENSE, something the MPAA has given R ratings for in the past. I actually kind of would have preferred an R rating; it seems a bit odd that a bunch of 25-30 year olds would watch the Statue of Liberty’s head roll down the street and not yell “WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!”
I was also very impressed with the sound on this film. I saw it at the Mann’s Grauman’s Chinese, which is a HUGE theater without stadium seating, and the floor was rumbling throughout, a la IMAX. Definitely see this one at a THX theater if you can; the sound is worth the admission alone (can’t wait for the HD DVD, or, more than likely, sigh, BluRay). However, do NOT bother waiting til the end of the credits, unless you really like knowing a film’s MPAA number. Strangely, a good 80% of the crowd waited in their seats; it just seemed like the kind of movie that would offer an after credits epilogue. But nope, nothing. So leave, beat traffic.
I should point out how disappointed I was that Paramount did not offer a new Iron Man trailer OR an Indiana Jones 4 teaser, at least not at my screening. We just got a Star Trek teaser that didn’t even offer a full image of the Enterprise, only some guys welding it. Exciting. Hilariously, the fucking annoying dipshit in front of me got super excited once the words “Star Trek” appeared on screen. Big fan, you’d think, right? But he sat motionless through “A JJ Abrams film”, the legendary music, and a voiceover saying “Space, the final frontier.” I’m not a Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination and even I knew what it was long before him. Dumbass.
And if you aren't yet convinced this one is worth your time and money - I STAYED AWAKE throughout the entire film, which was a midnight screening. I can't even remember the last time I went to a movie that started after 9 pm that I never dozed for even a minute. Monsters eating hipsters > borderline narcolepsy.
What say you?