Tuesday, 12 February 2008

My take on Cloverfield

Now that half of the civilised world has seen the movie we're all completely engrossed in the opinionated analytical aftermath. For the three people out there who've been on a long camping trip and wonder what the film itself is like, here's the synopsis described in algebraic terms:
Cloverfield = Blair Witch Project + Godzilla + a huge sfx budget.
That's it. Don't look for anything deeper; it isn't there. Now, you could very well talk about the courage of using a single unwavering viewpoint for the entire film, something that could very easily have spoiled the whole experience, and it did actually work well - to a point. Unfortunately that point was passed very quickly and the tension gave way to boredom.

If you've been asleep for the last few years you won't have heard of JJ Abrams or Paul Greengrass and are blissfully unaware of the havoc the two men have created. The rest of us have ground our teeth through several movies that had the potential to be great but were completely ruined by their addiction to hand-held camera-work. I have a theory about this: either they saw The War Of The Worlds as impressionable children and developed a pathological fear of anything that looked like a tripod, or they're allergic to aluminium. What other reasons could they possibly have for not leaving the camera in a fixed position for more than 3 seconds at a time? Let's be honest: the second and third Bourne films would have been dynamic enough if all the movement had been created by Matt Damon's antics, we didn't need the camera to be operated by a man suffering from Parkinson's disease. The deliberately shaky camera-work of films like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project do heighten the sense of tension and panic that power the films along but they have the unfortunate side-effect of evoking motion sickness in anyone who's recently eaten popcorn or chocolate - not great for the cinema-going public.

Seriously though, the real problem with this style of movie is that there's no comfortable middle ground: either it grabs you and you get it, or it doesn't and you don't. I didn't.

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