I don’t rush out to see (or quickly post reviews of) the big movies. You can get that lots of other places. Unlike, say, my keen insight on the latest movies about the Middle East.
But we did go out to see Cloverfield. The Boy pronounced it “the best monster movie I’ve ever seen”.
Monster movies are inherently a dated thing. Alien–the horror movie of my generation–to him is like Frankenstein was to me. It’s perhaps weird to think of exploding chests in the same category as stiff-legged golems, but it’s not so much a matter of gore, I think, as a matter of what seems more real.
And Cloverfield does a good job selling itself. In a nutshell, this is a Godzilla movie with the emphasis on a group of people who are unfortunate enough to be at Ground Zero when “it” arrives. A plot contrivance forces them to go toward the monster rather than away, which gives us opportunities to see the the beast major as well as all the little beasties that drop off it like lice.
This contrivance takes about 15-20 minutes to set up which had me saying “Thank God!” when the monster finally arrives. (At another point, when the characters have spent lots of time and risked themselves horribly to save another character who appears to be dead when they find them, The Boy leaned over and said to me, “Well, that was time well spent.”)
I’d heard some bitching about the monster, but I liked it and the boy proclaimed it “perfect”. The shaky cam didn’t bother me much and of course The Boy barely noticed it. (I have a theory about that: I think kids today are well-exposed to shaky-cam stuff so their brains automatically stabilize images internally in a way that older folks have to work at, if they can do it at all.)
It’s fun without being campy. Exciting without being too preposterous. Mysterious without being obscure. It’s actually a very old school style movie, with the monster not introduced until well into the movie, and not really shown clearly until the last act. It’s surprising that it works at all, but it does.