…………the lights came on, the credits started rolling …. & people were still glued to their seats, their minds probably reeling from the lack of closure & unanswered questions in the film’s ending …… one guy commented loudly “Apalah…., CERITA BODOH!”………..and that, ladies & gentlemen, was how most Malaysians perceived the movie “CLOVERFIELD” when Fat Dragon & I watched it last Saturday night at the cinemas …….
Reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project film making genre, this movie was produced by J.J. Adams directed by Matt Reeves and written by Drew Goddard . It tells the story of 5 New Yorkers in Manhattan on the night the city comes under siege from a monster!
The shaky handycam effect made the film very realistic! All the scenes are supposed to come from the camera of Hud, who was assigned by a group of friends to document a party held for Rob, his best friend, who has been promoted and is going away. He then documents the chaos that ensues following the monster’s trail of rampage. The audience never gets a full picture of what’s happening, just snippets – You see a tail here, a hand there. Explosion here, Explosion there & bam…..suddenly, the Statue of Liberty’s decapitated head lands in front of a crowd of panicky but curious New Yorkers in the movie. There’s no hero out there to save the city, no hero to save the world! All you get is a ground zero experience, just as if you’re in the thick of the action with the 5 friends.
The producers set out to put the audience in the dark with unanswered questions for dramatic effect ….. but it seems to have gotten the opposite effect with some people. Perhaps you will appreciate the movie more after these questions have been answered…????
1. CLOVERFIELD – where does the title come from? Is it the name of the monster…the name of a place?
No, it’s not the name of the monster or even a place. “Cloverfield” is the case name given by the US GOVT for an incident recorded from an amateur operated handy camera involving an unidentified fictional monster which appears in New York City. The handycam was found in Central Park, under the rubble of a bridge blown apart in an attempt to kill the monster creature. The fate of its owners is obvious.
2. What is the creature exactly? A giant lizard, like Godzilla? …or a giant ape like King Kong?
Neither. The directors wanted no copycat version of the destructive Godzilla or the ‘adorable’ King Kong. Cloverfield’s creature has two giant gorrila like feet at the front, which it uses to walk. It posesses a giant raptor like head which has two inflating pink sacks on either side. Its skin is brown & coarse while the sacks on the side of its head are pink – transluscent & veiny when inflated. (I thought the veiny inflating sacks makes the creature look real & scary…)
3. How on earth did the monster materialise? From space, from the sea, where?
The creature is a ‘baby’ who has been underwater for thousands of years & comes out of the sea. It is supposed to be an immature/ new born creature suffering from separation anxiety. It is comparable to real life elephants who get frightened & lash out at the circus. The creature finds itself on land (a place out of its element), it’s feeling lost & scared, so it goes on rampage. Pay attention to its eyes….. the addition of white in the creature’s eyes is done deliberately to look similar to an animal like a horse being spooked!
4. Why is this not explained in the movie?
Well, in Malaysia we were not exposed to the viral marketing campaign launched before the film to mount curiosity on the film. In fact, the trailer (check the link out) built up the suspense to the movie by giving only the date of release Jan 18 for the film in the US. No title, nothing! As part of the run up prior to the release date, the web site promoting the movie (1-18-08.com) sent out “sonar pictures” of something moving underwater towards Manhattan to fans. So if we were apart of all these activites, we would’ve guessed the creature came from the sea. However, the movie gives the first hint of the monster in the form of a huge, earth shattering explosion followed by a news report about a ship blown to bits! You sort of guess, the carnage starts from the sea.
5. What are the crab like dog sized creatures falling off of him?
Just like whales at sea, this sea monster also carried parasites on his body & these are the very creatures that fall off the Clover field monster’s body. Ingeniously brilliant idea I say!
6. What happens when you get bitten by the crab like parasites?
No, you do not have aliens growing inside your body & exploding out of your chest. The parasites apparently carry a lethal pathogen which infects the body & causes symptoms like fainting, bleeding from eyes & ends up rupturing your blood vessels as depicted in the movie by the character Marlena Diamond’s death.
7. Why were these crab like creatures introduced in the movie?
Well, there was no plausible way of putting the giant monster head on with the characters in the movie & so the parasites were created for this purpose. The crab like parasites were the movie’s scare factor, creating a far more dramatic effect on the audience than the monster itself!
8. Didn’t they send bombers out to kill the creature?
It obviously is very resistant to projectile weaponry. Shells from M-1 Abrams, AT4 rockets, missiles from F/A-18’s, MLRS and Mk82 boms from a B-2 Bomer failed to create any mortal injury to the creature. In fact, it could even survive the US military’s “Mother of All Bombs”. Well, after all, movie makers would never risk killing off the opportunity of a sequel, would they?
9. Was it really filmed through a handycam?
The producers used the CineAlta F23 high-definition video camera to film nearly all of the New York exterior scenes. The film was shot and edited in a cinéma vérité style, to look like it was filmed with one hand-held camera, including jump cuts similar to ones found in home movies. Director Matt Reeves described the presentation, “We wanted this to be as if someone found a Handicam, took out the tape and put it in the player to watch it. What you’re watching is a home movie that then turns into something else.”
10. Was it a low budget movie?
Would you call US30m, low budget?…… Not really. But the producers were out to make it look like it was a US150m film. Ummm…. no way Jose, we the audience don’t get conned so easily!
11. Well, if M’sians perceived it as a ‘cerita bodoh’, how did it do in the U.S.?
It was a hit. It grossed US46million worth of box office takings during opening weekend alone in the US & Canada. Look, if it didn’t do well, Hasbro wouldn’t have begun accepting orders for a 14 inch collectible toy figure of the monster and its parasites to be shipped to fans by September 30, 2008! (That probably explains why you can hardly find a decent picture of the Cloverfield monster & parasite on the net. It’s probably to protect it from piracy).
Some critics have labled it an ‘efficiently gripping sci fi/ horror romp’ while others called it a “… Blair Witch Reject” but on average it garnered about 64% positive ratings.
There’s really no way of judging the movie other than seeing it for yourself. I suggest you immerse yourself into the film as if you’re really on GROUND ZERO….just as if you’re part of the group running around in the film with the monster & its parasites just behind your back……try that for effect! BTW, the movie comes with a warning….. SO WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK!