Entry for January 22, 2008: Cloverfield

Friends, I hope you’ve had a good week. Among other things I learned in the “Writing for Multiple Platforms” class at work last week was the fact that I need to shorten my blog posts and update this more frequently. So, here goes.

On Friday, 18 January 2008, Janice and I had a good dinner at Stone Hearth Pizza, following my New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, locally sourced food. We also ate at Finagle a Bagel later in the weekend, but we mostly stayed in and continued catching up on movies.

Speaking of food and film, I enjoyed French postapocalyptic farce (not a term you hear every day) Delicatessen, and Janice watched computer-animated comedy Meet the Robinsons during one of my D&D3.5 “Vanished Lands sessions. On Sunday, I watched the New England Patriots and New York (actually, New Jersey) Giants win their respective football championships.

Yesterday, I met Thomas K.Y. to screen Cloverfield at the AMC Burlington cineplex northwest of Boston. Janice had to work. While I’ve been a fan of kaiju, or giant monsters, since watching the “4:30 movie” on Channel 11 as a child in metropolitan New York. Thus, the family-friendly imports of the 1960s and 1970s, in which men in rubber suits stomped through miniature Japanese cities, and the classic stop-motion fantasies of Ray Harryhausen defined my tastes.

Kaiju in Manhattan
Cloverfield monster

Cloverfield is closer in spirit to the original Gojira as a parable and horror film. Just as the traumas of postwar Japan spawned Godzilla and Gamera, and Cold War anxiety led to a wave of alien-invasion movies, so Cloverfield and recent zombie flicks reflect our feelings after the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, whose images it directly invokes. As a result, I had more of an emotional response than I did to 1990s disaster pics, such as Independence Day or the weak Americanized Godzilla.

While the handicam-style cinematography is a bit tiring, the street-level view of an unidentified monster and the bloody destruction it wreaks on New York is compelling. Of course, I wish that other cities besides my hometown would be trashed in fiction, but Manhattan’s skyline is an icon of modernity. As usual, military’s weapons do little good as crowds of civilians try to flee. The creature is depicted as a force of nature whose origin and motives remain mysterious.

Like many movies of its kind, Cloverfield takes its time introducing its doomed human characters. I felt that some of the protagonists’ decisions endangered them irrationally, even for a horror flick. Cloverfield has gotten mixed reviews but done well at the box office. Overall, I’d give it about a 7 out of 10. After the movie, Thomas and I had a burger dinner at Fuddrucker’s.

Next time: Genre and gaming updates!