Last night, several friends, the spousal unit, and I went to see the movie Cloverfield....one friend described it as "Blair Witch meets Godzilla."
For those of you who haven't been exposed to the mega amounts of hype, the premise is that the movie is supposed to be the retrieved film from the minicam of a New Yorker taken as the city is attacked by some giant monster. As such, it's supposed to be "the average person's point of view of a major calamity" kind of thing.
The film starts off with the "let's set up the character" stuff. One of the major characters, it seems, is about to move to Tokyo for a job or something, and his brother and friends are throwing a going away party. There's some subplot with him and a girl whom he has loved for years. It doesn't matter, really. The set-up went on for about twenty minutes, and although it was supposed to build our sympathy for the characters, it instead made me wish that the monster would hurry up, attack these people, and make them die slowly and painfully.
The humans were all annoying. They were the "hey, we're in our mid twenties, unbelievably rich, thin, and spoiled, and we're partying yet can still cry when our stupid little boyhood crushes go bad" types. They were stupid. They were petty. I wanted them to suffer.
Then the monster attacks NY. Everyone runs to the roof, and when debris started to fly, everyone ran to the street. A building collapsed/exploded, and the crowds scattered. Some of the major characters found refuge in a store before the clouds of smoke, dust, and crap hit.
Right then, I started to feel dramatically uncomfortable. I wondered how a 9/11 survivor watching this film would feel about their experiences being ripped off and regurgitated so the viewer can feel sympathy for spoiled brat 20 year olds who have Central Park-overlooking apartments.
It went on. The characters never became likable. We only really got limited exposure to the monster. We never figured out what it was all supposed to be about.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to focus on the small scale stories instead of adopting a big picture view. Hell, in most cases, the desire to look at the details, at the humanity, would be appealing and gutsy. The problem with this film is that the humanity we did get to see was annoying, the horror was hidden, and the big picture was non-existent. Unfortunately, while many of the lead characters died, they did so in quick, non-pain-filled ways instead of slow and horribly, which is what they deserved.
When the closing credits started, one film-goer let out a loud "That's it?" As we left, I heard another say "That's the worst movie I actually saw in the theaters." Personally, I wanted to make the filmmakers sit down and watch Godzilla 2000 to see that monster movies do not have to suck. It also made me aware that any piece of crap can be hyped into being the "best selling movie of the week."
Avoid this film, unless you just have excess time to kill, money to blow, and incredibly low standards.