Sunday, January 20, 2008

American Monster
Mrs. Rants and I managed to get in a date night this weekend and drop BabyRants at Grammas. We went to see Cloverfield and take in some entertaining New York City destruction. I don't know if any iconic New York City landmarks are left for filmmakers to destroy. Independence Day torched the Empire State Building. The Day After Tomorrow sent a frozen ocean up to the steps of the New York Public Library. The Brooklyn Bridge takes a beating in both I am Legend and this movie, not to mention that the Statue of Liberty gets her head torn off and tossed halfway across Manhattan. If I were the Chrysler Building, I'd think my days of safety were numbered. Indeed, nothing is safe.

It must be said that both Mrs. Rants and I enjoyed the terror of Cloverfield. The narrative device of seeing all action through a handheld digital cam viewfinder a la Blair Witch works and helps to examine a question, "What would I do if a gigantic monster showed up one day and started destroying my hometown"? There are just some outright amazing scenes of destruction and terror and then the movie ends with no tidy ending and no explanation for why and how. As entertainment it definitely delivered.

Interestingly for me though, when I first heard about the movie and saw the trailer I had no idea what was the name of the film. One of the production house logos that are usually shown before a trailer was titled "Bad Robot" and after seeing a trailer I assumed that it was actually a giant badass robot (such as from Japanese cartoons) that was exploding the city. So it was only recently that I learned that a monster was the offending invader and not a Bad Robot as I first thought. This switcheroo begs the question, would the movie have worked if it was a big robot kicking NYC's ass? At first I'd have to say yes simply because I was jazzed from the start of what I perceived to be a first-person perspective movie of a big Japanese-style robot whacking down New York buildings. To me this sounded like good solid entertainment. As I said it was only later that I learned that the antagonist was a monster. Mrs. Rants liked that it was a monster and not a bad robot. I guess a monster is better because it works on an irrational level - you can't reason with a monster as you couldn't reason with a wild animal. But a robot, no matter how bad, is a product of intelligence - someone of smarts would have had to create it, and thus lies an opening toward an appeal toward rationality. Perhaps a robot could be talked out of destroying the city? Who knows. With a monster there's no such opening for negotiation. You just got to load up and hunt it down. A robot is of different origins and would have to be treated differently within the narrative.

At any rate, Cloverfield explores a monster destroying a city. I hope that if there is a sequel, they will dispatch the Bad Robot towards the Big Apple for some ass-whoopin'.


At 7:04 PM, Blogger Kreblog said...

You should check out Lost... especially in this season of dead TV.

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The monster was scary. Great movie, and the short length sort of punctuated the terror. My one complaint: the city was pretty empty. They needed more extras!!
Mrs. Rants


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