Quick Background Check: J. J. Abrams (of Alias, Lost and the forthcoming Star Trek Reboot) is producing a movie about something destroying New York City. Information has been gleaned from two trailers, and summarized here. Imagine a Godzilla movie, except all filmed from the point of view of one dude with a video camera.
The second trailer linked above was just released, and it sheds a bit more light on the story: the big beast is not the only concern for our protagonists – they also have to deal with man-sized monsters that chomp heads, hard-nosed military guys with guns, and probably a crazed psychopath or two.
Here are two things that practically guarantee that I won’t be interested in it:
1) The Nature of the Monster. The fact that the Statue of Liberty has big claw marks across its back suggest that Cloverfield’s threat isn’t just another bunch of bloodthirsty, flesh-eating, poison-spraying creatures from another planet, and that’s probably a good thing. The movie monster canon has very few offerings when it comes to city-wide demolition: mutations (Godzilla and pals), alien spacecraft (War of the Worlds, et al), giant robots (thank you, Japan) and human misadventure (war, nukes, etc.). See below for one place giant movie monsters haven’t gone, at least not in a major feature.
2) ShakyCam. I get motion sick. Some video games make me nauseous. If Cloverfield has the shakes and the shambles and the shimmies (as suggested by the trailers), then I’ll give the seats in front of me a first person view of my second-hand popcorn.
The one factor that will guarantee my attendance is the if the identity of the monster has anything at all to do with the baddest ass of bad assed giant monsters, Cthulhu.
The Tentacled Terror isn’t a mutation, he isn’t exactly an alien, and he isn’t a byproduct of human intervention. He’s from outer space, but his power and grotesqueness are such that his very nature is an indescribable mystery. Just looking at Cthulhu drives the looker insane. He sleeps forever in an ancient city under water, at least until he rises from the deep, accompanied by the Deep Ones (which are like little versions of him). Metallica did a kickass song about Cthulhu, and nerds have known about him forever.
But the monster in Cloverfield probably isn’t Cthulhu, according to what Abrams said at ComiCon this year (which you can read in the Wikipedia article). Rumors have made the monster out to be anything from Voltron to Godzilla to a Lost spinoff.
Personally, I don’t think it’s going to be any of the above things. It’s probably just some monster-thingy that J. J. Abrams dreamt up, a mishmash of Japanese monsters and modern American sensibilities. I’m imagining a kind of malformed, two-legged beast that looks vaguely metallic, with bits of oceany stuff sticking out of it, like tankers and oil rigs and pirate ships. Its origin will never be explained in the movie, and likely the monster (and its bitey offspring) will never be fully visible to the audience.
If that’s the case, then I’ll be treated to an overwrought rollercoaster ride in which lots of guns are shot off and lots of things explode, and lots of things jump out of dark corners, but we don’t ever really care about any of the characters, nothing is ever really explained and nothing ever really matters.
You know, like Lost.