Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cloverfield and Independence Day

On Friday night my son asked to watch the film Cloverfield. I don't know why really or where he heard about it. We didn't have it on DVD and it wasn't on Netflix. So we watched Independence Day instead. Independence Day is a big blockbuster of an American movie, it is very superficial and has so many stereotypes in it that it's easy to see it as the product of a Hollywood team who have had several hit movies and want to apply a "safe" money making formula. There is very little art in making a film like Independence Day, even most of the acting is wooden. Strangely, the casting of the US President was so poor that it would have been more entertaining watching paint dry and he had a lot to deal with: millions of civilian casualties, thousands of military casualties, his wife dying and apparently some kind of animosity in the past with a scientist played by Jeff Goldblum, who is the only person in the world to crack the code used by the alien ships. The plot is just so overloaded with stuff happening that it disguises all of the flaws except one, it's a shit film with some good special effects.
I found the DVD for Cloverfield in a charity shop yesterday. Now, this film is way better than Independence Day. It is shot using shaky camera and can be a bit disorienting because of that but it does make the action much more gripping because it tells the story from a first person point of view. It reveals the story, rather than hammering it into us. There is a section at the start that seems very long but is about the main character who is leaving Manhattan for a job in Japan. The love story is revealed through his friends. His brother takes him out to a balcony and is explaining that he is being a douchebag by not telling the girl he is in love with how he really feels. It's a pivotal moment because this is the moment that the lights go out for a second and everyone in the party realises something bad just happened to the city. Interestingly, another pivotal moment is the later death of his brother on the Brooklyn Bridge. The main character would also have been killed had he not received a phone call from the girl he loves. He decides he has to go back into Manhattan to find his girlfriends apartment. I won't give any more away but the way the story unfolds is excellent.
In this play off between films the victor is clear - Cloverfield wins by a huge margin.

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