Friday, January 18, 2008

Think I Might Buy Stock in Dramamine

Just got back from seeing an early show of the new monster movie Cloverfield with my good buddy, Bob Skir. The picture is everything the advertising promises; thrilling, frightening, frenetic. It's also, if you happen to suffer -- as I sometimes do -- from a little motion sickness, a pretty good way to help you heave your cookies. The entire film is supposedly shot on someone's handheld camcorder and the constant, relentless jangling motion not only makes the action sometimes hard to follow, but is also ultimately quite nauseating. By the time I was two thirds of the way through the film, I found I could not look at the screen without becoming lightheaded, dizzy, and downright queasy. I spent several minutes looking down at my feet while listening to the action so as not to spew my breakfast all over my buddy Bob.

Fortunately, the filmmakers -- director Matt Reeves (his first feature), screenwriter Drew Goddard (scripter for Buffy, Angel, and Alias), and executive producer JJ Abrams (of Alias, Lost, and the upcoming new Star Trek feature fame) -- seem to realize this and, as a result, the entire movie, sans credits, clocks in at only about 75 minutes. So by the time you're ready to blow, so to speak, the picture is already over. Apparently, I'm by no means the first to suffer this phenomenon, since the usher stopped us on our way into the theater to warn us about the motion sickness problem, and advise us on how best to handle ourselves should the oopsies occur.

Still, if you have a stronger equilibrium than mine (which isn't difficult), Cloverfield is well worth your time. It's a new take on an old genre and, if you go on an empty stomach, I promise you'll get your money's worth.

Oh, BTW, in case you might be interested, despite some arbitrary effort to try to make it fit, the title Cloverfield means absolutely nothing to the film. I have a feeling it was originally just one of those cover titles -- like Blue Harvest for the first Star Wars film or Rita's First Kiss for the upcoming The Dark Knight -- designed to dissuade potential gawkers, that stuck when nobody involved in the movie could think of a better title.

You gotta love show biz.


Sandy said...

Neither Marv nor I had a problem with the camera motion. I thought the movie was excellent, the abbreviated length being a plus. The title apparently comes from a street near Abrams office, and you're probably correct as to why it stuck, as opposed to, say, "Not Actually Godzilla".

YotaruVegeta said...

Is it just random that some people suffer from motion sickness and some do not?

I don't, but three guys sitting in the same row as me were ducking their heads during the last 30 minutes of Cloverfield. They didn't like the movie, but they didn't even get to see most of it because they were dizzy!

eliot said...

Here's a news report which basically says "Len was right:"

Hit monster movie is a literal stomach-churner

Thu Jan 24, 2:40 PM ET

Monster movie "Cloverfield" may have scored a hit at the box-office but the action film's jerky camerawork is leaving audiences suffering from motion sickness, a report said Thursday.

The film -- about a group of young people trying to flee a giant reptile as it rampages through New York -- was largely shot with hand-held cameras to give it the feel of a home video, The Los Angeles Times reported.

However the style of the movie, which went straight to the top of the North American box-office after last week's opening, has left many cinema-goers feeling nauseous, the Times reported.