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Everything JJ Abrams Touches Continues to Turn to Gold January 21, 2008

Posted by Amy in movies.
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Something totally improbable happened with JJ Abrams‘ latest endeavor…it completely lived up to a brilliant marketing campaign. I mean, here’s a monster movie, set in modern-day New York City, featuring a cast of unknowns, shown entirely from the perspective of a hand-cam. (I really want to hear what this sounded like pitched to the studio.) In grand JJ Abrams’ style–he of “Alias” & “Lost” & soon of “Star Trek” movie fame–it is promoted with one of the most memorable, most talked-about teaser trailers ever. Remember this?

Then, incredibly, “Cloverfield” turns out to be great. The hand-cam thing works. It puts you right in the middle of the dizzying, confusing, terrifying action. The unknown cast works. A movie like this just wouldn’t be the same if we were watching, say, Josh Hartnett or Katie Holmes running around New York. You wouldn’t quite be able to buy the premise, that the hand-cam video of the horrifying attack on the city was captured by random party-goers caught in the middle of something they never asked to be a part of. (It reminded me just a little bit of the camera phone videos we saw from 9/11 and other disasters, a realistic & sobering feeling.) The lead characters aren’t heroes. They aren’t asked, nor do they try, to save New York. They’re just trying to survive.

As a sidebar, just about all of the unknowns give nice performances, some of them are even great. They show the ability to express more than terror, which is pretty much a bonus for these kind of movies. So, kudos.

Even the monster works, because the movie doesn’t ask you to logic your way through its existence, doesn’t try to answer the question of what it is or how it got here or what it wants. And most importantly, we aren’t forced to go through the entire film frustrated from never quite seeing the thing that’s chasing the characters. It’s elusive, but we do get a gloriously clear shot of the monster at some point, for which we should be grateful, considering what we’ve gotten from Abrams’ island creature on “Lost.”

So, overall, just an enjoyable, awesome movie, highly recommended, go make it a part of your life. PS: I also saw “27 Dresses” this weekend & it was also highly enjoyable, in the way mindless but adorable chick flicks can be if they feature as charming performances as Katherine Heigl & James Marsden‘s. Nice weekend to see a movie.

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