A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

Cloverfield

Godzilla gets a MySpace Page

To sum up the much buzzed about Cloverfield, I turn the podium over to coaching luminary Dennis Green. Dennis...

DG: It was what I thought it was! (Storms off)

Thank you Dennis. Yes, 'Cloverfield' is exactly what you would expect, for better or worse. 'Godzilla' filmed via 'Blair Witch'. Those looking for something deep and profound, with more layers than an onion (like Lost) will surely be disappointed. If you're in it for the quick sugar buzz, and don't mind the absence of such silly things like character development and back story (not necessarily a bad thing in this case), then you may walk away happy. Either way, you'll walk away woozy and a bit nauseous. Literally.

The premise is simple. The main character, Rob is going to Japan. I think. There is a big surprise 'going away' party, and one of Rob's buddies Hud is documenting the festivities with a video camera. Rob's one unrequited love, Beth, shows up at the party with another guy. Rob gets sad and says mean things to Beth, who leaves. Beth is also sad. The next thing you know, things go boom, one thing leads to another and before you know it the head of the Statue of Liberty is lying in the street. Naturally, people take pictures with their camera phones. The city is under siege, but by what? My gut instinct was Roger Clemens.

Turns out I was wrong. It's a monster. Is that a vague enough description for you? We do get some shots of the beast, but since the whole movie is shown from the perspective of Hud's video camera as they run through the streets of New York, you don't get a money shot right away. Instead you catch a glimpse of the tail running between buildings, or an overhead shot of the creature from the TVs in a store window. Meanwhile Beth calls Rob. She's been hurt and is stuck in her building. Rob and the rest of gang decide, against all better forms of judgement, that they should go try to find her and save her.

'Cloverfield', while no cinematic masterpiece, is amusing enough so long as you check your lofty expectations at the door. There are some pretty neat shots of the monster towards the end, though you'd still be hard pressed to give even the most talented sketch artist a good idea of what it was that you were looking at. There are also some smaller, parasite monsters that jump off of the host monster and start attacking people. I imagine that the attackees were frustrated at best.

The camera shakes throughout and will leave you feeling like you just took a ride on a rollercoaster...while you were drunk. If you thought 'The Bourne Ultimatum' was shaky...this is like it's crack addled, ex-con brother who has Tourette's and is prone to seizures.

In the end, 'Cloverfield' is like a supersized Value Meal. Much better in theory than in reality, it tastes good going down, but is ultimately forgettable and leaves you a bit queasy.


Thunder Matt Rating: 3 Barf Bags Out of 5

There Will Be Blood

Love it or loathe it, you won't soon forget it.

Quite a few of the bartenders here at the Saloon have born witness to this film, chronicling the zany antics of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, played with gusto and sadistic glee by the always great Daniel Day Lewis. A few loved it, at least one hated it and the rest fall somewhere in between. Count me as one of the ones occupying the comfortable middle ground, though the more I think about it (and it's been a month since I've seen it) the more I inch towards the 'love it' camp.

If I tell you that Daniel Plainview is an oil man, you will agree. Based very loosely on Upton Sinclair's book Oil!, TWBB tells the epic tale of Daniel Plainview, spanning from the moment he first discovers oil (illustrated during the daring and brilliant, not to mention wordless opening sequence) to his eventual decent into madness, fueled by greed and pushed to the edge by his arch-rival, a man of the cloth named Eli Sunday, played by Paul Dano (the teenage kid from 'Little Miss Sunshine').

The film is epic in scale and filled to the brim with testosterone, dirt, mustaches and oil. It's chock full of colorful characters, majestic cinematography and is more quotable than any film in recent memory, Will Ferrell comedies included. Daniel Day Lewis is brilliant, whether he is chewing the scenery or just shooting subtle daggers with his eyes. The score is bizarre but oddly fitting for such a manic film. The ending, while ripe for parody, is as intense and pants pooping as anything you'll see on celluloid.

The film sort of lost me towards the end when it shifted from themes of greed, family, capitalism and religion and focused more on Plainfield's spiral into madness, but there is something to be said about a film that spurs discussion and sticks with you for weeks. Much like 'No Country For Old Men', this one won't be everybody's cup of tea, but for me it was one tasty milkshake. Drink it up!

Thunder Matt Rating: 3.5 Milkshakes Out of 5

Lightning Round

Atonement

IMBD Cribbed Synopsis: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a 13-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister's (Keira Knightley) lover (James McAvoy) of a crime he did not commit. Based on the British romance novel by Ian McEwan.

Review: The first 45 minutes of this Oscar nominee had me questioning my sexuality, as I actually really, really liked it. Then the underfed but always alluring Keira Knightly disappears for the next 45 and we're stuck with James McAvoy wandering around a battlefield in WWII, but not actually fighting. I don't want to watch James pine for true love. If I watch anyone pine I'd like it to be Keira. James, you're at war. Man up and start shooting someone.


Finally Keira re-enters the picture, but at that point my interest had waned and I kept replaying the earlier love scene in my head, wondering if I had really glimpsed a boob or not. Top it off with a Titanic-esque ending and what you have here is a missed opportunity, not a Best Picture Nominee.

Thunder Matt Rating: 3 Possible Boob Shots Out of 5

P.S. I Love You

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: A young widow discovers that her late husband has left her 10 messages intended to help ease her pain and start a new life.

Review: Wow. Clearly I see a lot of movies. The majority of the time my wife lets me do the picking. This is what happens when I hand over the reigns. Seriously, this made 'Atonement' look like 'Rambo'.

Hilary Swank is married to the guy from '300', who is a sensitive Irish rocker that dies and leaves her letters that are supposed to help her move on. She visits Ireland and pumps another Irish rocker guy. She would appear to be working her way up the chain to Bono. But seriously guys...this is a chick flick in the truest sense of the word. At the showing I attended, there were probably 50 people and it was all women save for me and one other poor sap. Ladies, if you like to weep and watch the guy from '300' walk around with his shirt off, by all means. Lisa Kudrow is also in this and Good Lord does she look old and weathered. P.S., my testicles still haven't grown back.

Thunder Matt Rating: 1.5 Tissues Out of 5

Be Kind, Rewind

In Theatres: February 22, 2008

IMDB Cribbed Synopsis: A man (Black) whose brain becomes magnetized unintentionally destroys every tape in his friend's video store. In order to satisfy the store's most loyal renter, an aging woman with signs of dementia, the two men set out to remake the lost films, which include Ghostbusters, The Lion King, and Robocop.

Review: An original concept from a great director (Michael Gondry - 'Eternal Sunshine') had my hopes up for this one, but ultimately you may want to wait for it to come out on VHS. As seems to be the theme with this last batch of reviews, this one starts out promising but can't sustain the initial momentum. This one has a very retro feel to it and not just because they're peddling VHS tapes. It's like one of those 80's movies that you stumble across on Comedy Central on a Saturday morning and end up watching the last 2/3 of it, and before you know it its past noon and you're still in your boxers. A sudden wave of guilt washes over you, knowing that you just wasted half your day following the trials and tribulations of a young Anthony Michael Hall.

To be fair, this one does have it's moments and gets bonus points for creativity. Jack Black is his usual Jack Black-y self, and whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing, its his maniac energy keeps the film afloat. A scene with him and Mos Def attempting to break into a DVD store with hilarious results is a testament to his ability to make ordinary material seem so hilarious. The real highlights though, are the recreations of old films like 'Ghostbusters', 'Boyz in the Hood' and 'Robocop'. Some are funnier than others but you have to admire the creativity that goes into each one.

Ah, if only the expository stuff was near as interesting. Much like the films that it attempts to recreate, this one should at least have a long run on cable.


Thunder Matt Rating: 2.5 VHS Copies of 'Strange Brew' Out of 5

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