First movie of 2008 and I needed something to help me get over the travesty that was Hitman. JJ Abrams is quite well known for starting Lost (then deserting it) and also doing the Alias TV series, which I don't think I've ever watched. He also give us Mission Impossible 3, which nobody seems to be able to remember and even with that awful record he seems to be quite popular and often garners good reviews and sycophantic praise.
So when word of a secret project came to light with his name all over it, the hype started and after a trailer featuring the statue of Liberty's head being kicked down a street things were looking up (unless you're the statue, in which case you're looking down).
The film is shot from the point of view of a video camera of an annoying 20 year old called Hud (I wonder if his name was intentional?) who's filming a party for his equally annoying friends. Then the city around them starts to be destroyed by an alien monster (if you're wondering how I know it's alien and not just from the sea, watch the final click from Deano's Wonderwheel very carefully). Anyway, the alien spends the best part of the film knocking crap out of the city and the military trying to defend it, whilst the annoying leads run around trying to find their friends and escape the city.
Cinema Verite style works for only a small number of genres, and I don't think it works in a movie like this. If you're spending 90 minutes running from a monster then the camera would be facing away from it most of the time, which doesn't make it that exciting for the viewer. Abrams tries to get around this by featuring segments where the characters think they're in a safe place and just witnessing him on his path of destruction (from atop a skyscraper, in a helicopter etc).
Secondly if your life was in peril would you really concern yourself with filming? Admittedly there wouldn't be a film if the camera was left at the party where the film started but having it filming through all of what these kids go through is a bit too far fetched. The even make light of a character leaving their mobile behind, which begs the question which of those two items would a person be most likely to take with them?
Finally its worth mentioning that after Bourne Supremacy this is the second film to feature shops that sell pre-charged mobile phone batteries. Have I discovered a new movie cliche in the making?
If it sounds like I'm bashing the film then I am a little but I did still enjoy it. The destruction of Manhattan is very well done, it's just a shame that we didn't get to see the monster destroy Coney Island, even though it features in the movie. It's a park I didn't really like at all and I would have cheered had we seen the monster stomping down on the Coney Island Cyclone coaster.
Apparently there's a sequel on the way. Perhaps we'll discover whether or not the monster is killed, as that's not answered in this film. Something that seemed to upset quite a lot of people in the showing I went to.
Oh, and if you're susceptible to motion sickness don't sit too close to the front and if you're going to be sick ensure you've taken a large enough box of popcorn to be sick into, as happened to the guy sat behind me (which could have been quite gross for me had his aim not been good).
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