Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.
HAPPY NONSENSE: POP CULTURE CONFIDENTIAL
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
They were in my head.
Sitting in the theatre back In July, seeing the first
teaser, I was capitvated, and more than a bit excited.
In one of those rare moments, the entire film had
snuck under the radar, and that little smidge of
footage, untitled, represented something that I as a
filmgoer was hoping for: another shot at redemption
for the American kaiju film.
God knows, it needed it. The 1998 "Godzilla" (and I
can only put it in quotation marks, because it was NOT
Godzilla) was the most colossal disappointment of the
past decade of cinema. Peter Jackson's KING KONG had
its moments, but pacing issues were brutal. And
frankly, the big monkey wasn't big enough.
Reaching back into my childhood, I was like so many,
addicted to watching syndicated movies on weekday
afternoons after school and on idle Saturdays. And
nothing captured my attention like turning on the
television and seeing Godzilla on the screen. This
hulking, green, fire-breathing monster, rampaging his
way through cities and battling other monsters his
size... God. I would curl up in my grandfather's
recliner and lock my eyes onto the screen, unable to
turn away, and in my own way, deeply in love with what
I was seeing.
But as we all know, love is a double-edged sword. It
cuts, and it makes us bleed. And as much as I loved
those movies, inevitably, I would go to bed those
nights, and my nightmares would come, filled with
giant monsters. And for my part, I was always trapped
somewhere, trying to hide. Yet no matter where I went,
it always seemed like I was stuck in the middle of the
fights, or that I was never far from danger. I'd wake
up panicked, sweating, shaking... disoriented and
wondering why I was still alive.
Hell, if I'm being honest, I still have those types of
dreams today, even when I haven't parked my rear end
in front of the tube and watched a giant monster film.
I'm certainly not the only one, of course. Plenty of
kids went through the same thing, the same nightmares.
Hell, for young geeks, it's sort of a rite of passage,
I suppose. It doesn't always become one of their
ultimate obsessions, but for some of us, it has become
a lifelong relationship. Some of you know just how
much the big G means to me, and that I'd sell every
one of your mothers, including mine, to get my hands
on the character creatively.
My friend Matt and I have differed wildly in our feelings about
what CLOVERFIELD would be and whether or not it would
deliver upon its promise. I get exactly where he's
coming from, and honestly, after the 1998 "Godzilla"
debacle, I'm the last person who should ever have
anything resembling expectations. But watching the
trailers and clips from CLOVERFIELD, I was absolutely
certain I knew what it was. And it was.
It was my childhood nightmares brought to life and
slapped up on the screen.
People trapped, chasing through danger to save the
life of another, and finding nothing but fear, death,
and horror, no matter where they go. No safety. No
moments to breathe. Panic. Loss. Captured to a "t" and
right on screen. I don't mind telling you, it kinda
freaked me out.
But as much as it freaked me out, I can only imagine
what a New Yorker who lived through 9/11 is going to
feel while watching it. The film baldly plays upon
imagery from our national conscience's day of imfamy.
Debris clouds, destroyed landmarks, toppled buildings,
people trying to evacuate Manhatten on foot via the
Brooklyn Bridge. Memories will be dredged up, and I'm
sure that many will feel uncomfortable. Can't blame
them, that's for sure.
I have zero clue what the ultimate verdict the
nerdosphere will render on CLOVERFIELD, but I can say
this beyond my personal reaction: when the credits
began to roll (and if you go, stay through the
credits- there's only one piece of musical score, and
it plays after the credits begin, and it is an
incredible tribute to every great monster movie score
*ever*) more people stayed in their seats than any
movie I've seen in *years*. I sat listening to the
chatter, hearing people discuss and dissect what they
had just seen. Good or bad, the film struck a chord
with the people in the audience, and they needed to
get their thoughts out *immediately*.
If you do plan to see it, let me make two
recommendations. One, see it in the theatre: the
handheld camera work is going to be extremely rough on
home video, unless you have at least a 42-inch TV.
Two: sit as far back from the screen as you
comfortably can. Or motion sickness is in your near