Tuesday 8 June 2010


Yesterday evening I watched Cloverfield, the 2008 camcorder-shot crazy monster movie, simply because it features Lizzy Caplan, that one who plays Janis in Mean Girls. I am 30 years old.

My report on the film itself is that it was a perfectly entertaining way to spend 80 minutes. The camerawork is quite annoying at first, but it does serve to set the film apart from its rivals. The main problem is that, in a film structured much like a zombie movie, Cloverfield succumbs to the old zombie film curse: your cast of sympathetic characters is slowly picked off one by one but they are all so vapid and two-dimensional you don't really care who lives or dies. Lizzy Caplan dies in it. Oops, spoiler alert. Overall, I give it ONE THUMBS UP.

However, where Cloverfield really succeeds as a film (for me, at least) is that it throws up a number of questions. Chief amongst these is: could this really happen? For those who do not know the film, the basic premise is that New York is - for reasons never really explained - suddenly and catastrophically besieged by a huge monster who damn near destroys everything. He is accompanied by more boring smaller spider-type monsters who bite you and then you die horribly. But you can beat them up. The big monster is impervious to all attempts to make it stop doing monster things.

When considering whether or not this could actually happen, I felt determined not to fall blindly into traps of fallacious reasoning. Just because this sort of thing doesn't appear to have happened before, in other words, I can't with any rationality claim with complete certainty that it will never happen. So, in answer to my earlier question, the answer worryingly seemed to be yes.

But would the monster be exactly like the one in the film? Well, as a consequence of the handicam conceit of Cloverfield, getting a really good look at the monster is difficult. During the film I tried to work out which animals the designers had based their creature on. A look at the internet later helped to fill in the gaps. The chief characteristic of the monster would seem to be it's huge, bendy bat-like arms. This is coupled to a bat-style broad chest and powerful back legs which would not be out of place on an ostrich. The head seems to be that of a crazy, ugly dog, although during the film itself I was convinced it had a beak. Could such a creature really pose such a threat to all mankind?

Well, this morning I got out my needle and thread to find out. I grafted a bat's torso onto an ostrich's legs. Then I shaved the head of an angry pit bull terrier and stuck it on the top. Having given it life using a technique far too boring to detain you with any further, I made the startling discovery that, just like the monster in the film, my creation was pretty furious.

All in all, watching Cloverfield and then going through the natural questions and research that arise from it has been a fairly chastening experience. Not least because of the angry thing I've had to lock in the garage. I remain hopeful that, on a planet as hugely old as the earth (allied to the relatively minute lifespan of a human being), the statistical probability of being around when this shit goes off is fairly low. However, I think I might take to wearing a utility belt and carrying a stick, just in case. To be honest, I've been looking for an excuse for some time.

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