Mladen and Del review ‘Cloverfield’

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

“Cloverfield” Starring Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T. J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David. Directed by Matt Reeves; created by J.J. Abrams. 85 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Mladen’s take

An amphibious monster, stories tall or a couple of blocks long, depending on the way you want to measure the beast, attacks Manhattan and it’s plausible.

That’s what makes “Cloverfield” work — the director takes the movie’s premise seriously.

Though “Cloverfield” sucks as a title, the movie becomes riveting after it finally cuts to explosions, toppled buildings, gunfire and missile and bomb attacks.

“Cloverfield” is realistic because it’s shot from the street-level point of view of a handful of people while the scaleless monster rampages through New York. The frenetic, jittery perspective you see on the big screen is captured by one of the survivors, who’s wielding a camcorder with the longest-lasting battery ever manufactured.

The CGI and the real blend flawlessly in this movie.

At any moment I expected cameraman Hud to focus on a still-functioning TV at an electronics story being looted as mayhem sweeps the island. President Bush comes on, the TV screen flickering.

“My fellow Americans, we are in a long war with monsters,” he would have said. “I don’t know when it will end, maybe never, but we will achieve victory. To protect you, I’m suspending all civil liberties and disbanding Congress. I can do that. It’s in the Constitution. Ask Dick Cheney. There’s no time for silliness like democracy while radical Islamic fundamentalist jihadist terrorists unleash such furry — ah, fury — on the good, holy people of America. God bless me, your savior.”

Like GM and Ford are finally starting to build cars that can compete with Japanese brands, Hollywood has finally released a movie that can compete with Japanese giant monsters such as Godzilla and Gamera.

See “Cloverfield” while it’s in theaters. Go to the bathroom and buy popcorn sometime during the movie’s first 20 minutes, which are spittle, and then prepare for a jolt.

Del’s take

“Scaleless monster”? Mladen. I never thought of you as a dermaphobe.

Still, “Cloverfield” is a romp ’em stomp ’em bad ass monster of a movie, and anybody who disagrees needs to have his aura adjusted by a Marine drill sergeant.

OK, so the first 20 minutes are more “Quarterlife” than “Die Hard.” So what? That’s the part where we learn the viewpoint characters are as insipid and selfish as we. How else could we know that Rob is a metrosexual wussie who believes “commitment” is a dish best served cold?

But once the infrastructure starts rolling down the streets it’s a cinema verite grudge match featuring the icons of order vs. the forces beyond our control in a mighty metaphor for what’s happening in the world around us. If the U.S. could have dropped the “Cloverfield” monster on Fallujah, Barack Obama would be running a distant third.

Yes, we can niggle. How could that monster jump at a helicopter? What happened to Marlena behind the curtain? And in the movie’s final scene, did you really see something fall into the water? Oooh.

I just wish people would stop Blair Bitching about the jiggly camera motion – take a dramamine and call me in the morning. Ever read “The Sound and the Fury”? William Faulkner thought of the idea decades ago. If you can live with it on YouTube you can live with it in “Cloverfield.”

I think J.J. Abrams has kicked some serious Godzilla booty. This is not narrative storytelling. It’s slice-of-death moviemaking for a generation of voyeurs and narcissists who measure their worth in terms of the body count on their Facebook friends list.

In the movie’s penultimate scene we hear two very loud noises. Those were the sounds of a genre cracking under the weight of its own inertia and crashing into a new and limitless ocean of creative expression.

Let’s hope “Cloverfield” sinks a few ships.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.