Ok, I skipped over a few movies I've watched in the past few weeks to comment on this one, but hey, it's opening weekend and I caught it at a midnight screening so I'm kind of stoked.
Normally I don't like seeing movies with a large audience. I'm one of those jerks who likes to pay attention to the movie rather than your inane conversation. Seriously, if you wanted to spend an hour and a half discussing what that bitch Jane said about the size of your thighs why didn't you go to a coffee house? They love loitering chatty types there. Sorry, I have anger issues. But last night was different. A near capacity audience who cheered when they saw the Bad Robot logo come up before the movie? Sign me up for that! This sounds like a group of folks I would like to drink some Kool-Aid with.
Case in point: The new Star Trek trailer that played before the flick was greeted with "ohh"s and "ahhh"s and general drooling. In response to this admittedly fanboyish reaction some meat-head shouted out "Fuckin nerds"...some giggling from the crowd. From across the auditorium came the retort "Yeah, so?"...clapping and hooting ensued. Slinging around (supposed) epithets like geek and nerd at a midnight showing of a monster movie might be sort of a pot, kettle, black issue.
All of which brings me to my point, if you have any interest in seeing this movie in the theater, try to catch it this weekend. It's great fun with a large group.
However I don't think this is a "must see on the big screen" type of movie. It would probably be better suited stylistically to a television, if not a computer screen. As a matter of fact he shakycam/first person method of film making employed would probably look right at home with a YouTube logo in the bottom right hand corner.
I'm going to postulate that the ideal viewing environment would be a house party or a movie night type gathering. Somewhere you can get the social interaction and also (probably) avoid getting motion sickness.
None of this actually speaks to the movie itself however. Picture Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project humping and making little baby movies and you'll be pretty close. I don't mean that in a bad way though. Unlike Blair Witch the characters are actually pretty likable, and the movie never cheats on the "found footage" conceit. Hud, the camera operator, barely knows how to work the equipment he is given. There are no cuts other than the camera being turned on and off. There is no explanation as to what the footage is other than the stern government warning seen at the beginning and the end.
The film also manages to comment on it's own presentation without being too cute or on the nose. During the party scene that practically starts off the movie we see other people walking around with camcorders, taking pictures with digital cameras and camera phones. We are forced to accept the gimmick of first person film making because in our modern "we are Big Brother" world it has become commonplace. At one point during the party this becomes obvious when Hud focuses his camera onto the screen of another camera that has a better angle of the action than he does.
The other moment that drives the fact of camera ubiquity home happens during one of the lulls in the first wave of destruction. Almost immediately after crawling out of their hiding places, the survivors pull out their camera phones and start taking pictures. This also seems to make a point of our post 9/11 reality, one where seeing the head of the Statue of Liberty come crashing down into a Midtown(?) street seems unlikely, but not out of the question.
The film is at least slightly scarier than it's PG-13 rating lets on,(apparently the MPAA doesn't have a check box for nihilism next to blood and boobs) and you probably should remember to bring your Dramamine. It might not hold up to repeated viewings but as a roller coaster it works pretty well. With that in mind, if you dig on thrill ride flicks, get thee to a mulitplex.
8 Creepy Lice Spider-Squids out of 10