I just watched Cloverfield. Well, to be honest, I FFed through most of the first third. The way it started got it started all wrong for me. I have a very low tolerance level for movies that take what to me is waaaay too long to get to the story. Zero patience really. So as I started watching, I had zero interest in the tedious buildup to a farewell party. Zero.

I even walked away from it for a couple of weeks. I hated the thing that much. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it. I just didn’t care at all. I’m sure that’s because I remember all the hype in the trailers and the speculation about what the glimpsed monster really was. So why was I being shown a bunch of friends being average people? Where was my monster?

It got better once the “earthquake” hit Manhattan. Seeing the head of Lady Liberty come rolling into the shot certainly got the adrenaline stirring and the curiosity too. The ensuing action, with a debris cloud driving itself down the avenue, a heroic if idiotic decision to go back in the wrong direction to rescue our hero’s lady love from her apartment in the explodey zone, and some way cool climbing up a partially destroyed building to get to her leaning like knocked over Legos building, was exciting in spite of my already roiling resistance.

As her rescue took place, I admitted to myself that it was indeed heroic, even as I railed mentally at its implausibility. I acknowledged the themes of love and loyalty and friendship, not to mention insanely courageous actions. I watched to the end.

I finished the movie hating it.

Then I started thinking about it. It was as if disjointed and disparate pieces started falling into place. Before long I was forced to resort to a lengthy trip through Googleland to help me understand what the heck I’d just watched. A lot of people liked Cloverfield. A lot of people got it big time. I love science fiction meets monsters meets action movies. So why didn’t I get it while I watched it? Why didn’t I love it during…it? Why did I have to have the reasons so many people loved it explained to me by the internet?

I’m sorry to say it was because my biggest movie pet peeve, extended openings (especially extended all the way through the first act) that don’t seem to match what trailers make me
expect well in advance can sometimes blind me to what comes after. In hindsight, I know I missed a lot of details about the monster and its actions that would have made me like it more as I watched. I feel like I saw a different movie from the one the internet in all its gloriously mishmashed glory showed me after the fact. People are passionate in their dissection of every single monster (or monsters, perhaps?) sighting. Their attention to detail catching is contiguous. It’s also often intelligent and articulate.

What it all comes down to is twofold.

1. Be aware of your own prejudging triggers and try to overcome them just in case you’re actually watching a good movie after all.

2. Trust the man who gave us Alias and Lost and Fringe and successfully rebooted Star Trek, for goodness sake, to know how to tell a story.

Cloverfield Trailer HD