Airplane Movie Reviews: Cloverfield & Vantage Point

Airplane Movie Reviews: Cloverfield & Vantage Point
Like most writers that don’t enjoy starving to death, I’ve got an actual job. Shirts with collars, firm handshakes, offices with unattractive carpeting, etc... Yesterday, that job involved a one-day cross country round trip for a single meeting. This is the sort of thing that sounds fun and glamorous if you've never done it before, or like coming down with an inflammation of giant sentient hemorrhoids if you have. But my biggest problem with this is that Monday evening is my writing night, a holdover from back when I used to do weekly recaps of Heroes episodes (what was up with that?) And as a consequence of my travels, I was completely out of contact with the Internet, that suckling teet that provides nourishment for us bloggers. Or, put in another, less crazy way: the knowledge of the day’s news and pop culture that feeds my blogging was considerably impeded. Which means that instead of ranting at you about video games, or the
Olympics (what was up with that?) I instead present to you, the semi-literate, and probably drunk Cracked reader, with my thoughts and opinions on two 6-month old movies that I saw on the plane: Cloverfield and Vantage Point. Cloverfield This movie started off well, when I saw that it was only 90 minutes long. I also enjoyed the incredibly boring first 15 minutes, which gave me time to finish my crossword puzzle. I had done a
completely bullshit speculative piece about this movie a while back, and am pleased to report that all my theories were wrong, which for the movie is a good thing, as my predictions were deliberately retarded. As for the movie itself, it’s very much a concept piece, where if you don't like the concept, you won't like the movie. The concept is that the scope of the film is limited entirely to what this small group of people experience and record during a standard monster attack. The downside with this kind of format is that you may be a little disappointed at the lack of explanation and general backstory. The movie never actually explains what the monster is, or why it’s attacking Manhattan. When I have to dive into the "expanded universe" of a movie to find out what the hell it was about, it's irritating, and brings me great shame that I even know what an "expanded universe" is. I will admit that at the end of the movie it's probably a good thing that I want to learn more about its monster, rather than be completely sick of him. As I think about it, an Origins style movie, where Christian Bale plays a young monster out to seek revenge upon the city that killed his parents would be pretty sweet. All things considered, I guess I liked the film. Once the action starts, it doesn’t really let up until the closing credits, at which point it does let up, and words start to scroll by. Which is pretty normal. I don’t know why I mentioned it.
Vantage Point AKA: “The President’s Chest Has Been Shot.” The guy next to me was watching this while I was watching Cloverfield, and it reminded me that I had a vague “not wanting to spend any of my own money on it” interest in seeing it, so on my flight home I dialed this in. Dennis Quaid stars at Quennis Daid (I didn’t take very good notes) a Secret Service agent who not only has a dark past, but is also a nervous wreck and loose cannon, who protects presidents by his own rules, because it’s the only thing he’s good at. This is another concept movie. The deal with this film is that the president gets shot in front of several thousand witnesses, but they all see different things. So the movie keeps replaying the events of the day from another character's perspective until we see the whole story. It’s a neat premise, even if it is based on the idea that the president would give a speech in front of a crowd of 40000 Spaniards. Given that in the last few years the president hasn’t appeared in front of more than a couple dozen extremely wealthy, extremely white people at a time, this seems like a bit of a stretch. My big beef with this kind of movie is that it’s based on not revealing things to the viewers when they happen. This kind of plotting can work, but it’s really important for the script to not jerk the viewer around while doing so. And this movie fails that particular sniff test: about thirty times during its 90 minute run time, a character sees something of interest while watching video of the assassination, but we don’t get to see what they're looking at, and won’t for another hour or more. "Hey, fuck you!" I say at the screen when this happens, earning some stern looks from the mother of two young children sitting in front of me. There’s also Forrest Whittaker who plays a magical black man, whose power is being the most kind-hearted and helpful person in the history of cinema. I am not shitting you. He's going around dazzled by the quaint Europey buildings, and talking in Spanish with the locals, and helping little girls, and aiding the police. Like a character in another movie I watched today, he feels the compulsive need to film everything he sees, often sprinting for several blocks to film something he finds particularly interesting. Pleasant, speaks the language, and an excellent jogger: someone needs to straighten out central casting on their definition of "American Tourist." So it's got its flaws. But it was perfect for an airplane movie, because everything is spelled out for the viewer with no critical thinking or analysis required. It's kind of like "Memento" with training wheels. Also, it had a pretty good car chase through the streets of downtown Spain , which I enjoyed.
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