January 30, 2008

"There Will Be Blood" (4.75/5) Roundtable Interview Extravaganza -Three Geek Review

Last Friday, The Geeks saw "There Will Be Blood," Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of the Upton Sinclair book "Oil!"
The next day Thad brought out his tape recorder and the three of them sat down and discussed the movie. This is what transpired.

"There Will Be Blood" (4.75/5) Roundtable Interview Extravaganza -Three Geek Review

- CAST -

The Geeks:

Jeremiah Sherman (JS)
Richard Kloiber (RK)
Thaddeus Stoklasa (TS)

Also Featuring:

Dustin Blakeman (DB)
Eric Johnson (EJ)
Hank McCoy the Cat (HM)

(General, introductory ruckus)

TS: So, we went to a movie.

JS: Yes. It was physically and emotionally exhausting.

TS: That's a good place to start. I would highly recommend that everyone possible see this movie, but eat a meal beforehand or something.

JS: Eat a meal, be sure you're well-rested.

TS: Don't go into this at the end of a long day.

EJ: As you two know, how hard is it to get me to go to the movies?

TS: Fuck you.

EJ: I saw this movie twice, bitches.

JS: You didn't even go to the actual movie.

EJ: (Over 'movie') I saw it twice.

JS: You saw it on your little, piddly-ass television over there.

EJ: I watched it twice!

TS: I can see the transcript now. "Eric says stuff" we'll just have a big, blacked-out part.

EJ: It's the real, "Remove Garfield's talking, you only see Jon's."

TS: You are like a --

DB: (from basement) I think it reads more like a government document_ (Eric laughs.)

TS: Oh wait, how do you black things out if the background's black, do I have to white it out?

JS: Oh yeah, my mom complained about that.

TS: Kloiber hasn't said anything yet.

RK: I've heard a few complaints about that; those people are dumb or have crappy monitors.

JS: Yes.

TS: Okay, aside from bitching about the few people who deign to read our site, how about we... (Jeremiah laughs) How about we...

EJ: That's me.

RK: This movie is a downer.

JS: Oh yeah, it's a hell of a downer.

TS: But I love downers!

EJ: I love uppers.

JS: I mean --

RK: Eric! We will banish you to your room!

TS: No! We'll never get him out again.

JS: The movie is basically focused on greed and piousness and the downfall of -- what being focused solely on those two emotions can slowly do to you.

RK: I'm gonna go ahead and add, it is also -- as much as I hate the term -- about selling out your beliefs.

JS: Oh, yeah. It is about... exactly what you were saying.

TS: Yeah, that's solid. I like that. I gotta say -- what was it we said before? -- the one big complaint is the kind of weird transitions it has.

JS: I didn't mind that so much; as much as you did.

TS: It wasn't so much that I minded, but it was the one thing one thing that stuck out as -- well the sound cue, in the beginning, kind of freaked me out but I got used to that.

RK: I liked that choice.

JS: Yeah. I liked the whole, almost like a horror movie --

TS: It was! It was like a slasher-sound thing goin' on.

RK: Although I will say, I didn't think the first scene needed to be in the movie.

JS: Really?

RK: No.

TS: The, uh... the silver mine?

RK: Yeah. It didn't set anything up...

JS: I think the beginning shows just the pure dedication he has to the greed. Just the type of man that he is.

TS: Because it actually started where the story started, as opposed to starting where was most interesting?

JS: Yeah. It started, basically -- we saw this character start to build up, from ground zero. The only thing he could do more than that would be starting at childhood, which would be just a little...

TS: Yeah.

JS: They started at the point in his life when he gave into his competitiveness.

TS: They started at the beginning of the road that you follow through the movie.

JS: Right.

TS: I could see that.

JS: It's a flawed movie, but I don't know what I would change about it. And the only argument is to make it shorter, but even then... there was no one moment where I wasn't enjoying it.

RK: It doesn't need to be shorter.

TS: No. I always find short movies to be criminal. But that, that's a me thing.

JS: Beautifully shot. Gorgeous cinematography. Just the landscape alone, the oil rig catching on fire.

TS: That was fantastic.

JS: Or the shot of Daniel Day-Lewis sitting in front of the burning oil rig, setting the dynamite.

RK: Him looking off into the ocean.

TS: Daniel Day-Lewis is a frighteningly good actor.

TS: It's what you were saying before, about making everything happen to the audience. That's why it's such a visceral experience.

JS: Yeah, it makes it a visceral experience.

TS: I love that word and I'm gonna end up using it to much in everything I write, forever.

JS: That's what movies should strive to do. That's why I made that reference last night, how it's like an American Herzog movie. Herzog movies tend to be visceral experiences.

TS: Yeah. And that is so important. People need to engage the audience.

JS: Yeah.

TS: Otherwise, y'know... I could see any movie.

JS: I will say that for a man who is not even 30 yet (according to Wikipedia, he is over 30), I believe -- Paul Thomas Anderson -- this being his fourth film, this is fantastic.

TS: How often does he come out with films?

RK: Every couple years.

JS: "Punch Drunk Love," if I can find it... came out in... 2002.

TS: Hold on. (snags the DVD from Jeremiah) That's goin' home with me.

JS: How about "Magnolia"?

TS: Probably that, too. I got a week, and I don't have a job.

RK: "Hard Eight."

JS: "Hard Eight" came out, ooh... early '90s (1996)?

RK: I'm guessing he's older than 30. I'm betting he's 35.

JS: That's still pretty incredible.

TS: You wanna put some money down on that?

JS: No, 'cause we don't have any money to bet.

TS: Exactly! Uhm... so give us money, viewers.

RK: I -- I said this last night --

TS: We'll take your word on that.

RK: This is a Faustian tale.

JS: I would agree totally.

RK: They don't actually sell their souls to the devil, but they do sell their souls whether they realize it or not.

JS: Well, one could make the argument that the devil was oil.

RK: Yeah.

JS: And they did sell their souls for the oil. Y'see, my two favorite emotions that movies deal with -- well, my first favorite is love. My second favorite is greed, and greed is really just the negative derivative of love. Greed is corrupt love.

TS: Yeah, it's loving yourself and your own success.

JS: That very much is a corrupt form of love. It takes the idea of love and puts in the dirty aspects of selfishness, obsessiveness...

TS: Bizarro Love.

JS: Yes. Exactly. For the comic book fans, Bizarro Love would be the perfect example of greed. But yeah, this movie is almost about 100% pure greed, and will make you uncomfortable. But in the best way.

TS: Oh, yeah.

JS: I haven't felt this breathless since "Grindhouse."

TS: But for entirely different reasons.

JS: For entirely different reasons.

TS: I think this is one of those movie that people have to see in the theater.

JS: Oh yeah, most definitely. Looking at someone else's way.

RK: It's a horror movie, without being one.

TS: It's sort of about the horror of humanity.

JS: Yeah.

RK: What Paul Thomas Anderson does to the audience, they do in slasher films. You are afraid for these characters, you feel it in the pit of your stomach...

TS: In a good one. Otherwise, you just want them to die.

RK: One thing I want to put in the review -- Upton Sinclair was a master of social commentary.

JS: Yes!

RK: Just amazing. The fact that he wrote a book that changed a nation with "The Jungle," and the way we get our food. And, in a way, if oil were as big of a deal back then as it is now, it might have changed the oil industry.

JS: Well, from what I understand, he (Anderson) substantially drew upon the book, like he took the idea from the book, and then made his own story. Apparently it's so widely different, you could read the book and watch the movie and get two different stories. But Upton Sinclain apparently took copies of ["Oil!"] and mailed them to Senators and Congressmen.

TS: Nice.

JS: I put this in my "Punch Drunk Love" review, that Paul Thomas Anderson likes to use music that almost goes against what he's filming. Like "Punch Drunk Love" has that very suspenseful type of music until the song comes on. There's the little clicking sounds and everything. It's very intense for the little things, like Adam Sandler coming out of his shell just a little bit.

RK: Same with "Magnolia."

JS: "Magnolia" is exactly the same way. He is, of the directors working today, one of the top five people who knows how to use music.

RK: At the same time, it doesn't stop at music... the cinematography. In the opening scene, when Daniel's going down the silver mine and that music is playing, he pans out across the western landscape for what seems like an eternity in the theater. And it bust builds the tension.

JS: In all of his movies he has a very panoramic view, even if it takes place in the city or something, he's very good at giving you this larger-than-life --

TS: Showing you the world.

JS: Yeah. And another trademark he has is that the camera almost never stops moving. But it's not a shaky-cam, it's smooth.

TS: Organic camera.

JS: Yeah. Even when they're talking the camera keeps moving, but it's a smooth transition, you barely even notice it.

TS: No, I didn't notice it. I guess you're right.

EJ: You're dealing a different breed in Sherman, Thad.

TS: Sherman's a pro.

JS: And, uh --

TS: That's getting cut too, by the way.

HM: (Meows.)

EJ: As is the Hank-squeak.

JS: No, the Hank-squeak should be left in there.

EJ: "Sherman's a pro. Squeak."

JS: Go ahead, Kloiber.

RK: Generally, a lot of music in a film is there to be ambient.

JS: Right.

RK: I do not believe that is the case with Paul Thomas Anderson.

JS: No he uses it to make his films like a living, breathing thing. It's like, for him it's the pulse of the movie.

TS: It's not there just because you're supposed to have music in a movie.

JS: Right.

TS: Which is good.

JS: Uhm... I think now that we've gone on about cinematography, music and Paul Thomas Anderson: Daniel Day-Lewis.

RK: Oh, my god!

EJ: I was gonna add one more thing. You realize the music for that movie was done by Jonny Greenwood?

JS: Yes! Kloiber pointed that out.

TS: (same time as above) Yeah, Kloiber pointed that out.

EJ: I knew that going into the movie, so I'm expecting like acoustic whatever. Which, I mean, as Mark will frequently point out: "Oh well, I mean it's easy to orchestrate stuff for strings if you play guitar, 'cause you're like 'this is gonna be the chord they're playing,'" but no! What he's doing in that movie, I'm like: "I... Wow!" That's all I wanted to add in.

JS: Daniel Day-Lewis, from what I understand, he hasn't said this, but a lot of people are basing his performance, like it's inspired by John Huston, the actor/director, which I can kinda see... but this performance is fantastic. I don't care if it's inspired from anyone.

RK: One thing I want to say, which I'm afraid is going to be overlooked by mass audiences: I do not know his name, the guy who played Eli --

JS: Paul Dano.

EJ: Paul Dano.

JS: He's the brother from "Little Miss Sunshine."

RK: And it's one of those things where I also am afraid that people are going to bash on his performance because his character was annoying. You wanted to hate his character, but it's... just because you don't like the character doesn't mean...

TS: Well that means he's doing a good job.

RK: I want to make sure that is known. This was an incredible, Oscar-worthy performance by both Dano and Day-Lewis.

JS: It was focused on two people, but everyone did a solid job.

TS: No one caused any damage to this picture. No one was able to deflate this.

RK: Paul Thomas Anderson does an amazing job using children in films.

JS: Oh yeah. His children are hardly ever annoying.

RK: Uh... this isn't the typical Dakota Fanning screaming or... oh, the kid from Star Wars.

JS: Oh!

EJ: Ja... Jake-something.

JS: Jake-something, but let's not even deem...

EJ: Don't give -- don't empower that child by invoking his name!

JS: I know the name but I WILL NOT SAY IT!

EJ: Say it two more time, he will appear! ... No, that's Beetlejuice.

JS: They could be one in the same thing!

TS: I thought Beetlejuice was Batman.

JS: Okay, let me say this --

EJ: Yeah, we're done.

JS: The kid who played Anakin was NOT fucking Batman! I want that to stay in the translation.

TS: Everything else will be gone. That line will be there.

JS: I want that to be UNDERSTOOD!

TS: Right.

EJ: I concur.

JS: With the clarity of glass!

TS: Maybe we need to come up with a side-site just with quotes that are on the cutting-room floor.

JS: Okay. So the acting was wonderful, cinematography was wonderful and really... we all say it's not perfect, but we can't figure out what we would change other than Kloiber believes the beginning could be shortened.

RK: Uh... no. I believe it could be clarified.

JS: Clarified. Okay.

RK: I still, even though there were some pretty obvious times, like the name-signing, couldn't tell that it was Daniel.

TS: Yeah.

RK: It doesn't do a good enough job explaining how he got into the oil business, what he found.

JS: M'kay. So, what would you give this movie?

RK: 4.25.

EJ: Out of what?

RK: 5.

EJ: Okay. It helps if you mention what the rating is up to. "I give it a 37." "Out of what?" "12."

TS: Yeah, but we know.

RK: If you read our blog, you'd know that that's what we judge things by. It's like if I said, "I give it two thumbs up." "Out of how many thumbs?" "Well, you only have two thumbs."

EJ: There were two reviewers doing it, there were four. BAM!

JS: (laughing) I'm sorry, but that was brilliant.

TS: That was good.

JS: What about you, Thad?

TS: Well I, uh... I'm a giver. I've got a lot of love to give because I don't like people, as a rule. So I would probably give it a 5, because... I liked that movie a lot.

JS: I will have to give it a 5 also, because --

TS: You and I... people are gonna be like, "Oh, they just like everything! These guys are assholes!"

JS: "I like Kloiber, he's the reasonable one."

TS: "Kloiber's hardcore!"

RK: Yeah, but Thad can actually write, which we can't say.

TS: Aw, c'mon...

JS: But --

TS: No, really. Keep going.

JS: So, Thad's a douche.

TS: Is this news?

JS: I'm giving it a 5 as well. Breathtaking.

TS: Yeah, like physically.

JS: Yeah.

TS: People want to bandy that word about --

JS: Let me just also point out: people left during this movie. In my mind, that's how good it is. People left.

TS: I wasn't even watching the audience.

RK: Three people left, that I saw.

TS: I know the annoying woman sitting next to me left and came back.

RK: There were three people that left the theater and never came back.

TS: When did they leave?

JS: One was after one of the times someone got hit by -- there were at least three or four at he well when people get hit by lumber or something.

TS: Oh, yeah. With the drill-thing.

RK: I saw a woman leave during the scene with the son and the train.

TS: Okay. Wow, that's not what I was expecting.

JS: I think what it is is that a lot of people were expecting something faster, I don't know.

TS: People don't like pacing.

JS: They don't like slow, they don't like drawn-out.

TS: They don't like different paces; people like manic.

JS: Which is odd, because a lot of people complained to me that they thought "Cloverfield" was too short. And I know their complaint would be, "This movie's too long."

RK: I've also heard that they're already writing "Cloverfield 2."

TS: Boo! I loved the movie, but I don't think it needs a sequel. I loved "Star Wars," but I don't think they needed three more.

RK: I think we'll need to move these to different places. One: the blood that the title mentions is not literal blood, it's the blood of Christ.

JS: Yes.

RK: Two: I generally don't like this type of movie: the really tense -- I felt like I was going to have a heart attack the entire movie. It was still amazing, I think everyone else should see it and I'm glad I saw it. It will never be a movie I'll be able to just sit down and watch. I will need to prepare for it.

JS: We have anything else? This could be it.

TS: I'm good with it. (Richard nods)


And then they taunt the cat for a bit, trying to get him to speak.

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January 25, 2008

"Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" DVD Review (5/5) -Thaddeus

I spend most of my life surrounded by human beings and, as far as my reports seem to indicate, so do the rest of you. It's not an uncommon occurrence. As a race, we're fairly prolific all across the skin of this particular planet. And honestly, I don't know how you manage to sleep at night knowing who has their finger on The Button.

And that's not a shot, by the way. I wouldn't trust anyone with their finger on, around or otherwise near The Button. The biggest flaw of the military machine is that it's built of human parts.

Seriously, have you seen "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb?" Odds are you have. But today was my first venture...

Yeah, I know: "How can you call yourself any kind of movie guy if you haven’t blah-blah, etc.?"
Get past it.

When "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (heretofore referred to as something shorter much than that) was first mentioned to me, I recall it being described as a black comedy. If that isn't the perfect fit, I don't know what is. It elicits two equally visceral yet totally opposite emotional responses from anyone packing a pulse and a functioning brain: amusement coupled with stomach-wrenching unease.

It's a quality that military satires bring by the barrow. Read "Catch 22" sometime. Oh sure, I could say: "Watch the movie." I mean, this is a movie blog, right? And "Catch 22" is a classic all its own...

Read the damn book!

It's a combination of emotions that we're not confronted with often enough. The humor is absolutely real; just as real as the fear. And such is the world.

But I haven't said anything on the actual film yet.

"Dr. Strangelove" is the Cold War gone hot. A crazed general (Sterling Hayden) sets an emergency nuclear attack plan in motion, locks down his base and basically sends the world on a slow boat to total annihilation for no particular -- or at least particularly good -- reason, while espousing his cracked perspective to his British Executive Officer (Peter Sellers) who desperately tries to talk him down.

In the War Room of the Pentagon, the President (Peter Sellers) and his advisers scramble for solutions. All the while, we follow one of the B-52 bombers, and its crew, as it sails steadily to target.

There are so many great performances in this film that I fear for the length of this review. People steal scenes from each other left and right. Sellers, as the President and the eponymous Dr. Strangelove, vies for screen time against George C. Scott's raucous General Turgidson. Meanwhile, Sellers as Group Captain Lionel Mandrake bears witness to the uncompromising paranoia of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper as brought to striking life by Sterling Hayden.

And let's not forget Maj. T.J. 'King' Kong (Slim Pickens) and his iconic exit from the film.

The world of the film is dark, cramped and uncomfortable. We’re trapped, as the characters are trapped: in Ripper’s office, in the War room, in the cockpit of the bomber; surrounded on all sides by men who supposedly have all the power in the world, but lack any ability to control it.

Director, co-writer, producer and all-around wunderkind Stanley Kubrick crafted a truly unforgettable film in "Dr. Strangelove." It's as relevant now as it was when it was released, if not more so. I wonder what that says about us?

I'm honestly embarrassed that I waited this long to see it.

So don't be like me; I've got that covered.

5 out of 5

-Thad out

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January 22, 2008

"Charlie Wilson's War" Theatrical Review (5/5) -Richard

If Joss Whedon is Jesus Christ, that makes Aaron Sorkin God.

Charlie Wilson's war is the Cold War, specifically on the Afghani front. A Democrat Representative out of Texas, Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks), is a womanizer, a drunk, and seems to enjoy partaking in a little cocaine now and then. At a fundraiser, Charlie is approached by a Texas conservative debutante Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) and told that he needs to do something about the Godless commies that are trying to control Afghanistan if he wants to continue receiving her monetary support.

Meanwhile, CIA agent Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) gets reprimanded in his boss's office and is assigned to the CIA's task force on Afghanistan.

Once the three meet up a plan is hatched to smuggle weapons through Israel and Saudi Arabia into Afghanistan to combat the Russian Communists. A 10 million dollar budget turns into 20, then 50, and keeps on growing until the Afghanis are sufficiently armed to deal with their aggressors.

Everyone knows how the Cold War turned out. Sorkin's adaptation of George Crile's journalistic book of the same name coupled with Mike Nichols' direction just helps us to see how we got there.

Sorkin is at his best when writing politically charged storylines. I enjoyed his television work with "Sports Night" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," but his best work in my eyes will always be "The West Wing." "Charlie Wilson's War" is a return to that style of storytelling. Mike Nichols at the helm helped raise the bar to a damn near perfect movie as well. He seems to be the only person that can make Julia Roberts act. He manages to take a mediocre actress and make her turn in an Oscar worthy performance.

Hanks also shines in the movie, taking the comedy from his earlier works such as "The 'burbs" and "Bachelor Party" and mixing it with the drama portrayed in "Philadelphia" and "The Green Mile" to create a perfect mix of character.

Other cast members turned in award worthy performances as well. Amy Adams as Charlie's assistant Bonnie Batch is one of the reasons she is rocketing to stardom this year. Ned Beatty is also great the little he is on screen as Representative Doc Long. Still, every performance in this movie, even Tom Hanks', is overshadowed by Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gust Avrakotos.

The last thing I had seen him in prior to this was his portrayal of the mild-mannered author Truman Capote. Hoffman pulled off a stunning, Oscar worthy performance in the movie. Seeing him switch gears to play the drunken, belligerent CIA agent Avrakotos was an amazing sight to see. From his entrance into his boss's office to his speech to Charlie at the end of the movie, Hoffman gives a perfect performance.

I know it is only January, but this may be one of the best movies of the year.

5 out of 5


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January 21, 2008

"Cloverfield" Theatrical Review (4.2/5) -Three Geek Review

There's a short list of images that come to mind when people start talkin' giant monster movies: Godzilla wading through Tokyo, Mothra and its miniature twins, and King Kong swatting airplanes from the top of the Empire State Building. The cult classics, the conventions and the unending remakes... it's a tapped out genre, right?

Wrong. And shut up.

"Cloverfield" is destined to stand out from the pack of samey, radioactive rehashes pitched at the screen since the mid '50s. The broader premise of "giant monster attacks New York" is given a beautifully narrow frame of reference: a hand-held camera held in the hands of a regular guy.

T.J. Miller's solid portrayal of Hud, the man behind the camera, is at the heart of what makes this movie work. It's funny how the best character by far has the least screen time, Hud himself being shown for maybe 30 seconds. Then again, we are looking through his eyes for nearly the length of the film so, in a way, he's ever present.

There certainly are contrivances to deal with. Main man Rob (Michael Stahl-David) running headlong through a war zone to save the girl of his dreams (Odette Yustman), regardless of the unprecedented danger posed by a nightmarish hulk knocking buildings down left and right, is about as melodramatic an idea as you can get. But I was so engrossed by the film that this kind of thing pops up merely as a begrudging afterthought.

The presentation is slick beyond belief. The destruction and the violence are grimly realistic, and always from the normal human point of view. Snips of honest, modern mannerism pop up as we watch people whip out camera phones to record the carnage. And there are the back-story moments woven in at the party or in the snippets of tape that the movie was recorded over. It feels like we're looking at the real world, the real lives of these people, as trampled by an unstoppable colossus.

Not only do I hope that "Cloverfield" will be let past the velvet rope and allowed to sit at the Genre Classics table with all the rest, but I also want it to become the new standard. Not the shaky-cam, man-on-the-street angle specifically so much as the freshness and personality. This movie stands as proof, if you didn't know this already, that there are always new ways to approach an idea.

Audiences haven't been given the opportunity to be honestly freaked out by a giant monster movie in 60 years. This is something you shouldn't miss out on.

4.5 out of 5

-Thad out.

Finally, a shaky-cam movie that I can recommend without reservation. Finally an honest-to-God monster movie, not some slasher or demented madman who likes to torture college kids. Hell probably the best American monster movie for quite some time.

"Cloverfield" is an intense, low budget, hand-held camera experience of a movie. For a movie with a budget around $30,000,000 it looks surprisingly low budget. The money apparently went into the sets and the monster. The sets are gorgeous. Especially one particular scene involving two towering apartment buildings.

The editing is fantastic as well. It's not often I'm amazed by the shaky-cam, but this time I was. It lent an air of authenticity to the the film.

There is one scene in a tunnel, where the camera turns and stares down the blackness. Finally a movie that realizes that we can still be scared by the dark. Then a character utters the line, "Turn on the night vision." A line that anyone with a Level 2 Knowledge of Movies should reply with, "Yeah YOU do that, I'm hauling ass."

Also this movie should be seen in THX 5.1 Surround Kloiber. This movie was intense, but was made more so by my fellow reviewer and friend. We get a glimpse of the monster and suddenly all of Richard's limbs shoot straight out. It gave the movie a heighten sense of danger, knowing at any moment Kloiber would probably maim me by accident.

The directing by Matt Reeves, was far and above anything I was expecting. The whole movie had an air of realism, it had moments where you could tell this was a movie, but you didn't mind. The writing by Drew Goddard (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly) was fantastic. It was so good that I suspect there may have been improv. If there was none, then he has an ear for naturalistic dialogue that rivals John Cassavettes.

4.5 out of 5

See this movie. You won't be sorry.

Yours Until Hell Freezes Over,


"Cloverfield" is the kind of movie you don't know what to expect going into. J.J. Abrams' track record is a bit hit or miss for me. I never got into "Lost" or "Alias," and his movies tend to be misses. Also frightening was Matt Reeves as the Director, who seems to have made a career directing failed television pilots and the movie the "Pallbearer," another Abrams project. I was relieved to see Drew Goddard, who wrote for television's "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." I was afraid going into this is was going to be "Blair Witch" mixed in with Ed Wood films. By the first five minutes, after the action started, I knew that was not the case.

J.J. Abrams' monster movie "Cloverfield" defies convention. The entire movie is shot in the style of a handicam, and a lot of the shots seem amateurish on purpose. The suspension of disbelief that Hud, the film's cameraman, is actually filming the destruction of New York is not hard to buy. Other, less conventional technical elements worked as well, such as the lack of music.

What I enjoyed the most though, was the fresh look at main characters in a monster movie. There was no Mathew Brodrick telling me about Godzilla Babies, nor a crazy military guy hell bent on the thing's capture. There were only kids at a party when the shit starts to go down.

Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) is moving to Japan. His brother Jason (Mike Vogel) and his Jason's girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas) throw him a surprise party the night before he leaves. Jason suckers Hud (T.J. Miller) into filming testimonials and awkwardly flirting with Marlena. (Lizzy Caplan) Shortly after this, Rob's pseudo-love interest/friend Beth (Odetta Yustman) shows up with another guy, prompting an argument with Rob. She leaves and he sulks. Jason and Hud step out to cheer him up. And then a monster attacks.

Most of the cast does a decent if forgettable job. The plot defies so many monster movies, but falls trap to a few horror cliches. Rob wants to save Beth, no one else thinks it is a good idea, Rob says he is going anyway, everyone goes with him. Repeat this for an hour and you have most of the movie. That being said T. J. Miller really stands out. His portrayal of Hud is brilliant. It doesn't matter if he is faced with a life or death situation or just relaxing with his friends, Hud comes up with the best one liners to lighten the mood or get the group out of a panic.

Overall, "Cloverfield" does wonders for the giant monster genre, but is not as groundbreaking as some people will tell you.

3.5 out of 5


threegeekreview's overall score: 4.2 out of 5

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January 18, 2008

Site News-We go live 01/21/08

Well Monday is the big day, our first review as the Three Geeks. Thad, Sherman and I have been throwing this concept around for about 6 months now, but never got off our asses to do anything about it until last night, January 18th.

Tonight we watch Cloverfield, which I feel with be a great choice for the Maiden voyage of the reviews. I cannot speak for everyone here at Three Geek, but I have been anticipating (and fearing) this movie for quite some time. J.J. Abrams is supposed to be some kind of Entertainment God, but I have mixed feelings about the guy. Sure he gave us Lost, and Alias has quite the following, but we have him to thank for some crap like The Pallbearer and Armageddon.

Hopefully Cloverfield lives up to the Hype, but the possibility that it will not is the main reason I suggested it to the other 2, less portly geeks as the first. I don't want three guys sitting around hating or fellating a movie, I want debate.


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