So yeah I bought into the hype machine and saw Cloverfield. It's really not that bad, I mean it's nothing spectacular in the realm of monster movies but it holds up pretty well considering the entire film is from a single point of view.

But you know, really could have used more monster. Lots of glimpses and destruction and stuff blowing up. But even the "good look" at the beast wasn't that good of a look. And after all the hoopla of what it would look like (honestly I can't believe I didn't see it beforehand, and I sure looked for it!), It was just okay. Storywise its very straightforward, by the numbers. Hits all the action movie beats, no switcheroos, no fake-outs, and that was a bit of a letdown considering all of the secrecy involved. The folks I saw it with were generally entertained but we surprisingly came up with the same idea for a way cooler ending. And -no- science whatsoever. No explanation of what, how, why, nothing. Me, I really like the sci in my sci-fi. Can't I get a little sumptin' sumptin'?

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I felt the movie had a heavy overtone of dread. Not even sure why, maybe because the deaths are both on the mass scale and the up-close and personal. Outside of the plot of random and wanton destruction, I don't know if there was a metaphor involved or if there was I'm not thinking enough to make the connection. The handheld camera viewpoint leads to some intense scenes where the military lets go full bore, as a viewer this is impressive and even jarring. It's so close up and loud, one can only wonder what actual modern warzone life is like, no doubt terrifying outside of the realms of fiction. Coupled with the no-win scenario omnipresent through the course of the film and held to the very end, it's definitely not the feel-good film of the new year. I know that's a strange thing to say about a monster movie, but Cloverfield is not an average movie in many ways. Does that make it better? Not sure... even with the hook of the single camera and personal POV, there are definitely some areas of story that could have been stronger to make a crazy-awesome monster flic instead of just an eyebrow raiser.

In the end I wish the monster really did look like this.


The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I must say I loved the first two episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox. It is a bit like fanfic gone wild, set in an alternate history which takes place directly after Terminator 2: Judgement Day but upsets the introduction of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Now I wasn't expecting much to begin with, so I was pleasingly assuaged when the beats I define as keen to Terminator canon were hit repeatedly. These include:
  • Hard-as-nails Sarah Connor
  • Random, instant violence
  • Heavy ammunition usage
  • Terminators hit by cars
  • Exceptionally high imbalance of body-to-drywall ratio

While she does know how to kick ass and take names, TV's Sarah Connor played by Lena Heady is quite a bit more accessible than her movie counterpart Linda Hamilton. In T2, Hamilton is freaking amazing as a detached, single-minded lioness who will stop at nothing to protect her son. That transformation from the original movie's terrified damsel on the run is a thrill to behold and one of the anchors of what makes T2 so great. Hamilton's Connor outright personifies someone you do not want to fuck with.

Here in television where the titular character must be sustained for presumably much longer storylines, I understand the choice to take a less intense direction. Luckily Headly appears to play the balance well, and still keeps the thick skin and unflinching trigger finger.

Not surprisingly John Connor plays a big role, as well as his new Termanatrix protector (aptly done, if expected, by Summer Glau). Model number as yet unidentified... though there seem to be plenty of T-800's around.

The alternate timeline takes a little getting used to, I really enjoyed T3 and its striking resolution. Judgement Day cannot be stopped, it is inevitable in the Terminator storyline. Chronicles may not stop it but has certainly postponed it, and it will be interesting to see how much they play around with chronology or if the third film is even referenced at all. Not to mention the fourth film in the works! In its first episode the show has brought time travel into play, which I love, but we've yet to see if it will be overdone as paradox piles onto paradox. I hope the series either stays strong or stays brief. Heroes was a big let down by the end of the first season, and I can barely bring myself to mention the dashed hopes of Bionic Woman. I hope Chronicles keeps itself on a tight leash.

UPDATE: My new guilty pleasure, i09, picks up on the "kinder, gentler Sarah Connor," supposing and fearing it may lead to a downhill trend. And I gotta say that original pilot ending is kick ass compared to what aired. Keep your fingers crossed the character won't stray too far into that territory.