Posts Tagged ‘2008’

Iron Man (2008)

06/09/2011 1 comment

Hello, ladies. Look at Tony Stark. Now look at your man. Now back at Tony Stark. Does your man look like Tony Stark? No. Can he smell like Tony Stark? Well, maybe. Is your man the heir to one of the most lucrative weapons manufacturing industries in the world? Does your man have three summer homes and 26 expensive cars? Look down. Look up. Where are you now? You’re at a party, with the superhero your man could smell like. Anything is possible with Tony Stark.

Iron Man is a superhero film directed by Jon Favreau, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name created by Stan Lee. It stars Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges.

Tony Stark is an engineering genius, rich playboy, and currently the head of Stark Industries, a military contracting company he inherited from his father. While his father’s old partner Obadiah Stane takes care of things stateside, Stark travels to Afghanistan to demonstrate the new Jericho missile, only to have his convoy attacked by terrorists on the way back to base. Stark is injured in the attack and taken hostage by a group called the Ten Rings, where he finds that a fellow hostage, Dr. Yinsen, has installed an electromagnet in his chest to prevent shrapnel from entering his heart and killing him. Raza, the leader of the Ten Rings, tells Stark that he can buy his freedom by building them a Jericho missile. Doubting Raza will keep his word, Stark instead builds a suit of powered armor that runs off an arc reactor he builds to power his electromagnet. During the course of his escape, Stark discovers the Ten Rings has weaponry built by Stark Industries. Shaken, he vows that Stark Industries will no longer manufacture weapons. However, he thinks his suit is neat and just needs refinement, so being a good little nerd he hacks away at the design in his workshop. When he discovers that more Stark Industries weapons have been delivered to Ten Rings, Stark realizes his new calling – to use his suit for good to atone for the destruction that Stark Industries has caused with its weaponry. Little does he suspect that someone close to him has other plans for his powered armor…

I will admit that when I first saw Iron Man, I wasn’t as familiar with this particular Marvel character as I was with, say, Spider-Man or the X-Men, and with most of these established characters there just too much continuity across too many alternate universes to justify trying to dredge up everything with their name on it. Fortunately, the movie offers a crash course in all things Tony Stark, and quickly gets the viewer up to speed, as befits a retelling of his origin story. He is at once arrogant and loveable, a charming rogue who had never needed to take any responsibility save publicity stunts and hobnobbing with the beautiful people. Fortunately, when reality slaps him across the face, he rises to the occasion, proving that under the fun-loving playboy lies a genuinely good heart. While the Ten Rings portion of the plot seemed to be banking on the Afghanistan War, the writing was tight enough that the terrorists never stumbled into Sterotype Land, making them seem like a genuine threat. Back on American soil, it was fun watching Stark’s personality simply bounce off the people around him, particularly in his interactions with his long-suffering assistant Pepper Potts, who acts in turns as a secretary, potential romantic interest, and mother figure to the wayward Tony. Their relationship is deeper than mere professionalism, but while they tease with romance nothing ever seems to come of it.

The story is exciting and action-packed, offering a first look into this budding superhero that never feels forced or artificial. Each event flowed naturally into the next, from the introduction of our disgustingly wealthy hero to his transition into a force for good, without sending him spiralling too far into brooding Batman Land. The plot was a lot of fun to watch, especially as he is tinkering with his original suit, trying to improve it, even as he tests of the various weapons and propulsion systems send him careening into walls. His first flight in the iconic red and gold suit offers shades of Icarus’ first flight; Stark enjoys the hell out of his newfound freedom, even as he learns about the suit’s critical weakness (which, like Icarus, he discovers by trying to fly a high as he can). Stark makes a fun, enjoyable superhero, in stark contrast to his DC counterpart Bruce Wayne. Iron Man fans will also notice a lot of nods to the various comics stories, like the proposed cover story that Iron Man is a bodyguard to Tony Stark, as well as early warning signs of his alcoholism.

Whether you’re a longtime reader of the Iron Man comics or a newcomer who really digs superheroes, I highly recommend Iron Man. Tony Stark offers a fun-loving superhero to the mix that you wouldn’t mind partying with, in between him saving the city.


Vantage Point (2008)

06/08/2011 1 comment

Eight strangers.
Eight points of view.
One truth.

Vantage Point is a political thriller action film directed by Pete Travis, adapted from a screenplay written by Barry Levy. It stars Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt.

A lot can happen in 23 minutes. Today, President Henry Ashton will be attending a political summit in Salambanca, Spain, to promote an international antiterrorism treaty. The summit is being attended by thousands of spectators and covered by the news crew of GNN, who are all eager to see and hear and record what Ashton has to say. However, as Ashton is about to speak, the summit suddenly explodes in a series of terrifying events as Ashton is shot by an unknown gunman, followed by a series of bombs being detonated, including one that takes out much of the staging area for the summit, leaving hundreds injured and dead. After this shocking event, the movie takes you back through the past 23 minutes several times, each from the point of view of eight different strangers, and each time the viewer learns more of the story and finds more pieces to the puzzle, until the full extent of the conspiracy is revealed at last.

I generally enjoy unconventional storytelling methods. The Rashomon style has long fascinated me, and in this case, rather than each witness providing a subjective interpretation of the events, each witness simply sees different parts of the overall story. Going over and over the same span of 23 minutes might seem like it would get repetitive after the first three iterations, but I found this treatment of the multiple-witnesses convention remained engaging throughout as the plot unfolds, with each 23-minute span offering different viewpoints of the same events. What seems like a simple setup turns into a complex series of interweaving events that ultimately spiral towards the climax in unpredictable ways.

In the course of exploring these different perspectives, we also learn a lot about the witnesses themselves: Rex Brooks, whose job is to offer as complete a picture as she can to the television public while keeping things interesting; Thomas Barnes, a burned-out secret service agent who once saved the President from a gunman and whose primary goal is still to defend him from any threat, even as he doubts his ability to do so; Enrique, who is assigned to guard the mayor of Salambanca and finds himself swept up in the terrorist attack; President Ashton himself, who must weigh his own safety against that of the country he leads; Howard Lewis, a tourist just out to videotape the rally but forced to become a hero under unlikely circumstances; and a little girl named Anna, who is attending the political summit with her mother and finds herself an unwitting witness to several key events, only to get separated from her mother as the terror unfolds. While each witness does offer his or her own spin to the events, you also come to care what happens to them as their respective stories interweave with the overall plot, offering several worm’s-eye views of this chain reaction that will ultimately have long-reaching consequences for all of them.

While some may tire of the repeated views of the same span of 23 minutes from different angles, I found the exploration of the central event to be fascinating, and would recommend political thriller fans at least rent Vantage Point. It’s amazing how much things can change just by altering your perspective.

The Dark Knight (2008)

06/03/2011 2 comments

In 2005, after the sheer goofiness of Joel Schumacher’s tenure in Batman movies, a little-known director named Christopher Nolan decided to retool to Batverse through a more real-world lens. His contribution was called Batman Begins, and it happily left its recent predecessors in the dust. In 2008, he directed a sequel to this retool, featuring his own take on one of the best-known and most frightening Bat-villains ever: the Joker. How did he do? Let’s find out.

The Dark Knight is a superhero drama directed by Christopher Nolan, based on the DC Comics character Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. It stars Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckart, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Gotham’s criminal underworld is currently facing pressure from two fronts: on the one side, a bank that the mob uses for laundering money has just been robbed by a band of hood led by a mysterious figure called the Joker. On the other side, Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon have just recruited idealistic district attorney Harvey Dent to dismantle the mob through legal channels. When their accountant, Lau, reveals that he has hidden their money and fled to Hong Kong to pre-empt the D.A.’s plan, the Joker crashes the meeting, offering to kill Batman for the simple fee of half their funds. Nothing happening, they say. Kill the Joker, they say. Whatever, the Joker says. A little tip to all future mob bosses: if a complete psycho offers to show you a magic trick, SAY NO. It might not help, but at least you tried. Needless to say, nobody is likely to argue with a man that just jammed a pencil into their boss’s eye socket. However, the Joker’s motives, insofar as he has any, seem to be unrelated to money or power, and rather based on the theory that anyone can be corrupted, even the legendary Dark Knight himself. When he sets his sights on white knight Harvey Dent as an object lesson in this, things take a horrifying turn that has Batman questioning his own role in keeping the city safe…

Let me start out my saying that prettyboy Heath Ledger has managed to pull off the impossible: he can be scarier than Jack Nicholson. His portrayal of the Joker in this film was no sadistic clown with a circus shtick, no merry giggler with a fondness for deadly laughing gas and explosives. He as completely frapping out of his mind. He was chaos – a spanner in everyone’s works, determined to make everyone as psychotic as him, convinced that all it takes is one sufficiently bad day to make someone snap. He laughs because life and death and our insipid little rules of human interaction mean nothing to him. The Joker is the iconic villain of the Bat-mythos. He’s meant to be scary. He’s one of the reasons clowns are scary. He’s the villain we love to hate, but can’t kill because he’s just too damn awesome. Ledger absolutely nailed it – which kind of sucks in a way, in light of the actor’s death, because there is little hope that anyone could replace him as the Joker in the Nolanverse.

In a mild contrast to the Joker, Eckhart’s portrayal as the tragic, fallen paladin Harvey Dent/Two-Face works not on chaos but on law – but law can be just as unforgiving as chaos. The Two-Face effects were well-done – not cartoony and extreme like the Batman & Robin portrayal, but realistically disturbing, looking like he actually had his face dipped in flammable chemicals and set alight. (Incidentally, the effects guys were going to have the burns look more subdued and more realistic, but test audiences were literally getting sick in the theaters, so they said, “Screw it – dial up the burns all the way!”) It is easy to draw parallels between Dent’s fall and the tightrope that Batman walks every day: “Look at how hard he snapped; if I’m not careful that could be me.” While Dent walked in the sunlight, Bats walks in darkness, meaning that his tipping point is potentially both thinner and murkier – how far does he need to go to keep Gotham safe? How far is he willing to go to keep Gotham safe? How far can he go before Batman himself becomes a danger? Nolan’s multilayered portrayal of good and evil (and all the shades of gray in between) gives the Bat franchise a depth and complexity that hasn’t been seen in a while; you can’t always tell who the good guys and bad guys are. Under the right circumstances, they can be the same person.

If you enjoyed the gritty “real-world” vibe that Nolan has imparter to the Batverse, and you like your heroes flawed and your villains terrifyingly plausible, check out The Dark Knight. It deserves a place in any Batman fan’s movie collection.

Zombie Strippers! (2008)

04/12/2011 3 comments

They’ll dance for a fee, but devour you for free.

Apparently, some time ago director Jay Lee was challenged to come up with the most marketable movie title ever. The title he came up with was Zombie Strippers!, and the movie he wrote to go along with it is, er, about what you’d expect.

Zombie Strippers! is a B-grade zombie comedy written and directed by Jay Lee, and apparently inspired by Eugene Ionesco’s play Rhinoceros (… what?!). It stars Robert Englund, Jenna Jameson, Penny Drake, Roxy Saint, and Tito Ortiz

It is a dystopic near-future. How dystopic? George W. Bush is sitting his fourth term as president, alongside Vice President Arnold Schwartzenegger. The United States Congress has been disbanded. Public nudity has been outlawed. The United States is enbroiled in wars across about a third of the planet, and with more wars than they have soldiers to fight them, a secret laboratory has developed a virus to help keep the soldiers on their feet and still fighting even after death. The only trouble is that the virus completely destroys all higher brain functions of male infectees, turning them into mindless, flesh-hungry zombies. Female infectees (through a brief technobabble involving the X chromosome) retain their higher brain functions, turning them into intelligent, flesh-hungry zombies. They’re still working the kinks out, but don’t worry, the lab’s security is second to none, which of course means that there is a containment breach literally two minutes into the movie. An elite Z Squad of improbably good-looking soldiers (including a blonde woman in a bikini top and camo pants the whole time) are dispatched to neutralize the threat, only to discover that their intel on the zombies is slightly, uh, WRONG. In the resulting confusion, one of them named Birdflough (pronounced bird flu, in case you were wondering) is bitten, but escapes unnoticed to a building next door to the lab – which turns out to be an illegal strip club named Rhino, run by a germophobe named Ian Essco who has every reason not to call the authorities, even when Birdflough turns and bites the throat out of a dancer named Kat. Kat dies, but is reanimated by the virus and wants to dance. Essco, concerned about losing his star dancer but unconcerned by the fact that she still has a huge bite wound in her throat and blood all over, lets her. To his surprise, this new, uninhibited zombie stripper is a HUGE hit, and the other strippers find themselves losing customers to the revitalized Kat, and faced with a choice – become zombies to compete, or lose their jobs. The only real complication Essco sees is the zombie strippers’ tendency to eat their customers during private dances, turning them into mindless zombies, but no problem – stick them in the basement. Of course, it isn’t long before things reach critical mass, and the Z Squad is closing in looking for their infected squadmate…

Okay. It’s a movie entitled Zombie Strippers. If you’re looking for high art, go away. This movie has hot, frequently-naked women, the men who watch them strip, flesh-eating zombies, and Robert Englund. This is not even the sort of zombie film you watch for its deep social commentary, or because the zombie represent much of anything. It’s like Shaun of the Dead without all the deep philosophical discussion. There is blood. There is violence. There are bare tits. Sometimes all at once. There is no sex (THANK CHRIST) but there is an implied blowjob gone wrong (executed by a zombie stripper. You do the math), and many of the freshly zombified strippers don’t even bother to clean up before they go back on stage. The special effects are frequently decent but at times hilariously bad, but that’s okay because this movie doesn’t take itself very seriously anyway (see title).

That said, it does take great pains to set things up properly before hilarity ensues, knitting up any loose ends and plot holes with a conscientiousness that so often goes neglected in higher-budgeted films. Most of the girls are pretty hot (escept for matriarch Blavatsky, who seems to be channelling a drag queen’s impression of Natasha Fatale), and they make a token effort for character development by having the newcomer be a devout Christian who is only stripping to earn money for her Nana’s camcer treatment, and one of the more experienced girls reads and quotes the great philosophers. Robert Englund, whom horror buffs will recognize as the normal-looking guy under Freddy’s Krueger’s makeup, is twitchy and perverted and mind of annoying (his comeuppance is satisfying but REALLY GROSS), and Jenna Jameson should be familiar to those who will admit they watch porn as one of the staple actresses of that genre. Aside from those two, there are no big-name actors in this film that I could see, and nobody here would be seen in a production of Shakespeare anytime soon. This is a zombie movie. With strippers. Undead strippers. Like I said, if you pick up a movie like this looking for high arts, put it down and walk away. It’s just a fun romp with a kind of squicky twist on the zombie genre, but fans of the subgenre should have fun.

In the end, Zombie Strippers! was exactly what I expected it would be – mindless fun, exactly what a B-movie should be. Fans of zombie movies should enjoy it as long as they go in there with low expectations and just enjoy the ride. Good stupid fun, but skip the popcorn.

Jumper (2008)

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: Hayden Christensen can really act. That is, he can really act when he isn’t being directed to act like an angsty adolescent proto-Sith. (Sorry, Mr. Lucas, sometimes it’s just you.) Need proof? Here’s some proof.

Jumper is a sci fi action film directed by Doug Liman, loosely based on the novel of the same name by Steven Gould. It stars Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell, and Rachel Bilson.

Teenager David Rice has always dreamed of travelling. He gives a snow globe to his crush Millie to impress her, but bullying Mark takes it and throws it onto a frozen lake (no reason, just to be a dick). In the course of trying to retrieve it, David falls through the ice and discovers, under suitably Marvel-Comics circumstances, that he can teleport. Booyah. Now he can travel all he likes, which is great because his mom disappeared when he was five and left him under the care of an abusive father, but he’s going to need some cash to fund him travels. No problem, when you can just bamf into a bank vault… unfortunately, his shenanigans soon land him on the radar of one Roland Cox, a member of an organization of people called Paladins who hunt down and kill people like David, called Jumpers, who have the genetic ability to teleport. No real reason is given, aside from Rolands assertion that Jumpers always go bad, but no matter – Roland & Co. are very well-equipped to track down and contain Jumpers long enough to stab them with a meat cleaver. Or something. Now David finds himself trying to juggle three obligations: impress Millie (who has grown up nicely in the eight years he’s been Jumping), find out more about Jumping (with the help of a twitchy Scotsman who uses his abilities to Jump vehicles and smash treasured ruins), and stay one step ahead of the Paladins (who never really explain what is it that makes Jumpers go bad).

I had medium hopes for Jumper, to the extent that I figured it would be a nice little diversion – action packed, loaded with stunts and effects, and featuring lots of pretty scenery. And, uh, I was right. The Jumping effects, handled by Weta Digital (Peter Jackson’s company, responsible for stuff like District 9 and Avatar) were impressive, frequently showing the Jump from the Jumper’s point of view, and offers such delights as Jumping a doubledecker bus on top of a Paladin or a three-dimensional jig up, over, and around rush hour traffic is a really Nice Car that’s just been Jumped through a display window. Hayden Christensen fares well through the effect-laden movie, establishing himself as a hedonist escaping a sucky childhood, only to be thrown into mortal danger for reasons he doesn’t understand, set against Jamie Bell as his relictant mentor in all things Jumping and Samuel L Jackson as the most tenacious authority figure this side of Deputy Sam Gerard. And with all the interweaving subplots the movie sets up, this looks like it would be an engaging movie somewhere at the intersection of The Bourne Identity and X-Men.

Unfortunately, it becomes clear that this movie was made with sequels firmly in mind. How many subplots are set up? Four or five, thereabouts. How many get resolved at the end? ONE. TEMPORARILY. Seriously, movie, you CANNOT set up an action-packed, effects-filled arms race between Jumpers and the mundanes who hunt them, and then just END. There has to be some sort of denouement so we know that, yeah, this section of the overarching story is coming to a close, but our intrepid hero’s journey is just beginning. At least have the common decency to give us a compelling cliffhanger if you’re going to Just End, otherwise one is left feeling like they just watched half a movie because the filmmakers were too damn lazy to finish it. What makes things worse is the fact that the movie is less than an hour and a half long. Seriously, it’s okay to make a long movie if you have more story to tell. If you have enough plot to carry it, people will watch. Really.

In the end, while Jumper was exciting and action-packed, with a lot of neat special effects and a lot of promise and carried me along well, but the clumsy field amputation of an ending left me waiting for a sequel only so I could see a proper ending to the story. Give this one a miss until the next one comes out.

The Happening (2008)

M. Night Shyamalan is capable of making good movies. For example:

The Sixth Sense: Good movie.

Unbreakable: Good movie.

Signs: Decent movie.

While some might deride him as a Small Name Big Ego director, he is capable of taking simple things and making them spooky as hell… which makes me wonder what happened with The Happening.

The Happening focuses on an unexplained phenomenon that causes people to spontaneously commit suicide in strange and improbable ways, like an entry of Final Destination turned inside out. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, and a whole bunch of other people that you won’t really care about.

Wahlberg plays high school science teacher Elliot Moore, who improbably subscribes to the school that accepts “hell if I know” as a valid and complete answer to questions. After hearing about a mass suicide of random people in Central Park, he decides to leave Philadelphia with his wife Alma (Deschanel) and escape to Harrisburg, accompanied by Elliot’s friend and fellow teacher Julian (Leguizamo) and Julian’s eight-year-old daughter Jess. Julian’s wife is stuck in Philadelphia but expected to join them later. Complicating matters is the fact that Elliot and Alma seem to be having marital difficulties. I say seem because aside from Alma getting e-stalked by some guy named Joey – which Elliot doesn’t know about for two-thirds of the movie – there seems to be no real reason for this. At all.

Of course, when the train loses radio contact with the other stations, it stops off in a small town to drop of the passengers, leaving Our Intrepid Heroes to try to find their own way to Harrisburg, only to find that Harrisburg has been afflicted with mass suicides as well. A random botanist suggests that perhaps the plants are releasing a chemical that turns off the human survival instinct (though in practice it seems more like whatever it is throws the switch all the way into reverse), and as time passes it appears that the phenomenon is affecting smaller and smaller groups of people, driving people to seek out unpopulated areas (instead of scattering, because a whole bunch of people flocking to an unpopulated area is going to very quickly make it not unpopulated), while avoiding routes and areas already strewn with dead bodies. Meanwhile, Elliot is trying to remain scientific about this whole thing, even though ultimately the phenomenon is exactly following the Shit Happens That We Can’t Understand line of thinking he demonstrated at the beginning.

While Shyamalan (maybe) tried to evoke the same feelings of suspense that Alfred Hitchcock did with The Birds, presenting a strange occurance that we can neither comprehend nor stop, ultimately the clunky writing and half-assed acting took away from any promise the plot had. The dialogue was awkward. The expository scenes were shoehorned in. Of the core cast, John Leguizamo was the best-established actor, and the most wasted. Zooey Deschanel mainly acted with her huge soulful eyes, and Mark Wahlberg frequently looked constipated. Shyamalan’s later assertion that this was supposed to be a post-modern B-movie seemed like he was just trying to save face, especially in the wake of his critical flop Lady in the Water. While the concept of a toxin that makes us commit suicide seemed like a perfectly terrifying idea, ultimately this movie falls flat.

Now, I freely admit that I have seen some bad movies. Most bad movies I’ve seen are entertaining in spite or because of their badness. This one just struck me as an awkward bashing together of things that individually can be found in entertaining B Movies but together in this combination do not happen to make an entertaining B Movie. Give this one a miss.

Cloverfield (2008)

What do you get when you cross Godzilla with Lost? You get a terrifying, chaotic, and often confusing Kaiju movie that dumps you into the action without warning and barely stops to let the audience, let alone any of the cast, stop to take a breath or figure out just the hell is going on. And for bonus points, the action is being filmed in-universe by one of the characters, offering a true worm’s-eye view of the action.

Cloverfield is an American disaster/monster movie directed by Matt Reeves, produced by J. J. Abrams, and written by Drew Goddard. It stars Michael “Uncle Nino” Stahl-David, Mike “Poseidon” Vogel, T. J. “Get Him to the Greek” Miller, Odette “Kindergarten Cop” Yustman, Jessica “The L Word” Lucas, Lizzy “Hot Tub Time Machine” Caplan, and Ben “The Perfect Man” Feldman. Oh, yeah… and a huge frapping monster. The film is presented as footage found in the wreckage of what had once been Central Park, as part of an investigation code-named “Cloverfield”.

The main story starts during a going-away party for Rob Hawkins (Stahl-David) hosted by Rob’s brother Jason (Vogel) and Jason’s girlfriend Lily (Lucas), being videotaped by Hud (Miller) over previous footage of Rob’s trip to Coney Island with Beth (Yustman) a month earlier. During the party, Hud gets taped testimonials from all the guests and tries unsuccessfully flirts with Marlena (Caplan). In contrast to the happy earlier footage, Rob and Beth have clearly grown apart, and she leaves the party early after fighting with Rob.

Not long after this, however, the building is rocked by an apparent earthquake, and the power briefly goes out. Trying to get some answers, Rob tunes into the local news, which reports that an oil tanker has capsized near Liberty Island. When the partygoers head to the roof to see what they can learn about the disaster, an explosion that takes out most of lower Manhattan forces them to evacuate the building, where they see the scratched and mangled head of the Statue of Liberty skid to a landing in the street outside. Hud’s camera catches a glimpse of the foreclaw of a monster easily big enough to be responsible, and from there all answers stop as the dwindling party of New Yorkers races to find shelter or escape Manhattan Island, while a monster rampages through the city outside.

While not everybody will be a fan of the shaky-cam style of filmmaking, it does help to capture how terrifying and chaotic a monster attack of this nature would truly be for all the “extras” in a traditional rampaging monster movie. No answers are given. Nobody knows what the hell this thing is. Nobody is sure how to stop it. Everybody just wants to survive, and they are frighteningly aware of how few of them will.

In the twenty or so minutes we have to get to know the core cast, we do get a nice cross-section of who they are: Marlena, the introverted goth chick; Rob and Beth, the romance gone sour; Lily, trying to keep everyone together; and Hud, exactly the sort of crazy bastard that you would expect to keep a camcorder going through all this. Additional material on the official website offers some insights about the timeline and what the creature might be, but in my opinion the movie as presented is effective without knowing all the answers.

If you like your monster movies to come with steady camerawork and satisfying explanations, you will hate this movie. However, if you like to come up with your own theories or see what explanations others have come up with, and are a fan of the cinema verite style of filmmaking or J. J. Abrams’ work in general, I recommend Cloverfield. While the Japanese may have pioneered the “giant monster attacking a major city” movie, Abrams has definitely paid effective homage to it.