Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Twin monster movies: Cloverfield and London

Much hype has been bestowed on the two NYC monster movies that have come out in the previous year and a half: Cloverfield and London. At first, these movies appear very much alike. They both feature a scruffy male lead who is kind of insufferable, and they begin with the male lead attending a going away party at a swanky loft apartment in the Lower East Side. Both guys are going to the party to pursue an extremely attractive, model-like woman who they were romantically involved with months ago, but had not spoken to in months. The party represents one last shot to get the girl. Finally, both movies contain numerous flashbacks to times when their respective male and female leads were happily together.

Forget what you heard, however, because the similarities end there.

In Cloverfield, the main character, Rob, faces in an obstacle in his path to the pursuit of love: A 1,000,000 ton invincible monster of unexplainable origin. This monster is destroying skyscrapers, eating people, releasing dog-sized parasites on the street to infect humans, and literally standing between Rob and the woman he's trying to win back. No one said love would be easy.

In London, the scriptwriters took a more subtle and innovative approach to the monster. London's main character, Syd, is addicted to snorting a white powdery substance, cocaine, that he believes will cure his internal fear. He soon finds out, however, that this substance is merely a psychological virus that has infected him with paranoia, as well as a propensity for babbling incoherently about the meaning of love. The internal monster causes him to lock himself up in an upstairs bathroom with an equally infected Brit (Jason Statham) for hours on end. They continue to snort the monster, but before they turn completely into zombies, they consume enough alcohol to diminish the beast within them. This alcohol overpowers them with the desire to confront their fears directly. As a consequence, Syd finally storms into the party and gets the girl he always wanted.

The ending of Cloverfield is less optimistic, however. Although Rob sneaks past the beast, reunites with the girl, and has a climactic kiss with her, they are both killed by the terrifying invulnerable monster shortly thereafter.

What can be learned from these films? Ultimately, an internal demon is much easier to vanquish than a 500 foot tall demon that can crush tanks.

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