So, I saw Cloverfield today, even after being advised to wait for video. I really only have two to three thoughts on the matter.

  • The Giant Monster genre was deconstructed, at least according to this definition. That is, (setting aside such minor details as the square-cube law, or the sheer amount of energy required to sustain such an organism, let alone move it around) what do you think would really happen if a giant monster capable of smashing buildings attacked a major metropolis? One where people actually live and work? Yeah, it would be a mess, to say the least.
  • I believe I’ve seen a positive example of Squid on the Mantelpiece. It’s a term sometimes used in science fiction writers’ workshops, and has the following definition:
    Chekhov said that if there are dueling pistols over the mantelpiece in the first act, they should be fired in the third. In other words, a plot element should be deployed in a timely fashion and with proper dramatic emphasis. However, in SF plotting the MacGuffins are often so overwhelming that they cause conventional plot structures to collapse. It’s hard to properly dramatize, say, the domestic effects of Dad’s bank overdraft when a giant writhing kraken is levelling the city. This mismatch between the conventional dramatic proprieties and SF’s extreme, grotesque, or visionary thematics is known as the "squid on the mantelpiece."

  • And, not surprisingly, Ultraman was nowhere to be seen. But if you’re going to show the effects of a giant monster attack on a personal level, why not go the rest of the way and show the collateral damage from the putative hero’s battle with said monster in gruesome, intimate detail?
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3 thoughts on “Cloverfield…”

  1. I’d comment about the “hero’s battle with said monster” but I’d be spoiling the movie.
    It did ask you to suspend a lot of disbelief (an SD card can hold THAT much video?) but it is, in the end, a monster movie.

  2. Sari, maybe the genre’s on the verge of being reinvented. Monster is the new Zombie is the new Pirate.
    Robot: I came that close to spoiling the movie, myself. ;-)

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