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Weekend Movie Review

So who would win in a fight between Daniel Plainview, the protagonist in There Will Be Blood, and the Cloverfield Monster? Both characters are singularly focused on their goal of defeating all opponents. Both apparently hate people (Plainview says as much; the Cloverfield Monster’s actions speak louder than words). Both characters leave their mark on the landscape that may take centuries to overturn. Finally, although the stories are a century and a continent apart, they both try to relate their stories to modern day concerns. All-in-all a pretty fair fight. This weekend I went to both movies to find out for myself.

Critically, it’s no contest with There Will Be Blood garnering 8 Oscar nominations and Daniel Day-Lewis the hands down favorite for the Best Actor award. Cloverfield, while receiving some nice reviews, is generally consigned to the cheesy monster movie category and most critical reviews are reserved for its creative marketing campaign as much as what is seen on the screen.

There Will Be Blood sucks you into its story as Daniel Plainfield’s oil man is mesmerizing as he works over a small, desolate California town to get its oil. In addition, the movie's fascinating score (by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead) sounds as if it were played by a field of recently hatched cicadas. The problem with There Will Be Blood is that it presents all these “big? ideas but then doesn’t answer them, it strives to be bold without actually being bold. The end is almost farcical and ultimately the movie leaves you wanting more.

Cloverfield, on the other hand, pulls no punches on what it is or what it’s trying to say. The only question we have is what kind of monster is attacking the City: sea monster? government experiment gone awry? Rosie O’Donnell? The movie is a roller coaster ride experienced through a hand-held camera as NYC is being attacked by the monster and defended by generic army troops. There is no omni-present government agency watching the proceedings from afar, no scientist explaining everything that is happening. The only outside news we get is from random TV sets our heroes happen across.

I thought the movie did a good job of showing the street level view of a City under monster-siege. It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s confusing. We get glimpses of the monster here and there but rarely a whole picture. The movie is also helped in that it is populated by unknown actors. We don’t know who is going to be the hero and who’s going to be monster meat. (much like the first Alien movie). The movie ends like you think it should. With no reason for sequels or spin-offs. An overall very scary, thrilling, monster movie.

Did you see There Will Be Blood or Cloverfield? What did you think?


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