Let's get the obvious out of the wayâ€”J.J. Abrams is a genius. The creative sparkplug behind ABC's brilliant, genre-bending mindfuck Lost, Abrams operates with a marketing brain unlike others. Just look at the tactical set-up for Cloverfield, the handycam-shot monster epic that broke January box office records this past Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, registering upwards of $41 million. The plan was simple, yet ingeniously vagueâ€”debut a title-less, "holy shitâ€ worthy teaser trailer before the summer's biggest flick, Transformers, and then flood the Internet with clues, pseudo Japanese news footage, and cryptic web sites. All the while, never showing the monster and naming the movie a nonsensical, far-from-Godzilla-like word such as "Cloverfield.â€
A smashing opening-weekend box office and endless positive reviews later, Abrams is standing proud. However, people failed to realize that he's merely the film's producer, the one whose industry clout got the otherwise suspect pitch (giant monster ravages Manhattan, not unlike 1998's horrendous Godzilla remake) greenlit. Well, "merelyâ€ may be the wrong word, but regardless, the real creative force behind Cloverfield has been unknown director Matt Reeves. All that was known about Reeves, prior to now, was that he grew up with Abrams, directed the forgettable 1996 comedy The Pallbearer, and co-created that thinking man's Beverly Hills 90210 show Felicity.
Last Friday, on Cloverfield's release day, Reeves and the film's largely anonymous cast gathered in Central Park South's Jumeirah Essex House Hotel, across the street from where the film's doomsday-esque final scene takes place. Having seen the film three days prior, I already knew how great it wasâ€”a masterfully executed, although potentially nauseating, rebooting of the overgrown monster movie, focusing on those surviving the nightmare rather than the military or government. Sitting with Reeves and the six primary cast members, though, 10 other revelations came to light, and here they are, purely observational and utterly meaningless revelations. But be forewarned, if you have not seen the movie, one of these is a spoiler alert!
- Listen Up! For patient, cinema buffs, a special treat is placed right as the final credit fades up. As Reeves pointed out, an inaudible, muffled vocal transmission is heard, sounding somewhat like some dude saying, "Help me.â€ Fortunately, some cyber-nerd actually spun the static backwards, unveiling what is clearly "It's still alive.â€ Hopefully, this doesn't mean "sequelâ€â€”typically, horror/sci-fi follow-ups go more the way of the disgraceful Hills Have Eyes 2 than the insanely dope 28 Weeks Later.
Click here to listen to the snippet from Cloverfield
- Or Does It Mean Sequel? Speaking of sequels, Reeves also discussed how, if one is to happen, it'd most likely be another handheld document of the film's devastation, shot from somebody else's camera. In particular, he cited the scene when Hud, our cameraman, steps foot on the Brooklyn Bridge and films another guy documenting the capsized boat and decapitated Statue of Liberty as a possible sequel angle. Inventive, sure, but this approach seems pretty pointless. We already know that Manhattan has been nukedâ€”if a sequel is necessary, why not have the monster terrorize Atlanta instead? There's plenty of wack rappers there who could be eliminated.
- The Cast Comedian: TJ Miller, who plays the aforementioned "Hud,â€ is definitely the liveliest of the cast. While the other mostly regurgitate generic responses to our questions, he answered each with humor intact, a direct result of his standup comedian background. Also, dude looks exactly like a heavier Napoleon Dynamite, even down to his vacant, open-mouthed stare when not speaking. He divulged that he actually shot a good one-eighth of the film himself, and that other cameramen had to wear the same sneakers and pants as Hud at all times.
- The Cast Hottie: Also showing some genuine personality was my future wife, Jessica Lucas (located on the right), who plays "Lilyâ€ in the film. Think the natural beauty of Zoe Saldana, only with a much-larger bra size and thicker hips. Admittedly, her answers repeatedly went unheard by yours truly, as I imagined myself holed up in a Manhattan loft with her, greeting inevitable monster-dispensed death with some one-on-one time behind closed doors. Reality set in, though, and I settled for a more realistic daydreamâ€”interviewing Ms. Lucas over some "freeâ€ expensive food for a KING cover. Fingers shall remain crossed for this.
Watch this interview with Jessica Lucas and Mike Vogel of the Cloverfield Cast
- More Lucas: Even the monster itself realizes how hands-down fine Ms. Lucas is. How else can you justify the four-legged, spider-like beast allowing "Lilyâ€ to be the film's sole survivor? 25 stories tall or not, this monster knows a dime when he sees one.
- Where'd The Monster Come From: As for the origin of the monster, Reeves offered insight. More his interpretation than actual explanation, he reasoned that he sees the unnamed creature as a newborn, lashing out in fear at unfamiliarity as any recently-hatched yet abandoned animal would.
- What About The Splash? In the same breath, Reeves also confirmed that something does indeed fall into the Coney Island water in the film's last reel. Off to the right of the screen, an indeterminable object splashes into the sea, providing two different explanations. One, it could be a satellite from above the clouds crashing down, awakening the dormant monster from his underwater slumber. Or two, the object is an alien babyâ€”landing on Earth, growing for a month underwater, and then surfacing just as our main protagonist, Robert Hawkins, is kicking back drinks at his going away party.
- The Story Behind Slusho:Â Hawkins is set to leave for Japan the following morning to serve as Vice President of the made-up Slusho Corporation. This tidbit wasn't revealed during the press day; rather, a series of faux news footage clips from Japan, discussing partnering companies Slusho and Targuato, the latter responsible for sea-level drillings that may have awakened the beast in Japanese waters. This theory would cancel out the Coney Island water alien dropping, however. Yet, as Reeves mentioned, nerdy employees at Bad Robotâ€”Abrams' production companyâ€”executed all of the pre-release viral marketing while Reeves and company were filming.
Click here for to watch the Slusho advertisement
Click here to watch the news footage
- Because You Can Never Say Enough About Jessica Lucas: Yes, I'm back on herâ€”oh, if only that were in the literal sense) brought to my attention that she's actually a ten-year acting veteran, not the nobody that most media has christened each of Cloverfield's cast members. Of course, none of her work to date has been too impressive, which is more a knock against her role choices than chops. Most notably, she had bit parts in the guilty pleasure comedy She's The Man (those who have seen it know its undeniable powers) and the asinine goth-fest The Covenant.
- Lucas...Again: One more Lucas-related entry won't hurt. While her fellow castmates admitted to having no clue to what the monster would actually look like, Lucas admitted that she had seen a 20-second-or-so animated clip of the monster moving about the city. In addition, she told how the majority of her city-street-running Â Â Â was done in unseen sneakers, switching to the high heels only when her feet could Â Â Â potentially be seen. Yes, both of these reveals are totally pointless, but I would Â Â Â have listened to Lucas read the script from front to back. Everything she said â€” that I actually heard â€” sounded like Gospel.
Of course, most of this info is available all over the world wide web now. Surely a strategic move by Paramount Pictures, the scheduling of this press event on the film's actual release day prevented any pre-release information leakage. If all of this info is old news to you by now, then leave with just this bit of factâ€”Jessica Lucas is ten times hotter in person than she is in Cloverfield. Odette Yustman, who plays "Beth,â€ is no slouch on the eyes, either, but seated next to Lucas, Yustman might as well had been a dude.
I've already seen the film three times (yes, I'm a loser who sees many a movie multiple times in theaters). The first was for pure viewing pleasure, the second to tag along with some friends (two of which left the theatre about 20 minutes in due to motion sickness), and the third just to peep the crazy "subway attackâ€ and "crashing helicopterâ€ scenes. The inevitable fourth viewing, though, will be all about my girl Jessica. Sad, but true.
Look out for Matt Barone's upcoming Gcast audio blog on KING-MAG.com.