Cloverfield * * * *

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Director: Matt Reeves.
Screenplay: Drew Goddard.
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T. J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman, Chris Mulkey.

Having recently watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) the latest of found footage film’s in “Chronicle“, I decided to look back at one of the sub-genre’s most critically praised. Now, when “Cloverfield” was released in 2008, I couldn’t really give two shits. However, I feel that might have judged this film unfairly and wanted to go back and give it another chance. After all, director Matt Reeves and particularly producer J.J. Abrams have built a steady reputation on the back of this.

While documenting a friends farewell party on video camera, a group of New Yorker’s find themselves videoing something else entirely. Their send-off is interrupted by an attack on the city as a massive and terrifying monster creates incredible havoc and tears the city apart.

As the film opens, we are given the gist straight away; middle-class yuppie-types with too much money and nothing to talk about. They have irritating mannerisms and deliver their dialogue in a resemblance of the kooky characters from the long-running TV show “Friends“. In this, I wasn’t sold. In fact, the only reason I persevered was just too see if any of them eventually got their heads ripped off. Thankfully, that wasn’t too far from the truth. After the long and protracted opening, the film suddenly jolts you to attention as panic sets in on the realisation that New York is under attack from some foriegn entity. The allegory to 9/11 is very apparent. As is the comparisons with another monster classic “Godzilla“. It’s at this point that you realise the dull opening was forgivable. Deliberate even. This isn’t a film about character development or even story. This is an unashamed monster/horror film about thrills and it’s a fine one at that. I have often proclaimed my dislike to a lot of found footage film’s and that particular style does become a bit irritating, not to mention disorientating here. However, it also works very highly in delivering the confusion and tension. The special effects are very impressive indeed and allow forgiveness for many of the film’s shortcomings. As mentioned, I had a real problem with the grating and shallow characters but, like most film’s of the found footage variety, you can imagine my delight at the realisation that there are very few, if any, survivors. That’s not say that I didn’t find myself rooting for them on occasion. I did, but that’s down the creativity of the filmmakers. Matt Reeves, (who done “Let Me In” – the American remake of the Swedish vampire movie “Let The Right One In“) does a sterling job in only his second directorial outing. He manages to mount the tension in abundance and he does it all, without the use of music. It was only after it was over and the credits were rolling that I realised my perception of this film had not been manipulated in any way, with an overbearing score.

You can see the clout that producer J.J. Abrams brings to the table here but his backing only allows a talented director to flourish. And that he does. This is a stylistically crafted, adrenaline filled, modern B-movie that commands your attention.

Mark Walker

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11 Responses to “Cloverfield * * * *”

  1. “However, I feel that might have judged this film unfairly and wanted to go back and give it another chance” you didn’t judge it harshly at all Mark, for me Cloverfield is very overrated, I never understood the hype around it at the time.
    not seen it for a while though maybe it is I who has judged it harshly, now I am confused – ha! (I feel a re-watch coming on). great review as always sir!

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    • Yeah man, this really didn’t float my boat when it came out but I have to say, I really enjoyed it now. The beginning is mind-numbingly boring but once it gets going, it’s really well done. Hated all the characters though. It was good to see them getting obliterated ;-)

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  2. For me, this movie was really entertaining. You can sit through it without much difficulty and that’s always a plus. As for the cast… I didn’t give two shits about them – it’s like in most monster movies. You sit there and think ‘Oh, shut up already. BRING ON THE MONSTER’.

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    • Exactly man. It’s very entertaining seeing the characters meet their fates and the sfx are quite astounding for this type of film. It had it’s flaws but as you say, its still very entertaining. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Nice review, Mark. I saw this one when it came out and I don’t remember much about it, just that it was sorta fun and that it made me feel VERY dizzy. So dizzy that I had to close my eyes and take deep breaths.

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  4. I saw this one in theaters and left wholly impressed by it (though a bit sickened by the scene with the strobe lighting in the crumbling building) but as time passed my favorable opinion of the film waned. I don’t know if that’s a found-footage downside or if I just need to see this one again.

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    • It’s definitely worth a rewatch Andy. I was on the edge of my seat. The opening is very boring though and I couldnt wait to see the characters get in in the neck. Thankfully, it satisfied this need I had. ;-)

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      • I look forward to the Cloverfield sequal but the creators that be will certainly have their work cut for them what with 2014-2015 sure to be the years of the big monster movies! Godzilla….Pacific Rim and who knows what else!

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      • Yeah, as much as I enjoyed this, I don’t think a sequel is a good idea. They very rarely are of course but I think the element of surprise is gone now.
        Thanks for chiming in man.

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  5. I meant 2013-2014!

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