Written by Drew Goddard
Directed by Matt Reeves
Running Time: 1:28
for violence, terror and disturbing images.
Cloverfield was a pretty strong monster movie that is told from a singular point of view with an ending that will leave you wanting more.
During Rob's going away party, what feels like an earthquake shakes the apartment. When Rob and his brother Jason, along with their friends Hud, Lily, and Marlena hit the streets, they see that New York is under attack. But by what? They soon find out as a giant monster is attacking the city. But it's more than just a large creature that's attacking them. The friends must try and escape the city, but Rob's love, Beth, is trapped inside her apartment. Rob knows that he may lose his life, but he has to try and save her. His friends tag along to help him out, and some of them don't make it back. The entire event is being filmed by Hud so that one day, people can see what happened to them.
The tag line for Cloverfield is 'Godzilla meets Blair Witch' which is a pretty good description of the film. It is a monster movie without a doubt, and the entire movie is shot from the perspective of a guy with a video camera. So be warned... if you can't handle a shaky cam, you will likely get sick while watching this movie. The only time the camera is ever steady is when the person running it falls to the ground. Otherwise the entire movie is in constant motion. Since all the videos I shot back in college looked similar, I could handle the movement. It was an interesting way of telling the story. When I say the entire movie was shot from that perspective, I mean it. There is no footage from any other camera. It is strictly from one point of view. It made me wonder sometimes why this guy would continue to film while being attacked by an unknown creature, but there are certain things you need to set aside when watching the film. Is this a monster movie? Yes, there is a monster. The movie however is more about the survival of friends, and the length people go to for each other. The monster, which is always around but not always seen, plays a role that anything could have played... it could have been terrorists or aliens or Bob Saget. We only catch glimpses of the monster, although we do get some nice footage of its offspring, which is some ways are even scarier.
The entire movie really does feel like it's footage from someone's old video camera. They even splice in some 'old' footage left on the tape from a previous recording. But even with that being the baseline, the entire movie looks tremendous. The visual effects are amazing to watch. The devastation of New York, at times eerily reminiscent of scenes of the city after 9/11, was extremely impressive to see. Everything was done seamlessly. We've all seen the scenes of the Statue of Liberty's head flying through the streets, but the movie is so much more than that. There are however two reasons that people may not enjoy the film completely.
The first is the camera work. I recommend sitting far back in the theater because otherwise you will definitely get a headache. The second reason is one you might want to skip reading about if you want to go into the movie blind. I'll wait for you to move on to the end of the review. OK, the second reason people may not like the movie is because there is NO explanation for anything. We are literally thrown into 75 minutes of a person's life. There is no real beginning, and when the movie ends, it ends. We are never told what the monster is, where it came from, whether it's dead or even who survived. When the movie faded the black, our entire theater sat there, in silence, waiting to see what happened next, because it felt like something should happen next. But it never did. So there are two schools of thought with this - one, that there was a lot missing and some sort of explanation was needed. Two, that the movie did what it was supposed to do. If you buy into the framework of the film - that is a single videotape of one person's experience - then there can't be any explanation, because then it would turn into a typical film. The entire idea behind this film is that it is going to give you a slice of life. Maybe there will be a sequel that gives you more answers. But this movie, as it is, will only show you what happened, not why it happened. And I for one rather liked it.
The DVD comes with a bunch of extras. There's a standard making-of doc, a couple of deleted scenes and some bloopers. There is also one on the Cloverfield monster, which was entertaining. But the real treasure was the visual effects documentary. That may have been the best DVD extra I've watched. It was amazingly informational and the way it was presented really let you see how you go from shooting on a green screen to the finished product. They break down all the important scenes in a way that you can follow. I really hope the Academy remembers this film come Oscar season because in my mind, this may be the best job of visual effects I've ever seen. There are a lot of scenes that I would have never believed were created by computers. It made me enjoy the movie even more than I had before.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed Cloverfield. I thought it was extremely well made and a great visual film. You have to be willing to accept a lot of things but if you do that, there is no question you'll like the film.
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