Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cloverfield Review (2008)


One of the most secretive films of recent times, Cloverfield, didn't have an official title, until about two months before realese, and was only known my it's realese date, 1-18-08. The film became famous for that date as well, breaking January box-office records, which it still holds. Much of it still remains a mystery, as we get no real answers throughout the movie, if you want answers, you'd have to sift through dozens of websites, created for an intense, and very smart marketing campaign.

The idea for Cloverfield, was created by the leading sci-fi writer of the decade, J.J. Abrams, creator of Alias, Lost, Fringe, and the remake of Star Trek. He was on a trip to Japan, when he looked inside a toy-store, to find one of the most popular items was still Godzilla merchendise, he decided it was time for America to have its own monster, and thus, Cloverfield was born. Abrams should get some credit for this film, but not all, he created the idea, but did not write or direct, only produced. Matt Reeves should get some attention, for directing one of the hardest genres, the shaky-cam.

Cloverfield has an impossible backstory, which I will not attempt to explain here, as the average movie-goer would not go to the lengths I did to find the answers, I will give you the story the film does. Rob is getting a new job in Japan, as VP of a drink company called Slusho, a group of friends decides to throw a surprise party, and record his last night stateside. But, a horrible accident occurs as something emerges from the Harbor, and begins stomping around Manhattan. We get very little invitation, as the film is done completly through a hand-held camera. We get the same amount of information we would, if we were really on the streets, one of the reasons some people hated it, but one of the key reasons, I enjoyed it.

Now, Cloverfield is not the type of film to win any major awards, but it is very fun. It's not a film that's just plain bad and fun, (Transformers), it's actually decent. Matt Reeves does an excellent job of directing mostly improv lines, and making the film seem real. A key player, and major credit need to go to Kevin Stitt. His name is barley attached to this film, but he made it what it truly is. As the editor, he makes every transition, and cut seem fluid and effortless, which would be very difficult with the film type he has to mash together. The visual effects are pretty nice as well. The film is short, lasting only about 1 hr. 15 mins. but we do get a few very nice shots of the secretive monster, buildings being destoryed, cars crashing, and the Statue Of Liberties head crashing to the ground.

Surprisingly, these are decent performances. My favorite character was Hudson, or Hud, as he is mostly called, he plays the cameraman, and gives excellent comentary throughout the film, and adds a bit of light comedy to a mostly dark movie. Here is one of my favorite lines:
Rob: Hud, will you just shut up for five seconds!
Hud: Sorry, I have to talk about something, or I'm literally gonna shit my pants in the stairwell!
The only problem with the acting, is it has very little matter, as the objective that is driving them to get through the city (and not to a safe zone) is rather stupid. But, all these actors and actresses are very good, performing in mostly improv roles, particularly T.J. Miller, as Hud, and Lizzy Caplan as Marlena.

Overall, Cloverfield is a fun, monster-movie experience for the modern age. It's isn't particulary scary, but definatly has some thrilling moments. The effects are pulled off nicely, for having to add them into constantly shaking footage, the editor and director definatly deserve more attention than they get, and the performances are done rather nicely. The only problem for the film, is it's near lack of story (which can be done well), but not really here, though I respect the creators for truly trying to make it as real as possible. If you can't tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Cloverfield, and own it on DVD.

I Give Cloverfield:
4 Zombi's out of 5.

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