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Cloverfield

A movie directed by Matt Reeves

< read all 21 reviews

Solid jolts raise it above the standard genre cliches.

  • Jan 22, 2008
  • by
Rating:
+2
It's already a cliché to call CLOVERFIELD the "Blair Witch Meets Godzilla" movie. But that's about as accurate a snapshot of this film as you could want. The entire experience is seen through the point of view of one guy who starts out by filming his friend's going-away party and becomes his video of the attack on Manhattan by a Godzilla-like monster.

This method accomplished several crucial things:

1) It allows the movie's very low budget to get stretched even further and in fact, makes the low budget a non-issue. Everything looks a little grainy in this film...and if the filmmaker's can't afford to SHOW you something, you can just HEAR it.
2) It injects a new life into a tired genre.
3) It actually becomes a little poignant, because occasionally the film fast-forwards and we see snippets of the video that was on this particular tape BEFORE this monster video was taped. These snippets show the early days of the love story between two key characters. The way CLOVERFIELD is made allows these scenes to be integrated in a completely organic way.
4) It creates a "you are there" feeling that makes the film work...much in the way this method made BLAIR WITCH work.

The story itself is nothing new. Big monster attacks big city. Mass destruction ensues. The military is ineffective. Many people get squished. But what creator J.J. Abrams has managed to do is find a new way of telling the story that makes it seem at least a little fresh AND makes it almost real time and quite visceral. You are "on the ground" as events unfold. Just like the main characters, you get NO information on where this thing came from, what might be happening anywhere else in the city or the world, etc. The movie doesn't have to answer any questions, because the videographer of the movie wouldn't have gotten any answers either.

It's fast-paced, funny at times and absolutely scary at times. You'll jump more than once and you'll have a good time. Your brain will be engaged for a minimal amount of time...you see this film at a gut level. In terms of accomplishing what it set out to do, CLOVERFIELD gets close to knocking it out of the park.

There are weaknesses, of course. The film is very short (less than 90 minutes) and even then, the opening scenes at the party feel like padding. Yes, we get to meet the characters who become central to the rest of the film...but watching a bunch of strangers partying is about as exciting as it would be to see a home movie of a friend's party. Also, the actors are mostly unknown, and they aren't the greatest. No one gives a true stinker of a performance but neither is there much above average. (The one exception is Lizzy Caplan [best known for MEAN GIRLS], who gives a little depth to her role.)

Finally, my biggest problem with the low-budget was that Manhattan wasn't crowded enough. If something like this happened, the streets would be absolutely choked with people. But the crowd scenes make it seem as though the city has been mostly abandoned already. You just have to go with it.

So CLOVERFIELD is solid, exciting entertainment. It won't be a classic, but it does rise above its genre trappings through its inventive setup and a few truly jolting scenes.
--Visit my site www.afilmcritic.com for more reviews

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More Cloverfield reviews
review by . May 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****     I've gotten tired of the gimmicky "found-footage" style of filmmaking, especially in horror films. I love the horror genre for many reasons, and these films...they have plagued it with the same old approach. However, "Cloverfield", in spite of its premise, offers something new for movie-goers. Think of is as "Godzilla", but if it had been filmed with a piece-of-shit camcorder. Also, the monster here isn't Japanese.    In the end, I think …
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
When one thinks of "Cloverfield" (2008) the awesome "hyped-up" trailer comes to mind. The teaser trailer was very well-marketed and does grab our attention. J.J. Abrams (Mission Impossible, Lost) definitely knows how to arouse the curiosity and attention of moviegoers. Now, the only problem with hyping up a film so much is that it either works or it doesn't. Hype can definitely work in putting people on theater seats but once word gets out that the film is "anything …
review by . February 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Godzilla on steroids
  When reviewing Cloverfield obvious comparisons to movies like Godzilla are easy to make, but this film is so much more then a simple monster bash. Cloverfield is a wild mix of Godzilla like monster fun, blended with The Blair Witch Project camera style and Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition) like suspense all blended together to make one of the most perfect monster/disaster/horror films of the modern day.       First off lets give some credit to the incredible job the producers …
review by . May 28, 2009
WTF???
I highly recommend watching Cloverfield this year or any other year ...if you are being held at gunpoint. Otherwise, you are free to skip it as I wish I had. Thankfully, a friend bought me the movie ticket & I even felt sorry for the poor chap afterwards having to invest money on this hunk of steaming crap.       I have heard all the rumours on how Cloverfield is the new Blair Witch Project. Just forget it! Blair Witch Project & Cloverfield …
review by . February 09, 2009
Just like many of you, when I saw the preview for this film I instantly dubbed it "a must see". What can I say? Something about the head of the Statue of Liberty rolling down the streets of Manhattan had me hooked. More importantly I couldn't wait to find out what exactly was causing this carnage. So it was with great expectations I strapped myself in for what was sure to be an incredible ride.      Now I could go on and on here about who the cast is but you would have no idea …
review by . April 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Special effects, pacing      Cons: Nothing original, terrible narrator, very shaky camera--not for the motion sick.      The Bottom Line: If you've watched half a dozen scary or alien movies, then Cloverfield stole part of it; still there's enough to entertain.  Warning if you are prone to motionsickness, skip it.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Cloverfield is the …
review by . August 02, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
To give the utmost atmosphere of authenticity, `Cloverfield' films all its monster movie proceedings as though an amateur were using an average video camera. All the starts and stops of footage are effective enough, and the glimpses of the modern equivalent of New York City's Godzilla keep tangible, but not always present.     Just like all disaster pictures, the prologue introduces us to all of the characters. We need to know and care about them. Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) …
review by . July 05, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
The idea behind the film is clever, even if it is a bit obvious -- to the point where it's surprising nobody has done anything quite like it, or at least nothing on a similar scale. Somebody thought, let's make a monster mayhem flick but instead of a blockbuster make it an indie, shot amateur style: Godzilla meets the Blair Witch. That allows them to economize on the special effects, using sparing effects that would work on tv but not on the big screen -- but when shot on a consumer video camera …
review by . November 03, 2008
You know a movie is bad when it is set in New York but named after a road in Santa Monica, CA..... This gives you an idea how unimaginative and mindless the movie is.    I didn't mind the cinimatography. However there wasn't really a plot to peak of, the characters were pretty lame, and the monster was pretty one-dimensional. In general, I say don't bother with this movie.
review by . October 02, 2008
Pros: no pros in this film     Cons: darkness overrides production     The Bottom Line:   "No one knows what I am  No one knows why I did it   No one knows from where I come  I am Clovie!"  ~wjmmovieman         For once I get to bash a monster flick in the same decade as it was released. Never seeing any trailers for this film, and reading only summary comments from viewers, …
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie

Wiki

One of the first things a viewer notices aboutCloverfieldis that it doesn't play by ordinary storytelling rules, making this intriguing horror film as much a novelty as an event. Told from the vertiginous point-of-view of a camcorder-wielding group of friends,Cloverfieldbegins like a primetime television soap opera about young Manhattanites coping with changes in their personal lives. Rob (Michael Stahl-David) is leaving New York to take an executive job at a company in Japan. At his goodbye party in a crowded loft, Rob’s brother Jason (Mike Vogel) hands a camcorder to best friend Hud (T.J. Miller), who proceeds to tape the proceedings over old footage of Rob’s ex-girlfriend, Beth (Odette Yustman)--images shot during happy times in that now-defunct relationship. Naturally, Beth shows up at the party with a new beau, bumming Rob out completely. Just before one's eyes glaze over from all this heartbreaking stuff (captured by Hud, who's something of a doofus, in laughably shaky camerawork), the unexpected happens: New York is suddenly under attack from a Godzilla-like monster stomping through midtown and destroying everything and everybody in sight. Rob and company hit the streets, but rather than run with other evacuees, they head toward the center of the storm so that Rob can rescue an injured Beth. There are casualties along the way, but the journey into fear is fascinating and immediate if emotionally remote--a consequence of seeing these proceedings...
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Details

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: January 18, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: April 22, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 25min
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