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A movie directed by Matt Reeves

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Commotion in Motion

  • Aug 2, 2008
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) and Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman) wake up and talk of making a day of Coney Island for her first time. Then, his brother, Jason (Mike Vogel) takes over the camera later, and gets involved with a going away party for Rob, who has a job promotion in Japan. Meanwhile, he and Beth have grown apart because of his move and some alleged infidelity. Beth comes with another date. He and Beth have a tiff, and all the gossip hits the fan (or at least the camera). To pass off the duty of filming little testimonial "good-bye" snippets, their friend, Hud (T.J. Miller), takes the camera. Jason's girlfriend, Lily (Jessica Lucas), gets bossy with the festivities, particularly with Hud. Interestingly enough he is a little shaky as a novice cameraman, but as chaos ensues into the night, he only improves. Hud hits on Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), one of the shrinking violets who gets on the spot being filmed on camera. Amazingly, Hud gets enough juicy gossip that no one finally shoves the camera in his face.

Just as our exposition becomes colorful and sordid enough, their apartment complex is shaken, the camera weaves back and forth, and lights flicker on and off. News reports tell of an earthquake near Manhattan with a possible ensuing oil spill. Chaos spills out in the streets in 9/11-like fashion as people run and shriek as some yet unseen hazard. Effectively, Hud runs with the camera out of breath. After a cell phone call with Beth, Rob, resolved and chivalrous, goes against the grain of the crowd and heads towards Beth's apartment on the side of town seen to contain the most peril. Jason, Marlena, Hud, and Lilly try to reason with him to stay with the flow, but Rob refuses, eventually talking them into going to save Beth. Soon Jason is killed, and they must think and act quickly.

Much of the movie goes through the subway system, fending off more than one big monster as military personnel occasionally whiz past their direction, fighting all the city's aliens and gathering the injured civilians.

With a running time of 1:19 'Cloverfield' wisely tightens up its story as South Korea's 'The Host' failed to do. In that movie, it started out awesomely wild and scary, but lingered too long and drum beat it's satiric message to death. After 9/11, I must admit my eyes welled up with tears several times during the movie. A pre-9/11 'Cloverfield' would have had me engrossed in an arcade, the kind the Superman movies of the late seventies and early eighties did, but not any more. However, a pre-9/11 `Cloverfield' wouldn't be the same, either. The frightening scenes do their job, but they mostly go for reality, which they do in spades. Suspension of belief is seldom an issue.

Fading reality: Only three parts didn't do it for me. One is when they're on the subway tracks talking about Superman as if he were real. Did they decide to do dialogue, so we'd know this isn't `War of the Worlds' after making things so lively and genuine? Also, when they come upon a military medical tent, one army man says, "The monster is winning." To me in real life, gung ho military personnel say something heartening but honest like "We're going to beat this thing, don't worry!" Of course that would tip the dramatic tension, but reality was the movie's goal. I also think at one point, the camera would get dropped sooner than it did, but that doesn't work to make this movie.

From other reviews, I was suspicious 'Cloverfield' would get shaky views to the point of irritation or tedium. I didn't feel that way. In a small way, 'Cloverfield' is a mini 'Matrix' or 'Blair Witch Project,' innovative and effective enough to steal our interest and undoubtedly spawn more films to compete with this one.

A JP's Pick 4*'s= Very Good

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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
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 . 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, …
review by . September 08, 2008
Now that all the hype has die down I was able to give this film an objective look. I have to admit I was impressed. This movie throws out the music, set-ups, and cheap scares out the window - in a good way. Nothing in this movie tells you you're watching a movie of course. You're completely disorientated from start to finish, completely uncomfortable and on edge. And that is a hell of an achievement in today's de-sensitized movie environment. While I didn't jump once, I did find myself clutching …
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John L. Peterson ()
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I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


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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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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