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A movie directed by Matt Reeves

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Cloverfield is a refreshing take on the mostly stale Monster on the loose genre.

  • Jan 18, 2008
  • by
Pros: Great Premise adn execution.

Cons: Some may want more questions answered.

The Bottom Line: What was once a tired genre has been refreshed.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

Shrouded in mystery and riding a wave of fan hype, “Cloverfield” has at last arrived in theaters and delivers the goods. The film is produced by J.J. Abrams who is the mastermind behind “LOST”, “Alias”, “Mission Impossible 3”, and the next “Star Trek Film”. With a pedigree like this, it is clear that Abrams has a clear understanding of what fans want in their action/fantasy and he supplies it in droves.

The film cleverly tells the story through footage from a video camera that has been recovered in what used to be Central Park. The audience informed of this in the opening scenes when a series of coded missives against a Government warning indicates that this footage is now classified.

The footage in the camera is footage of a group of friends preparing a surprise party for their friend Rob (Michael Stahl-David), who is about to go to Japan as part of his new job as a V.P. of his company. The fact that such a young man has raised to such a prestigious position shows that Rob is clearly a motivated young man with a future, and based on the large turnout at his party, a very popular one at that.

Through footage that has been recorded over and pops up occasionally in the film, we learn that Rob and his friend Beth (Odette Yustman) had a recent physical relationship that has caused issues between them due to Rob’s pending departure for Japan. This becomes heated at the party, as amongst the throngs of well wishers, Rob and Beth have a fight that ends with Beth leaving and Rob verbally lashing out at her.

As his brother Jason (Mike Vogel), and best friend Hud (T.J. Miller), try to console Rob, the party is wracked by a sever jolt, that startles everyone in attendance. Thinking it is an earthquake, the guests are informed via television that there has been a platform overturned in the harbor, and before the guests know what hit them, there is an explosion followed by the head of the Statue of Liberty hurling through the streets.

Horrified by the noise and destruction about them, many of the guests as well as the local populace seek to exit the city, and make their way toward bridges out of Manhattan. Things go from bad to worse, and Rob, Hud, Jason, and their friends soon find themselves trapped.

Wracked by guilt over his conversation with Beth, Rob is surprised when she calls him saying that she is injured and trapped, which forces Rob to make a decision, as he and his friends, race back towards the carnage, in an effort to save Beth instead of seeking the safety before them.

Thus the stage is set for one of the more entertaining films of this genre in recent memory. The film moves along briskly, as with a running time of an hour and ten minutes, never becomes dull or overstays its welcome.

The action is intense as Rob and his friends are faced with a world gone mad, as what was once thought to be a terrorist attack goes madly astray when they see a giant creature wrecking havoc on Manhattan despite the best efforts of the military.

The intense action combined with the constant unknown as well as the suspense of the situation helps place the audience into the shoes of the characters, who unlike most genre films, come across as very real characters, despite little attention to their histories. This works very well, as we know what we need to about them as they are clearly close friends who when faced in an amazing situation, support and listen to each other without turning on one another.

Some may question the lack of answers in the film as many of the who, what, when, and why’s of the situation are not clearly explained, but the film works this in, as the audience learns and sees, only what the group of ordinary people see as they flee the streets. Since they are not high ranking military or government types, they are not given the answer, nor do they become fixated on finding them, as they are simply trying to survive.

Since the film is shot from a video camera, there are many scenes that are very herky-jerky, and some people exiting our screener mentioned that they were a bit dizzy from all of the motion. While it was at times difficult, it was also very realistic, and added to the immersion process, as you at times truly felt like you were right at Rob’s side with his friends. I did have to question how the camera, which was on constantly during the ordeal, never lost charge or needed to have the battery replaced, but in fantasy, suspension of belief is often a key criteria to propel the plot.

Much has been speculated as to the creature that is key to the plot of the film as very fan sites have run wild with speculation and claims to have the inside story. While I will not ruin the surprise, I will say that it turns out to be highly effective and engaging, and only adds to the mystery and horror of the situation. Once again, Abrams and company are to be applauded for taking an old formula of a creature on the loose in a large city, and making it fresh and invigorating.

“Cloverfield” is a solid and highly entertaining film, that would stand up with any of the past summer blockbusters and was a very welcome and refreshing way to kick off the 08 movie year, and a nice change from the comedies and dramas that usually dominate theaters this time of year.

4.5 stars out of 5.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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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 . 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, …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … 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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