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A movie directed by Matt Reeves

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If the Statue of LIberty's head is that small; she ain't all that

  • Apr 28, 2009
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 child or cousin of The Blair Witch Project, I am Legend, Alien, Godzilla, and a bit of a forgotten film called Miracle (and likely some I have not yet seen).  It is a derivative of all of them but it has just enough, just barely enough, umph to stop it from being a total waste.

A group of up-and-coming twenty-somethings meet in an apartment in NYC to have a bon voyage party for Rob (Michael Stahl-David).  The rarely seen best friend, Hud (T.J. Miller) operates the camera through which we see all of the story (it is supposed to capture the party, but becomes the mode of documentary).  During the party an apparent earthquake hits lower Manhattan; shortly the news shows a massive monster tearing its way around Manhattan.  The beast eats people and spits out smaller people eating spider looking things.  Once everyone knows a monster is tearing down Manhattan, chaos is turned up to the max.  The military attacks the beast and begins to evacuate Manhattan using helicopters.  The four principles (rounded out with Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) and Lily (Jessica Lucas)), run from lower Chelsea up to Columbus Circle to rescue Rob’s best friend cum lover.

Because of the movie’s narrative structure most of the film is very predictable, but I will go no further in case someone is using this review alone to decide whether to see it.

I will say that there really is nothing new in Cloverfield so by rights, I should hate the film.  The thing that stops it from total oblivion is the special effects.  Blair Witch was a no-budget film with an interesting structure that would become and did become hackneyed if anyone else tried it.  I Am Legend and the Alien franchise had some truly blood curdling special effects.  Godzilla is both camp and cult due to the low budget feel to it.  Cloverfield had some truly good special effects; they were not quite on par with the two listed, but they kept my attention and I usually dislike films like this one.  It is too early to know if the film will become either camp or cult, but it does have many of t he hallmarks.

The pacing worked well.  There was a ton of running and some horrible screeching (I had to mute it at times), but there were moments of calmishness where the characters stopped to take a breath, that allowed for an uneasy stillness.  The acting did not get in the way—save the screeching.

Apart from the derivative nature of the film (which I could ultimately make peace with) the narrator is beyond the pale for me.  Hud is both cameraman and commentator—and horned up post-college frat boy who never left Greek Row.  His verbal “abilities” were so stereotypical that I regret not muting his comments and his by-proxy-camera attempt to pick up a girl.  This is distracting to two steps shy of a total extreme—frat boys in porn have broader verbal range (hehe) than Hud.  Pushing aside the theft cum allusion will take a bit of energy, but putting up with a barely functioning moron may be beyond your abilities (it was well past mine).

Finally, for several reasons purposely left out of the review, Cloverfield is not all that frightening, it was far more thriller than fright fest.

I have spent longer spans of time watching far worse movies.  It isn’t a solid film, but I recommend it with reservations centering on how the writer and director didn’t even try to make something that at least a wee bit different from its parents.


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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 . 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, …
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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Paul Savage ()
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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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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