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Cloverfield

A movie directed by Matt Reeves

< read all 21 reviews

Godzilla on steroids

  • Feb 20, 2010
Rating:
+5
 
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 did marketing this film. For all the months leading up to its release potential viewer's searched the internet for clews as to what this film may be about, all to no avail. No movie I've ever seen has been surrounded by so much mystery. What is it really about? Is it a giant monster? Aliens? Government tests? What? You really have to see it (or read reviews on Amazon) to find out.

The movie is shot completely, from beginning to end, on a hand held digital camera that different characters take turns filming with throughout the course of the movie, very much like Blair Witch Project. Although this can take some getting used to, and yes it did make me extremely dizzy and disoriented, the artistic benefits from filming a movie in this way are obvious from the beginning. Viewers are able to see enough of the action and disaster to satisfy the biggest action junky, yet enough is left unexplained that the movie doesn't at any time seem fake or scripted. You are able to see the entire story as it unfolds though the eyes of a very small group of people which allows you to identify and ultimately sympathize with them. As well as giving the movie a more personal effect, the home camera gives this movie a very post 9/11 feel. We've all seen the shots of the WTC falling in NYC and people running for their lives as the dust from the towers quickly moves down the street engulfing everything in its path. Watching the Empire State Building fall to pieces before your very eyes will bring back memories of those fateful days in 2001 when our lives changed forever. The camera style also gives this movie a very Jaws like effect. The director of this film was able to show just enough of the monster to satisfy his audience, yet also hide it enough so that by the end you still aren't quite sure what it was or what it looked like. Although there are some shots where the monster thing is in full view and staring right at the camera, it is still hard to see because the camera is of such "poor" quality and doesn't allow you to see much. The monster is hidden in full view, a brilliant way of building suspense that is as scary as it is original (at least in the giant monster genera).

Despite the very blatant references to 9/11 it is very refreshing to see a film that is brave enough to re-create that fateful day yet stay neutral on any political commentary. Cloverfield does not exist to pass judgment on anyone, or to give its own opinions or views on 9/11, instead it tries, and succeeds in my opinion, in showing how the events took place from the eyes of those who witness it. The movie focuses on the disaster itself, separating itself from all the political commentary and conspiracy theories that followed, and for that I give it major props for that.

Although the movie steers clear of a lot of political commentary, it does not hesitate to give us a generous helping of social commentary. What does everyone do when the see the head of the Statue of Liberty rolling down the street? They take pictures on their camera phones of course, and then they huddle around the video camera to get a glimpse of what it was that just invaded their city. What do people do when the cops and military are preoccupied with fighting off the giant monster? They loot electronic stores and steal TV's and radios, a clear reference to the chaos that followed disaster in New Orleans and to a lesser extent Baghdad after the US invasion. People watch spongbob squarpants along with news footage of the destruction of Manhattan. Its the little things like this that are what sets Cloverfield above Godzilla and King Kong (Widescreen Edition) (as much as I love Peter Jackson) and makes it something memorable and special.

But this movie doesn't get bogged down in its social commentary and 9/11 references. in its heart of hearts Cloverfield, for all its artistic filming style and commentary, really just wants to be an action/horror movie. From the second the monster shows up in the city to the very end every minute is filled with gun battles, fighter jets flying overhead unleashing their rockets into the city, and old fashioned giant monster destroying the city fun. This is what Godzilla should have been, instead of being a Hollywood style movie, shot in a very unoriginal and cheesy style with an unimaginative script and plot, Cloverfield manages to give action on a monumental scale yet show its audience relatively little of what is actually going on. The scares in this movie resemble those found in movies like 28 Weeks Later (Widescreen Edition). There is a scene about halfway though the movie that takes place in an underground tunnel in almost complete darkness with all the light coming from a few dim lights in the ceiling and a night vision scope on the camera, reminiscent of similar scenes in last years sequel to 28 Days Later (Widescreen Edition). This movie does not rely on cheap scares that any idiot can do, instead it slowly builds up tension and manages to keep its audience tense and scared throughout its entire running time.

Believe the hype people, this movie not only lives up to the mystery and excitement of its trailers but surpasses them. This movie has all the potential to become the next great cult classic and join the ranks of horror greats from history. Move aside Godzilla, there's a new giant monster in town.

Re-watch value; very high.
 
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February 21, 2010
I agree with a lot of what you have to say about this flick--it wanted to be a good old time monster movie, and it succeeded when it was being just that. On the down side I think it spent a little too much time setting up our characters at that boring party--sorry, at that excrutiatingly BORING party. Unlike most people I didn't object to the fact that characters acted stupidly. If people in horror movies didn't act stupidly there wouldn't be much of a movie. My favorite part was in the tunnel and did involve the little parasites or whatever they were that came off the primary monster! Those things were just a brilliant stroke. I also liked the fact that the camera didn't dwell on the monster. It's always best to leave your audience wanting to see more.
 
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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 . 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, …
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 …
About the reviewer
Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #16
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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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
First to Review

"The Monster Takes Manhattan"
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