Review of 'Cloverfield'

cloverfield.jpg Some people have called this movie a cross between “The Blair Witch Project” and “Godzilla”. Fair enough. Yep.

From the man who brought the addictive television show “Lost” Cloverfield is an innovative and exciting film that was, throughout filming, shrouded in secrecy.

The beginning of the movie introduces us to a group of young people getting together for a party in New York near Central Park. The first half hour we see the various dynamics of the people involved – the loves, the lives, etc. The whole movie is filmed in a first-person perspective, that is, by one of the young men attending the party. As such the cinematography is quite frantic and, often, a bit headache inducing (this is similar to the “wobbly camera” approach used in “The Bourne Ultimatum” that, when I saw it, caused my head to hurt for hours afterwards). Just as we are beginning to get a bit bored of the party it is unceremoniously interrupted with massive explosions outside with the head of the Statue of Liberty, bashed and battered, landing on the street outside. The images at this point are disturbingly like those seen on 9/11 with skyscraper fires and dust all around. The panic of the party goers is quite palatable as they try to figure out what is going on. We the viewer are also trying to figure it out as the cinema audience leans forward to try to catch a glimpse of what the heck is going on. We soon find out, through news broadcast and a few, fleeting, glimpses through buildings, that a giant monster has begun to attack the city. The remainder of the film sees the small group running around in panic with one of the men realising that his girlfriend has been left behind at “ground zero” then heads back to get her – Despite the risk and against all odds (yes, another Hollywood cliche, but it does work here, even if just to show us some more action and neato set pieces).

The effects are fantastic and the characters are not too bad as well (though probably not the strong part of this movie…). The first-person perspective works quite well though it is obvious at some points that they are not acting as though a friend is holding the camera but they are simply acting…Realism is also stretched with the idea that the camera is taken with them throughout the crisis…But these are all just nit-picking.

With the serious nature of the material there is not a lot of levity but that just adds to the tension throughout – We really do develop feelings for the characters as they try to figure things out and get things done…And this is really the power of the film: The unknown and the panic that ensues. A much smarter monster and action film than Hollywood normally produces…

It is a really fun film.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2008-02-04

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Studio: Bad Robot

Year: 2008

Length: 85 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Matt Reeves: