Cloverfield lives up to hype, expectations

**** out of *****

If Godzilla finally mustered the courage to ask The Blair Witch Project out for a few drinks and the two shared one glorious night of passion, the resulting cinematic child would be something called Cloverfield.

Cloverfield, which is produced by television bigshot J.J. Abrams and directed by relative newcomer Matt Reeves, is a monster flick filmed entirely on handheld camcorder. It's a film that, quite literally, drops the audience into chaos as a gargantuan monster attacks New York. We are the embedded witnesses as Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and friends trek through the ruins in search of his damsel in distress, Beth (Odette Yustman).

But the plot really isn't what's important in Cloverfield. The imperative thing to remember is that there is a giant freaking creature with four arms, tentacles and a mean case of fleas reaking absolute havoc on the city and knocking tank shells aside like they were gnats. After waiting months to catch a glimpse of the thing, the monster both completely surprised and satisfied me. It's a completely original creation, strange, frightening and colossal.

The handheld camerawork (which has, apparently, caused extreme cases of nausea) is nothing new, of course -- but it's innovative here in that something as epic and grand as a skyscraper-toppling creature can be brought down to the human level and truly involve the audience.

In the special effects department, Cloverfield doesn't disappoint. There are some truly breathtaking shots in this film involving both the monster and the ensuing destruction.

If I were to criticize anything about the film, it would be the absence of anything fresh in the story or dialogue department. In this respect, Cloverfield falls just short of what 2007's The Host managed. As unique a film as Cloverfield is, it's still lacking in truly gripping characters and plot. But, as stated earlier, those things really take a backseat to the fact that there's a huge monster having its way with the military.

After months of hype and speculation, Cloverfield manages to live up to its end of the bargain and fulfills the promise it made last July -- to be a truly kickass American monster flick. This is a volatile, intense film experience that I highly recommend. Make sure you catch it on the biggest screen you can manage.


  1. I loved it. I found myself firmly ingrained in the characters' outcome, fearing for their lives as though they were my own. And I honestly think it can be partially attributed to the camera technique.

    Though people are getting nauseous, I would advise everyone to give it a shot. They'll give you your money back if you leave before watching the majority of the movie.

    However . . . if there is one plot device that increasingly just leaves me yawning, it's that of the "I've got to go save my girlfriend who is apparently incapable of doing anything for herself." I know, I know, it's the feminist argument. And it would be effective if just about every single monster movie ever made utilized it. Just once, I'd like a girl to get a call from her boyfriend saying that he's fallen and can't get up and have a boyfriend in distress.

    Just once.

    Having said that, you're right. The plot really isn't what matters in this movie, and I found myself enjoying it nonetheless.

    Oh, and I love the new color scheme.

  2. It would be effective if just about every single monster movie ever made DIDN'T utilize it.

    Sorry. Got carried away.

  3. I suppose I can understand your issue with it, but I thought that particular aspect was outweighed by the presence of truly strong female characters, specifically Lily and Marlena.

  4. That's a good point. I sort of forgot about Lily and Marlena, both of which held their own. I mean, hell (SPOILER) Marlena didn't even complain when she was about to explode.

    Touche, Monsieur Click.

  5. It's been about a week and a half since I saw this monstrosity (pun intended), and I simply loved every second of it. The whole concept (having not seen Blair Witch - I quote Charles Manson from Family Guy referring to reruns - "If I haven't seen it, it's new to me) added to the gigantic behemoth (thankfully, not a moth pun) tearing up New York like a papier-mâché miniature city the day after it's been graded.
    Unfortunately, even that can be overdone. The head of Lady Liberty was not to scale - too small, by far, and is too fragile in real life to survive a little midnight bowlerama, but the camera phone scene was uproarious in a do-you-bite-your-thumb-at-me? honest society satire.
    Also, I felt Michael Stahl-David, Rob, wasn't a captivating enough character (nor was Beth, but she came on late in the game, and Lily and Marlena and Hud set the bar very high) to be thrust upon the limelight - even in more non-life-threatening scenes he didn't give me a toe to stand on, empathy-wise.
    That being said, the lice-like creatures you refer to are REAL and SCARY little (comparatively) nippers and the mama ain't a softie - Hud's death (and yes, (mostly) everyone dies, deservingly so seeing as how they STAY IN THE GROUND ZERO OF A MONSTER AND HER DIMINUTIVE ILK VS. BULLETS AND SURFACE-TO-AIR MISSILES) is the frightening crescendo of a terrifying treat.
    You had me at 'exploding stomach.'


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