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Reviewed by: Matt
RELAX - NO SPOILERS
Obviously there's been a huge amount of hype and mystery around this flick. And I'm happy to say that underneath it all is an absolutely kick ass monster flick. Cloverfield does not disappoint.
Pretty much a group of friends are caught in a pickle as a giant monster that seems to have come from somewhere under the sea launches an attack on New York City. Receiving a desperate phone call from the love of his life, Rob (Michael Stahl-David), Lily (Jessica Lucas), Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) and Hud (T.J. Miller) set off to rescue her while trying to evade the skyscraper-sized, enigmatic, seemingly unstoppable creature.
What I Liked:
The performances of the film were very good. No one had any huge acting moments to speak of, because real life doesn't have very many of them either. What the main actors do is provide very naturalistic performances that pull you into the story. I bought every member of the cast as just an average person. I suppose part of that is due to the writing, which for the most part sounds very natural as well (credit Drew Goddard for that).
The monster absolutely rocks IMO. I'm not going to give anything away, but you do see the monster very clearly fairly often. There are at least a half dozen really good moments, and towards the end of the film you can see it in an extended shot that is both awsome and terrifying. Not only was the idea of the monster very cool, but the visual effects used to create it are very convincing. At no time did the monster or any of the destruction it creates feel unreal.
I was expecting to be thrilled, but I wasn't expecting to really get scared. Here is a thriller with genuine thrills, and a few guarenteed leaps. There is also a lot of tension in some moments. Director Matt Reeves creates very intense atmospheres in moments of quiet, such as when the group is attacked in the subway tunnels or when they must navigate their way through a tilted apartment building.
The ending, again I'm not going to give anything away, but it is pretty cool. A little depressing perhaps, but I don't think they could have ended it any other way without it seeming cliched.
What I Didn't Like:
No film is perfect, and there were some things about Cloverfield that kinda ticked me off. The first and most important is some of the camerawork. For the most part, it works. But there are moments that are a little nausiating, such as the aftermath of a helicopter crash or some shots of our heroes running down the street. The camera shakes from side to side, and up and down. It gets a little annoying. There are also moments where I wanted the camera to be pointed at something happening off screen (monster attacks, explosions, etc.) but it was aimed down at the cameraman's feet. It was frustrating, I wanted to shout out "turn the camera around, wanker!"
Have you guys ever seen that Siskel & Ebert review of Poltergeist III? For those who haven't, you should (it's hilarious). For those who have, I was reminded of the review by some moments in the film. Anytime Rob walks more than ten feet away from the camera, Hud (the cameraman) relentlessly screams "Rob! Rob! Rob, come back! Rob! Rob! Where are you, Rob!" It also was annoying.
Cloverfield is a relenetlessly-paced, unapologetically intense experience. There was not a single moment from when the monster attacked that I was not on the edge of my seat. Drew Goddard, Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams have created a modern classic. I think this film is going to remembered for years to come. An excellent way to start the new year of movies. If you're looking for something exciting and unremittingly entertaining, then Cloverfield is for you. If you have a weak stomach, or if your nerves fail easily, then you should probably avoid it.
Copyright 2008 (c) Matt.
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