'Cloverfield' is coming to UK DVD next week and so I felt it worthy of a fresh review. Having just come off of my fill of J.J Abrams-ness after season 4 of 'Lost' recently ended I welcomed another screening of this Blair Witch style monster movie.
'Cloverfield' is the tale of some young folks who find theirselves in the epi-center of an unprecedented city takeover. And I'm not talking about terrorists or a military invasion, it's all about a humoungous creature that has migrated from unknown origins to New York city. Has it come to feed? Is it lost? Does it want to want a catch a broadway show? Who knows, not many. Is that what makes this movie so unique and fresher than most monster movies?
Well that last comment is debatable. No less than on the web ever since it's release. People seen torn between a love and hate for this movie. But this ain't marmite, this is movie-land, it's a popcorn experience. For those yet to experience 'Cloverfield' the entire movie is filmed on hand-held cameras and there seems to be great debate as to how 'unique' this actually is.
Yes, it's been done before. It's nearly a decade past since we saw the likes of 'The Blair Witch Project' so does this mean we can't retread similar style? With hundreds of movies coming out year after year it's getting harder and harder to be original without grooming and mixing elements from past movie experiences. And yes, like many, am getting to the eye-roll stage of so many remake announcements. But to pigeon-hole this movie as a 'gimmick' movie trying to rip off an already used filming style is peculiar. If we're going to do that shouldn't we be knocking the likes of 'Reservoir Dogs' or 'Gladiator' or the next big thing simply because it's trying to re-imagine something past. The turth is nearly every movie made, borrows, steals, or creates homage to it's genre buddies. Books do it, video games do it, tv shows do it...it is not the end of the world!
The haters also comment on the overuse of CGI. Now I, more than most people, hate the overuse of CGI effects unless a). they're done well, and b). they're used in the right scenes. And I can't fault 'Cloverfield' for it's use of CGI effects. In fact it took me watching behind-the-scenes extras to even realise some bits that were CGI. Of course the hand-held style is so quick and jumpy at times it may not be easy to spot but I personally think it's use here was impecible and necessary. It doesn't happen much but I felt it enhanced the experience more so than disappoint.
Rest assured doubters 'Cloverfield' ain't no Godzilla 2. The story itself is a little weak and perhaps could have been solidified with more believeable characterisations. In saying that I think if the characters had been more interesting and character development was occurring then I would have only been screaming out for more action and thrills anyway. Scripter Drew Goddard has worked on the tv show 'Lost' previous to this in both a writing and producing capacity and so am sympathetic to the cause of trying to compress character development successfully in a mere 85 minute flick with so many bells and whistles.
Ok, so let's sum up. 'Cloverfield' is more 'The Host' than 'Godzilla', it's more '[REC]' than 'Diary of the Dead'. It is fresh and it's a proper bonafied cinematic experience. It's fun and thrilling and action-filled and everything it needs to be. Job done. J.J does it again.