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Cloverfield (2008)

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Plot Summary:
"Revolves around a monster attack in New York as told from the point of view of a small group of people."

Reviewer: Matt Molgaard @mattmolgaard
Location:California, USA
Review Date: 28 February 2011 My Rating: out of 5


Rob’s (Michael Stahl-David) going away party is rudely interrupted when a giant monster begins destroying New York. The city erupts in chaos and panic, but Rob must find and rescue his true love Beth (Odette Yustman). Love apparently conquers fear in this one as Rob leads his small pack of friends through New York to Beth’s apartment. Rob saves Beth, but suffers more than enough loss in the process, as the monster manages to wipe out nearly the entire city, Rob’s friends included. Can Rob manage to get Beth out of the city to safety, or will the mass destruction that has overtaken the city eventually claim their lives as well?

This is one of the better ’monster attacks metropolis’ movies made. Despite working on a reasonably low budget, the visuals are startling, and impressive. The terror unfolds at an unforgiving rate, and Drew Goddard’s screenplay offers plenty of surprises and effective humor. Matt Reeves took the ’Blair Witch Project’ approach to the film, providing us with a first person/documentary perspective, and though the film is (quite literally) shaky, there’s a very surreal emotion created through the camera work.

An attractive young cast definitely rose to the occasion, as Rob, Hud (T.J Miller), and Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) are particularly believable characters. Though limited in their experience, this young ensemble passed the test with flying colors. It’s in fact, the humanity portrayed through their performances that really helps to add extra depth and realistic scares to the film.

Respect to Matt Reeves, Drew Goddard, J.J Abrams and the entire cast of Cloverfield. By making yet another mega monster movie, you flirted with potential disaster, and instead created a modern day monster masterpiece. Good work.

Cloverfield lives up to every bit of hype heaped upon it; this is one of the better monster movies to be released in recent memory.

Reviewer: Steven Davies @braindeadsteve
Location:Luton, UK
Review Date: 03 June 2008 My Rating: out of 5

'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 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.

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