June 2, 2008

Cloverfield (2008)

Before I start this review I am going to go on the assumption that you know roughly what the movie is about, as I will be discussing it and won't be as vague as I sometimes am. So, if you don't know, and don't want to know, stop reading now. Don't say I didn't warn you, because I just fucking did.

Right from the get-go I have to say that I was quite excited about the prospect of a big-budget style movie shot from the perspective of a Handycam ala Diary of the Dead, [REC] or The Blair Witch Project. For me the whole idea of having the events portrayed captured first hand was something I thought could work quite well, given a decent budget and a modicum of talent in the filmmaking department. The fact that it Cloverfield is set in New York further enhanced these thoughts; you just know that if the shit goes down that people are going to grab their cameras and cell phones etc. to try and capture what is going on, should the situation permit.

The movie is "filmed" on Rob Hawkins' (Michael Stahl-David) camera, and starts off with some frivolous exploits of him with his potential girlfriend Beth (Odette Yustman). This soon cuts into footage of the preparations for Rob's leaving party; he is off to Japan to start a new job. This then turns into the party itself with the cameraman, Rob's friend Hud (T.J. Miller), moving around the party trying to get Rob's friends to record their well-wishes on camera.

Truth be known I felt this part was a little slow, but before you know it the shit does well and truly hit the fan, the building shakes, the lights go out and pandemonium ensues. The party-goers rush to the roof of the building, only to see some terrific explosions as someone, or something seems to be attacking New York.

The movie then continues on a get the Hell out of Dodge style movie, before quickly turning into a "Oh shit, we have to go back" style movie, as Rob, Hud and friends forego trying to escape the carnage in order to go back and rescue someone. Easier said than done when you see what is in their path.

Cloverfield is one Hell of a ride, it's a monster movie that doesn't rely too heavily on showing the beast, just glimpses here and there, instead focusing on the human element of the story. Don't be mistaken though, there is plenty of action, some stunning set-pieces and more than a few scenes that fit nicely into the horror genre. It's tense, frenetic and occasionally gruesome, and the style of camerawork works perfectly. The special effects seem to only be enhanced by the potentially motion sickness enducing camerawork, coming across as seamless and ultimately more effective.

There's no score throughout the movie, other than incidental music that comes from the party or stores or what-have-you. infact the only noticeable score is over the closing credits, and it is quite a phenomenal piece of music too.

Where the movie was slightly let down for me was with some of the cast, or shall I say one in particular, and that is Hud. My God, as the cameraman you just can't get away from his voice, and boy does this fucker not want to shut up. It's all Rob this and Rob that, pipe down mate for fucks sake. It just got very repetetive very quickly for these ears. Granted he does come up with the odd gem here and there, but by then the damage was done. Aside from that the rest of the cast all put in pretty good performances, their sense of panic and confusion coming across well, even if some of their decisions were questionable.

Producer J.J. Abrams has stated that he was influenced by Godzilla, after a trip to Japan, and it is nice to see some nods to the big old lizard here too. Apart from the fact there is a bloody great monster stomping about there are little touches here and there, old monster movie posters and the fact that Rob is off to Japan to work all hint back to the grand daddy of monsters.

Cloverfield is a well executed movie, one that bears up to repeated viewings and is damned good fun. I did think the ending was a little poor, not too mention convenient; the tape runs out mere seconds after the movie finishes. But as a showcase of events encapsulated in the moment it works bloody well. In fact I am slightly surprised at how much I did like it. Good times indeed.

Rating 3 stars (out of 4)

Review by Jude Felton


Anonymous said...


JD said...

Awesome review. I really want to watch this again.

Lord of Filth said...

This movie is growing on me with each viewing

Fred [The Wolf] said...

The only issue I had with the film was the ending only because I wanted to learn more about the monster and how it came to be and what not. Other than that, I loved this film and thought it was a fantastic monster movie. I'm glad Abrams has dismissed any plans for a sequel, as he wants to move on to something else. Great review for a great film.

Unknown said...

It's the funnest movie I've seen all year so far. You're right, Hud was annoying. Great review, Jude.

mAQ said...

Soiled Sinema approves vastly of Cloverfield. At least i do (mAQ), that is.