it’s hard to remember that j.j. abrams (forever young, tv’s felicity) did not actually direct cloverfield. it’s hard because the teaser trailers and all the “viral” marketing is pretty typical of j.j. abrams productions. they are still doing the same thing for that new movie
close encounter of the super 8. since viral = retarded, i decided not to see cloverfield (or super 8 for that matter), just for spite. three years, i guess, is enough punishment. and now that all the fanboys have shut up, it’s time for a cloverfield review, so i’ll probably get to super 8 some time between june and october of 2014. stay tuned!
cloverfield, by the way, is directed by matt reeves, who directed a version of the graduate for miramax starring ross from tv’s friends, that english remake of let the right one in, and tv’s felicity.
he also co-wrote under siege 2: dark territory.
here’s the part of the review where critics would summarize the plot so here it is: godzilla meet blair witch. except instead of the monster, cloverfield tries to focus on the humans. everything we see is from their point of view. and unlike the low budget blair witch project, it’s a $25 million studio movie. instead of the japanese interrupting a love story as in michael bay’s pearl harbor, it’s a giant monster interrupting a going away party. i guess it’s supposed to be funny/ironic that the going away party is for the main character’s promotion to vice president of something to japan.
second only to the paramount marketing (who is also responsible for the paranormal activity movies), the premise is the best thing about cloverfield. i don’t think anyone watch the godzilla or king kong movies for the human characters. it’s all about giant creatures fucking shit up and shit gettin’ real in epic proportions. so it takes balls to make a giant monster/disaster movie and make it about the human characters. these characters may not be likable but they are nowhere near the annoying unbearable douchebags as in the blair witch movie. it probably helped that cloverfield, unlike blair witch, had professional writers and actors. i guess it’s a step up, going from hatred to apathy.
the premise also helps the film from being the typical hollywood disaster porn by the likes of roland emmerich. since we see only what the cameraman recorded, we don’t get much view of the monster. there are a few sequences of mayhem but they feel less like money shots as in say, 2012. at the same time, the narrative device also let them keep the film’s budget down (although, $25 million still seems pretty high for what’s on screen).
the film kind of works as a whole but there are plenty of things not quite right with it. first of all, there’s a pretty tedious 20 minute opening party scene that fits right in with your typical cw soap operas. considering the end credit is about ten minutes long, there’s really only about an hour of actual movie. i also thought it’s pretty funny that the monster seems to be following the few main characters around the city as if he’s stalking them like jason voorhees even though they are in the biggest city in the country. then there’s the plot line of the-hero-saving-the-girl that’s not entirely convincing, since their relationship doesn’t seem that special before the shit got real (although her voice mail to him sounds pretty hilarious to me).
there’s also a questionable and quite possibly offensive looting scene in an electronic store that consists mostly of dark skinned people, except for our white protagonist. but hey, he’s different than your typical brown looters because his cell phone died and he’s just looting for the noble cause of saving the girl he slept with a few weeks ago.
also, with all the shit going down in the movie, there’s a surprisingly lack of expletives in the movie. i guess they do have to keep it pg-13 to maximize box office potential, even though new york city is under attack. you can only have two “fuck”s in a pg-13 movie i think.
there are a lot of complaints about the eventual appearance of the actual monster in the movie. i thought it was less disappointing than the monster in the mist. although it didn’t bother me that much in the mist, which is a more successful movie because we actually care about the characters in the mist, and the setup is better. cloverfield has a monster advantage but pales in everything else.
there are a few little brilliant touches like how every douchebag takes out their cell phone to start filmming, much like people do in real life, in this case, it’s the head of the statue of liberty in the middle of the street, or the bridge being destroyed. i also like the little dawn of the dead reference in the middle of the movie. i also got a kick out of the subway tunnel scene where the little monsters decided not to attack until the camera is turned back to them after the night vision of the camera is turned on.
as much as i try to suspend disbelief and escape reality, i don’t think i’m alone when watching this or any disaster/terrorist movies (see also: salt, transformers, deja vu…etc) and not think about 9/11. though addressed directly only once (someone wondered aloud if it was another terrorist attack early on in the movie), there are quite a few uncomfortable elements. the device of amateur footage is one. there’s also the half fallen twin skyscrapers where the characters had to go to save the girl. since the movie has nothing to say about the real event or the real world (or anything, for that matter), and most of it was filmed in california, it’s all rather unnecessary for a popcorn movie. it’s not offensive as say, the forced, even-more-unnecessary disaster porn 2012, or a 9/11 movie made by the asylum, they thankfully didn’t make any revisionary statements or snide comments or political “jokes” like your typical roland emmerich or michael bay movie would. although, if people had problems with movies like united 93 or world trade center being made, i don’t see how they can give this one a pass. yeah! let’s make a popcorn movie about new york under attack! as realistic looking as possible! it’ll be a fun time at the movies!
it’s worth a look if you’ve seen quarantine, [rec], the mist, district 9, the host, and several godzilla movies (yes even the roland emmerich not-as-bad-as-people-say 1998 hollywood version). i wouldn’t go too far out of my way to see it though.