You probably already know, but here is a run-down of the movie. Created by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias) and written by Drew Goddard (Buffy, Lost), Cloverfield is a “Blair Witch” style monster movie in which we only see surviving footage of a catastrophe. The main gimmick of the film is that the trailer never revealed what the monster was. And, no, my review wont spoil that surprise. The main character is Rob (Micheal Stahl-David) who leaves for Japan the following morning. His friends, led by camera wielding Hud (T.J. Miller), secret love Beth (Odette Yustman), brother Jason (Mike Vogel) and Jason’s girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas) are throwing him a goodbye party. The party doesn’t go as planned when New York is attacked by an unknown creature.
The entire film is purposely poorly shot as if it actually happened. This is effective in creating realism, but the often shaky cam caused me and others in the theatre minor motion sickness. The film quality is suspiciously excellent though. At least The Blair Witch Project’s handheld camera effect was authentic. Overall the look does work, especially early on when we catch the first glimpses of the monster which prove more effective than later closeups.
A lot of people will judge this movie based on how they feel about the monster. I was disappointed. But after months of hype, could anyone really be impressed? The monster is actually quite scary at times, and the CG is executed better than I’m used to. In the end, the monster doesn’t really justify the mystery but it does it’s thing. Personally, I expected something more interesting from the brilliant mind of Abrams who is responsible for the most complex TV on air today. Superb writer Drew Goddard does a good job of injecting his trademark humour into the film which may actually be the highlight. This was common during his days behind TV’s Buffy. However, with Buffy, he was also able to bring considerable emotion and heart as well as dark themes. Cloverfield gets high points in some areas but it falls short with it’s characters who never really captivate us.
The movie is simply a thrill-ride. I’m not usually a fan of straight up action flicks or monster movies but Cloverfield brings genuine scares and laughs to the table. I was unreasonably hoping for a rich movie-going experience but was let down. Cloverfield does provide a new take on the monster movie, and there’s no denying it’s a fun way to kick off 2008.