Cloverfield – Review

24Jan08

I bought into the hype and saw Cloverfield. And not only did I see it, but I saw it at 12:01 a.m. the Friday it opened. Yes, I am a self-proclaimed movie nerd. And yes, I’ll pretty much do anything to see the next big thing in the horror genre. I can’t help it, that’s just me. That, coupled with the fact that some of the scenes were filmed on my street for an almost-annoying five days. Exploding cars, crumbled building facades, and hordes of bloodied extras scurried below my window at all hours of the night. My curiosity would’ve gotten the best of me either way. But after all the mystery behind it, the endless TV spots and promises galore, the question had always been – is it any good? I’m here to answer with a resounding YES. Skeptical up until the last second, I was certain yuppies in their mid-20s running from a giant monster in Manhattan was the last thing in cool. I was definitely wrong.

The build-up, though tedious, is a simple going-away party for a man headed for Japan. You think Godzilla, but once the first explosion sets things in motion, this as-of-yet unseen creature lays more waste to the city in the first 30 minutes than Godzilla has in his whole career. No doubt, the special effects are incredible.

Invoking images of 9/11 and the Al Gore-predicated apocalypse we fear, the movie is really non-stop the moment Lady Liberty’s severed head comes careening at the screen from the distance.

My one gripe (though I have a couple, but they’re spoilers, so I’ll spare you) is that the entire movie is filmed with a handheld “consumer” video camera. The jerky motion, together with the story’s cleverly crafted tension, made my stomach turn from opening credits to close. (Thankfully, the 84-minute running time spares us a prolonged journey into nausea.) Filled with “I would run to the Bronx” and “don’t go in there!” moments, this is one of those movies that seeing with a theater audience is pretty much a requirement.

Besides the monster and the special effects, another high point is the scene-stealing Lizzy Caplan (the goth chick from Mean Girls). Unrecognizable from her previous roles, her comic timing and sarcastic quips saves the mostly unlikable cast of characters – though the male lead, Michael Stahl-David, is quite the hottie. See it for the hype, see it for the monster, but most of it all, just see it for the fun. You won’t be let down.

P.S. Yes, you do see the monster.

-Robbie I.



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