Monday, January 28, 2008

Cloverfield


Year: 2008

Dir: Matt Reeves
Writer: Drew Goddard
Producer: JJ Abrams

Stars: MICHAEL STAHL-DAVID, JT Miller, Lizzy Caplan, Odette Yustman, Jessica Lucas.


For the YouTube generation this movie is a huge big deal, worth a million stars, not to mention dollars…For me it is, for the most part, a pretty mediocre piece of clich├ęd sci-fi faux-horror… with really annoying camera work! Any reviewer giving this piece of celluloid, anything upward of 3 stars has, seriously, not watched enough movies.

It’s a new take on an old genre, that of the monster movie, a sort of mutated Godzilla (if that’s possible). A handful of party revelers are trying to keep their heads, while all around are losing theirs, literally. Something nasty has just taken a bite out of the Big Apple. That’s it. This review has more dialogue than the entire script. So, if its intellectual content and deep characterizations you’re looking for, steer clear…you’re better off watching ‘Knocked-up!’

But I digress; this is Cloverfield after all, an apparent cinema giant of hype and clever marketing, a fully-fledged piece of cinema history unfolding before our very eyes – apparently. Well, if you can handle the shaky dizzying visuals, and sharp cuts, then you’re already half way to liking this …umm… cheap pretender.

The premise is the gimmick. We are seeing something recorded on a hand-held camera by a dopey Hud Platt (J.T. Miller), friend to Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David). A Camera, which at the start of the movie is being used to film Rob, and his girlfriend Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman). Subsequently documenting Rob’s going-away party on the fateful night…as all hell breaks loose. The kind of thing you might find on the Internet, right?

This takes us to scenes of carnage, the Statue of Liberty’s decapitated head adorning a trendy Manhattan sidewalk, and eerie dust filled shots, reminiscent of a 9/11 New York City in the morning…Our chief players, including Rob’s friend Lily Ford (Jessica Lucas) are totally out of their minds…running in the wrong direction!

The US army moves in, and through the ensuing pandemonium, Rob searches the shelves in a looted electrical shop for a cell phone battery. Suddenly, all stop dead in their tracks to gaze at the TV screens. A news flash reveals the horror that’s just around the next block, as we see some rather nasty creatures taking on a woefully unprepared military. Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Just about everything in Cloverfield you’ve probably seen elsewhere, including one of the most predictable scenes in contemporary cinema. By now, everyone knows that you don’t go down, into the subway system while the city has no power …and there happens to be a menacing deadly force on the loose somewhere above, right?

Why aren’t you scared? ….For Godzilla’s sake…because you’ve already seen “28 Weeks Later”, and a dozen others, and you just don’t do it again, you don’t! Ironically, this particular scene has the best dialog of the whole picture. Intentional laughs are provided mainly by J.T. Miller’s character Hud, and sorely needed as it just gets worse from here.

What Cloverfield lacks is, in part, made up for in some interesting if slightly low-budget visuals. The cityscapes are pretty good…the fleeting glimpses of ‘something’ between the skyscrapers, and the military onslaught being watched from a safe distance…most of the time.

The influence of JJ Abrams, producer of TVs ‘Lost’ series, has given us a cinematic thrill-ride, with seat-of-your-pants adrenaline pumped scenes of fear and dread. At least I am assuming that was the intention! I’m hoping this was not some metaphor about the loss of freedom, and how the war on terror has invaded the hearts and minds of us all?

But why is everyone saying this is ‘Awesome’? Why aren’t people telling it as they see it? “Aliens” was awesome, so was “The Matrix”, but not this. Awesome is not the word I choose. Mine has four letters and can’t be repeated. Watch Cloverfield at your peril!

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