‘Cloverfield’: Monster hit

Fri, 01/25/2008 - 9:52am
By: Michael Boylan

This film had been hyped since the initial trailer hit screens last July. Fanboys and movie geeks pondered just what “Cloverfield” was for months and now we know. It’s a monster movie shot from the perspective of the the people running for their lives in the city (New York City - Mahattan specifically) under attack and it is brillant.

The 21st century has been a time of both fear and technological wonder and “Cloverfield” plays with both themes. It is hard to not think about the images from 9/11 as Manhattan gets trashed by a gigantic monster from the unknown. One of the first things the audience sees after the initial destruction is a gigantic dust cloud that coats everything in the street (people, cars, etc.). The fact that we are seeing these images is because Hud, the guy who was videotaping best wishes for a friend leaving for a job in Japan, has kept the camera rolling as the destruction started. In fact, in a moderately humorous jab at American citizens as a nation of camera-people, a crowd takes pictures and videos with their cellphones of the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty (now donning claw marks).

There is not much plot in the film. Rob is leaving for Japan and his friends are throwing him a going away party. Beth, the girl he loves, has come to the party with another guy and after an argument with Rob she leaves angrily. All heck breaks loose when a monster attacks the city. People try to flee to Brooklyn but Rob, Hud and two girls remain in Manhattan in an attempt to rescue Beth who is stuck in her apartment building. They encounter the monster a few times and several monsters that fall off the monster during their journey.

“Cloverfield” works though. It is suspenseful and very creative. Director Matt Reeves gives the viewers just enough at just the right time to keep everyone on the edge of their seats. The big monster is awesome, even though full-on views are few and far between, but the little monsters are even scarier. They look like creatures from the “Alien” series and are ferocious. What makes everything a little scarier is the fact that nobody knows what the creatures are, why they are there and what the government is going to do about it. Oh, we see the military shooting the monsters, treating the wounded citizens and organizing a bombing campaign, but this isn’t a story about America destroying a monster. The hero isn’t a soldier or scientist at all. The heroics are on a much smaller scale and the audience is let in on the fact very early on that there likely won’t be a happy ending.

Still, “Cloverfield” is a fresh take on a monster movie and while the camera work can be a little dizzying at times, it is merely meant to be unsettling (as it is for the characters) and not nauseating. If you’re looking for a fast-paced and fun movie, “Cloverfield” is the way to go.


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