Movie Review: Cloverfield

Cloverfield started its journey as an opening act to the theatrical release of Transformers, and hit us all like a freight train that you could have never seen coming. Quite possibly the best teaser trailer ever, the date 1-18-08 became embedded in the minds of millions of movie-goers. Shrouded in mystery through most of its production, the hype grew to an immense level. It is not often that hype can get overshadowed by a near perfect delivery but in the case of Cloverfield, the hype only gave us a taste of what was to come.

How could you not possibly love the fact that J.J. Abrams wanted to make America’s very own monster movie? How could you not love the marketing? How could you not love the teaser? How could you not love Odette Yustman? These are all reasons that make Cloverfield one of the most original films to date, when considering the full package. During a time when Hollywood looks just about as original as a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, a movie like this comes to totally change what we know about monster movies. I, like many others, was constantly questioning the film’s purpose and end result. I doubted that there even was a monster and thought that this was all just a brilliant marketing campaign. I was dead wrong.

Cloverfield may never win an Oscar (even though cinematography and editing must have been a pain in the ass) but it should go down as one of the most unique film experiences in decades. The camera point of view puts the entire audience right in the middle of all the action, leaving you just as scared, confused and on edge as you would be when facing a giant monster that is using your home town as a playground. The choice for first person was not only brilliant, but was executed flawlessly. The entire film was a spectacle and the performances from the little known cast served as fuel to keep this roller coaster ride moving at full speed.

The choice to cast the film with some lesser known but talented young actors was perfect. The actors displayed the entire gamut of emotions. The film had its moments where it was hilarious, sad, terrifying, and painful to watch. I don’t know if it would be possible to love the film without the hilarious commentary by cameraman T.J. Miller, the chivalrous attitude of Michael Stahl-David or the sarcastic tone of Lizzy Caplan. However, the cast was just a portion of the entire mass of Cloverfield. The real star was New York City and its monster.

Shooting the film in first person would pose a series of complications, but the film pulled it out pretty damn close to perfectly. The special effects had both its ups and its downs. The carnage throughout the city was both believable and jaw-dropping, and gave the Cloverfield monster a perfect stage to rip through. This might be where the film falls a bit short though. The monster was easily spotted out as CGI, and honestly it did take a bit away from the film. To aid this shortcoming though, the film featured parasites that dropped from the monster to wreak even further havoc on the city and its inhabitants. The parasites were awesome.

Bottomline, a must see on opening weekend.

Grade: A

The Upside: A fast and aggressive film better than any monster movie ever, including the original Godzilla.

The Downside: Just another example on how CGI is slowly ruining films

On The Side: The film has carried many code-names including the likes of Slusho, Cheese, Monstrous, and Cloverfield which eventually became the actual name of the film.

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