Frantic action in “Cloverfield”

Several months have I anticipated Cloverfield; even while it was known only by its release date 01-18-2008, I was hyped up over the movie. Actually, I remember distinctly speculating about the movie based upon the earliest teasers; was it a Godzilla remake? a Voltron movie? or something else entirely?

And something else entirely is exactly what this film delivered. I cannot say that the film was substantially more than what was shown in the previews because it wasn’t; I give the filmmakers kudos for giving exactly what was promised within the trailers — nothing more, nothing less.

We are thrown into the world some New York friends ((No, not those Friends.)) throwing a goodbye party for Rob who is to be leaving for Japan to take a job. One of these friends, Hud, ((I’m unsure if “Hud” is a play off of HUD or not, but as the cameraman for the bulk of the film, it would certainly fit.)) is given the job of documenting the night so that Rob would be able to relive those moments with his friends anytime with the ease of pressing play.

These introductory moments of the film serve not only to introduce us to the characters and the uncertain relationship status of Rob and Beth, but it also gives us a chance to acclimate ourselves to the film’s style — when I say that the film was recorded on a hand-held camera, I mean that and everything that goes along with it — the camera’s view shakes, spins around, and cuts in odd places as the film’s characters operate the device.

This may make some people nauseated, but I do not hold that against the film. Rather, the style worked and delivered a sense of urgency, suspense, and realness throughout the movie which otherwise would not have been there.

The stars of “Cloverfield”

Now be careful: Cloverfield doesn’t try to win you over with superstar acting or artful directing; it is a no-holds-barred look into the perspective of a few twenty-somethings who happen to be in Manhattan on the wrong night. We are right there with them, along for the ride of their lives.

I’ve heard the style of the movie compared to that of a first-person video game, except instead of carrying around a vast array of high tech weaponry, we’re armed to the teeth with a video camera. I really like this comparison because it is easy for me to identify with the character I am supposed to be in first-person games ((In that regard, I’ve been James Bond more often than any Hollywood actor, ever.)), and just as that draws you deeper into the plot of the game, so to does the first-person perspective bring us deeper into the movie.

Is the plot deep enough to immerse yourself into? It’s by no means an ocean, but it doesn’t pretend to be. There’s a modest love story, a freaking huge monster attacking a city which freaking huge monsters seem attracted to, ((Case in point: The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.)) lots of explosions, even more screams, and ginormous parasites. ((It’s okay; lice is nice.))

Lady Liberty decapitated in “Cloverfield”

Cloverfield kept me excited throughout its ninety-minute run time. The actors did a great job of portraying ordinary people in an extraordinary circumstance; they did such a good job, in fact, that no single performance seemed to outshine any of the others. The characters seemed real, and we get to know nothing more about them save for what you would ordinarily get out of someone within just over an hours’ time while fleeing certain death at the hands of a monster that makes Godzilla look like Yoshi.


Stop reading now if you do not wish certain aspects of the movie to be spoiled. If you stop reading here, then suffice it to say that I highly recommend Cloverfield to anyone looking for ninety-minutes of exciting, edge-of-your-seat movie.

And a monstrous menace it was, so much so that there is some speculation that a bit of whispered dialogue at the end of the credits states that the creature is still alive — after having had nuclear weaponry used against it. Traditional weaponry — from bullets to a variety of explosives — seemed to have no effect whatsoever on the creature, and so one is left wondering what it is… Is it a creature of old Earth, as the Balrog was to Middle Earth? Is it a god akin to those in Lovecraft’s lore? ((Two references to literature I have not read in a row; I really need to read more so I can feel better about some of these comparisons.)) What could be so invincible?

We are not told, nor are we presented with any hope that the creature can be stopped. Without any Kryptonians, Ultrazords, or Head & Shoulders in sight, we can only wonder how the tide is eventually turned.

What is obvious is that at some point, the aftermath of Manhattan is able to be explored and the memory card from Rob’s camera is recovered. Central Park at that point is codenamed “Cloverfield,” and (mostly) Hud’s footage details the incident. Does the fight against the creatures continue on? We are not told.

And that kind of uncertain ending worked really well with this film, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for an exciting movie.

5 thoughts on “Cloverfield”

  1. First comment on your newly revamped website, Rick!
    I did not see Cloverfield (yet). I did download the CAM version that hit the torrent world a couple days ago. However, after watching 10-15 minutes of it, I realized that I was watching a handheld camera filming of another handheld camera film… I wasn’t ever sure if those people crossing the screen were actually in the movie instead of in the movie thater…

    And so I will go see this movie in theaters in a coupe days. It will be worth it, I’m sure.

  2. Smumdax — You’ll enjoy the movie! Also, if you did sign up for a gravatar, it isn’t showing up here yet. I refreshed the local cache, and it still didn’t pull a gravatar down from their server for you.

  3. Rick, Great review by the way. I like how you summarized things. It seems that people either love this movie or hate it. I’m on the loving end probably due my anticipation of it and like of Abrams directing style.

    Good to see that you have imagination too and didn’t want nor expected to have a movie hand-feed you every little thing you should think about it. :)


    Oh, I found you through Chris P.’s site on his themes. Checking into using one of them. Nice site you’ve got here.

  4. Jami — Oh my… I just went over to check out your site when I initially saw your comment, and it didn’t even occur to me that you’re using the same theme which I’m using here! I think that confirms it… My powers of observation are nonexistent. :)

    Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the movie. Hollywood needs more films like this — that don’t shy away from trying something stylistically new, while not hand-holding the audience through every plot development.

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