Starring: Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David,
Mike Vogel, Michael Stahl-David
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Produced By: Sherryl Clark, Guy Riedel,J.J. Abrams
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Dramaand Thriller
Running Time: 1 hr. 24 min.
Release Date: January 18th, 2008 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terrorand disturbing images.
Distributors: Paramount Pictures
J.J. Abrams intrigued us last year with a teaser trailer that gave
no name, just an explosion in downtown Manhattan and the head of
the Statue of Liberty rolling down the street and a date -- that
was all. Genius if you ask me, but the real question is, does it
live up to all of the hype and speculation that followed? I can
attest that the answer is yes, it does.
Cloverfield is a Godzilla type movie yet both less
and more at the same time. Innovative storytelling told through
the lens of a video camera found in Central Park by the Department
of Defense with no narration, explanation or anything. The whole
story is told by the videotape recorded by a group of friends in
an eight hour period as they try to rescue another friend and escape
the city when a creature attacks New York.
On an intellectual level, Cloverfield should not
work at all. What little character development there is comes from
gaps on the tape where what was previously recorded comes through
in between the current action, showing bits and pieces of the two
main characters' past relationship. The ending really shouldn't
work either. It's abrupt and doesn't finish the story, but it does
give closure on our character's part. There is no explanation given
about where the creature came from, what it wants, or where it's
going. You never really even get a great shot of what the thing
looks like. And, to top it off, Cloverfield had a
budget of less than $30 to $50 million. For comparison, Will Smith's
I Am Legend had a budget of $150 million and for
the record, I enjoyed Cloverfield much more than
I Am Legend.
The acting is phenomenal when taken in context. No
deep conversations or useless dialogue to continue the story. Nope,
this is just four young adults scared out of their minds and doing
the best that they can. Due to the lack of character development
you don't really care who they are. The raw emotion of the situation
is enough to make you care what happens to these people who just
happen to live in the wrong city at the wrong time.
Only two small problems with the film: 1) the movie is shot entirely
with a hand-held camera, and if you are a regular reader of mine,
you know how much I hate theshaky-cam. But, I can forgive
it this time since the premise and style make up for it although
some people have complained of motion sickness due to the movement.
2), I know Manhattan is a small island, but still, the creature
just happens to be everywhere our group is. I find that just a tad
unbelievable, but then again, it is a monster movie.
Except for those two minor issues, Cloverfield is
one hell of a creative movie that delivers the terror and tension
in a whole new way.