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Jan 30, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Cloverfield

What is left to be said about Cloverfield? I've read probably 20 reviews since it was released a week and a half ago, and they're all right in one form or another. Some have praised it as a visceral moviegoing experience, an allegory for 9/11 and the birth of a new form of cinema. Others have claimed it to be nothing more than an idea, a shell and sham of a movie created by marketers, complete with bad acting, bad judgement by the characters and a frustrating third act.

To which I say: yes. Cloverfield is all these things. People are reading too much into it, looking for answers where there lies only more questions, creating a mystery where there isn't really one to be had. But that's the point, of not only being a fan but of being creator J.J. Abrams, right?

Just as its cinematic predecessor The Blair Witch Project did with the ghost story, Cloverfield starts as nothing more than a simple (but brilliant) idea: what would a monster movie look like through the eyes of the people running from the monster. That's really all it took to jump start a mini-phenomenon. Around that simple premise, 6 or so characters were born, as was a Godzilla-like monster. Throw in a decapitated Statue of Liberty and stretch it out to 90 minutes or so and you have an instant blockbuster.

But where others might have gone wrong, the makers of Cloverfield acted wisely, eschewing many of the things we've come to expect from blockbusters. You won't find product placements for Chrysler or Doritos, nor will you get a wink-wink overacting cameo from a lovable character actor. The laws of physics won't be flouted, nor will the characters turn into Superman and Wonder Woman. There will be no hot single from the band of the moment blaring over the end credits, and the dialogue won't make you wish you watched the film with the mute button pressed.

The end result is a quasi-intelligent, non-insulting, popcorn-stuffed roller coaster ride that serves its purpose in spades, giving the audience all the smashy destruction it can take, all the while staying true to its concept and delivering some mystery with its mayhem. Dig too far and you're bound to come up with logic issues (Worth the trip for Beth? What was Marlena thinking? Can the camcorder battery really last that long? Was that Dumbo dropping into the ocean?), but to do so is to miss the point. Sit back, take a couple Dramamine and enjoy the show.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"


12 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Cloverfield"

Nayana Anthony said...

Kudos, Fletch. Great review. I think you hit the nail on the head.

Nick said...

Good one! It was funny, because I had just read an article about movies with directors that are overshadowed by somebody else involved (usually producers), which was inspired by this movie. I was incredibly surprised by some of the ones I found on that list.

WampaOne said...

Nice review Fletch. Now I am really looking forward to this one

Clive Dangerously said...

With all due respect... Nokia. It was EVERYWHERE. Well, not everywhere, but everyone's phones were Nokia, there was a big Nokia shelf in the electronics store and another Nokia ad in the subway.

Of course, it took three viewings to notice, and obviously didn't detract from my enjoyment, considering I voluntarily saw it three times.

Fletch said...

@ Nick - link? That sounds like a good article.

@ Clive - Good point. I can't say I recall that, but I haven't seen the flick thrice. Also, when I was writing this, I assumed that the camcorder (that filmed it all wink wink) would have gotten a big ol' endorsement, but I couldn't recall anything.

Still, it couldn't have been on the level of "GM vehicles are the good guys!" in Transformers, could it? Or "every vehicle in "The Matrix (Reloaded, at least) is a GM!"

Daniel G. said...

"Dig too far and you're bound to come up with logic issues (Worth the trip for Beth? What was Marlena thinking? Can the camcorder battery really last that long? Was that Dumbo dropping into the ocean?), but to do so is to miss the point."

This is the key piece that divides everybody's opinion on the movie I think, based on what I've read. It's clear in my review that I did take the digging route and ended up dissatisfied, but I totally understand your side of it (and good points), too.

David said...

Great review. I heard others say that there was no relation to The Blair Witch Project, but just as you said it was just in a different genre and done right. It was fun to see and the more I thought about it after I had left the more I liked it.

Nick said...

Fletch: here's the article...
http://www.ifc.com/news/article?aId=22012

Nayana Anthony said...

OK, clive is right... I hadn't thought about it again until now, but I do remembering A LOT of product placement. Maybe that's part of how they kept the budget at only $25 million.

Fletch said...

Thanks, Nick. That's a great article. In the case of The Last Kiss, I would think Tony Goldwyn would be glad. That was a gawdawful movie...

Rob said...

Just got back from the cinema. Didnt really connect with the characters, didnt care if they died or not. I thought Rob the main character was meant to be intelligent - just got a VP job, but he makes stupid decisions and his friends and the authorities let him get away with it - all for love. The jerky hand held approach and flashing lights caused me to come out of the cinema with a head ache and I vomited I can only put this down to the effects as I feel fine now.
Good effects, sort of scary monster, other things derivative of Alien and other sci fi monsters etc (maybe an honourable nod in their direction by the director)

Just didn't really get it.

Honeul said...

Nice review.. I saw the movie and looks like a Blair witch project.. but this movie sucks.. I don't like it..