Film Reviews


By • Jan 18th, 2008 •

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You’re at a going-away party, enjoying the upbeat atmosphere in the trendy SoHo loft, maybe witnessing some little bursts of romantic drama around you, when suddenly- BOOM! There’s a distant explosion. Before you know it, something alive is destroying buildings smaller than its mean-spirited self, rampaging past and above the now ruined loft as it spews out human-being sized hungry offspring. It’s a Godzilla movie told from the point of view of a fleeing extra.

In CLOVERFIELD there are no scientists in lab coats trying to comprehend and destroy the beast. Our protagonists are a group of confused, terrified, hip, twenty-somethings. They don’t know what is hitting them. One of these panicked yups is armed with a video camera. He’s taken it upon himself to document everything that happens as he and his buddies venture back into the monster’s path to rescue our hero’s girlfriend, who is trapped in one of the many monster-ravished buildings.

Like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, CLOVERFIELD is presented to us via hand-held consumer video camera. Very often, our vision is not steady. It’s shaky, very often it spurts. Despite news articles about CLOVERFIELD’s audience-members becoming dizzy while subjected to all the big shaky screen camerawork, I found the shaky-cam gimmick very restrained, paying more attention to the monster and the frightened humans in it’s path, rather than saying “Ohhh, lookie at the cool camera angles!”. It wasn’t so much like BLAIR WITCH, it was more like LADY IN THE LAKE, the 40’s noir film shown entirely from the point of view of the protagonist, a private eye.

This is one of the few times in the giant monster genre where we watch the pain and suffering of those caught in a city being ripped to shreds by a monster (The last time we really got that was from the 1954 GODZILLA.) The tape-recording this onslaught is erasing over is month-old home movie footage of our heroes in happier times, visiting Coney Island. The big web uproar right now is that if you look way in back of our hero in Coney Island, you can see something splash and explode over the distant Atlantic Ocean. A meteor? Terrorists? At the very least, it’s Producer J.J Abrams letting loose great internet marketing to get people to see his movie more than once. Smart move, J.J. Your film is doing quite well, but there are flaws.

While CLOVERFIELD is a fresh spin on the Godzilla formula, our heroes have stumbled out of a typical sitcom. (Some critics dub this film as “Godzilla vs. Friends”) How many times have we seen movie friends, couples, whoever, bicker and fight, then we cue up a major calamity (i.e natural disaster, kidnapping, a neighborhood-sized monster) and now everybody values the precious moments we have together. Please, no more with this clunky movie cliche! The film has its share of logic problems that may upset audience members who want their monster banana split sprinkled with logic and accuracy. I won’t give anything away, but there’s a way-too-friendly soldier who spews out secret plans to our ordinary-citizen heroes. Their video camera takes quite the beating. (I got a few drops of water on my HDV video camera and it shut down for a week!) However, you look at the great rampaging monster movies: – KING KONG, GORGO, THEM!, – and logic is usually out the window anyways! Overall, CLOVERFIELD delivers!

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