One reviewer described J.J. Abrams’ latest as Godzilla meets The Blair Witch Project. If you’ve already seen Cloverfield, you’ll know that that’s a pretty accurate assessment. In a day in age where science fiction films are delivered to the masses in neat, little turds, Cloverfield is a very welcome diversion. The idea for the film is great. New York City is attacked by a monster and the ensuing carnage is all caught on Bourne-style shaky-cam. We’re all used to the Godzilla movies, where this or that monster runs around pissed off, knocking down buildings, so it was really cool to see Cloverfield approach an established premise from a fresh angle. The monster attacking the city has been at the bottom of the ocean for thousands of years, and now, all of a sudden, it finds itself under attack in an alien environment. It’s scared, and it’s that fear that prompts its rampage throughout the city.
In addition to this big-ass, scary monster are much smaller monsters who run around doing their own thing. In one scene, Clover (as the monster is referred to in the movie’s production notes) scratches it’s back up against a building, and these smaller, grasshopper-like things fall off him and onto the ground. There’s a really good scene with these guys as the main characters are making their way through a subway tunnel. What’s great about these monsters is that the audience only sees them in small, second-long snippets scattered throughout the movie. The camera work is very amateurish (obviously intentional) buts really adds to the overall suspense. For some reason, there’s always something scarier about the things we don’t know about, about the things we can’t see.
Drew Goddard (Lost) was able to write a lot of believable dialog, something movies like this generally lack, and the acting is pretty good. Still, there are a few scenes that just ring a little too unbelievable. The movie’s A story is obviously the monster, but there’s a subplot involving Rob Hawkins’ (Michael Stahl-David) search for his lady love, Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman). This is where a few of the movie’s beats fall flat. There’s a monster knocking buildings over and these parasites are falling from the sky, biting people and making them explode, but let’s head up midtown to rescue this girl I slept with this one time. It’s good to have a side story like this to make the movie a little more personal, but sometimes the scale of the A story and the scale of the B story don’t line up with each other.
One thing that took away from my enjoyment of the movie (which had nothing to do with the movie itself) was the legion of thirteen-year-olds who had the day off from school AND ALL DECIDED TO COME SEE THE SAME F***ING MOVIE AS ME. All the giggling, talking, and… crumping, or whatever the hell else they do really got old. My greatest fear is that my own children will become like them. Anyway, you may find yourself in a similar situation. Beware.
The movie does contain the teaser trailer for the new Star Trek flick, which is being helmed by Abrams and comes out this Christmas. The trailer shows the Enterprise under construction in drydock. After a few shots of this, Leonard Nimoy delivers the classic, “Space. The final frontier.” What little the trailer shows looks really promising. After so many missteps, it’s good to see the franchise being treated right. Here’s a pic from the trailer, if you haven’t seen it already…
Overall, I found Cloverfield to be an enjoyable ride, although it didn’t quite live up to all the hype. I’m really interested to see what special features they throw onto the DVD. I hear they’ll have some cut footage of a second monster that was also attacking New York City. B