Tuesday 5 February 2008

Review: Cloverfield

Year: 2008
Director: Matt Reeves
Screenplay: Drew Goddard
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman


Words can't describe how much I loved this film. I haven't left a cinema buzzing like this for a very long time. Cloverfield will have it's haters (heard of many a walk out) but for me this was a brilliant cinematic experince.

Cloverfield has been considered "godzilla for the youtube generation" and I can see why. Elements of video games like Half Life run rife throughout the film. When me, my girlfriend and some firend spoke about the movie afterwards we commented not on the destruction of New York City but the reaction of everyone on screen holding up camera phones. From the films pesudo-hand held feel, to the well documented hype, for a monster movie produced by the guy who "almost ruined Superman" Cloverfield is not only stylish but isn't dumb.

It's visuals envoke images of 9/11, not as a cheap showy trick but as a way to provoke the intensity of the situation. We don't get alot of character buliding but would you if you look at the context of the film. The monster is rearly seen for alot of the movie but it's lack on screen action only ups the ante. You could see this thing at any time, and the monster has a true feeling of unpredictablity that has been rearly seen in a movie like this in a while.

The story? Well we are shown a group of young people preparing for a party for their good friend who is leaving town to become a vice president of a company in Japan after a brief mingle and some of the guests dealing with their relationship issues...a temor is felt...then havoc breaks loose.

Havoc it is. After the first 15 minutes, Cloverfield has one thing on it's mind; keeping the tension going. The movie is filmed as if it were by a partygoer and the amatuer cameramans awakward reactions and movements keep pace and unease at boiling point. Once the monster is rife in Manhattan the suspense is constant. Don't worry about those questions that would be answered in real life. For me I didn't have time to dwell on them, for me they were irrelevent as the pace and the pure excitement of the film was (excuse the ghetto) OFF DA HOOK!

To help aid things the preformances of the unknown actors are quite strong. We don't get to find out much about them but their preformances manage for cover the characterization. This however is an asset to the film. The shock is there, but you need to keep moving, the characters preform it well and need the audience to follow suit (youtube generation et all).

The use of unknowns is a perfect for the film, with standouts being the film "lead" Michael Stahl-David and the comic relief T.J Miller playing the Cameraman who is named Hud (geddit?). Stahl-David has enough presence and talent to make his brief moments of emotion effecting while Miller has all the best lines. Most of the females in the movie however are not given time to show what they got in anything apart from tight bodies and small moments of distress but it doesn't matter as like I said imeditatcy is the key.

Director Matt Reeves and the much more famous producer J.J have taken a huge risk with this film and for me they have succeeded. The hype and mystery surrounding the film ape that of The Blair Witch Project along with it's modest budget and unknown actors. However while TBW left a lot of people short changed (not me, I love the films atmoshpere and preformances), Cloverfield delivers in many areas that others may not think that TBW does. The film has the ability to shock and excite. it's what it was made for and it's what it does...tenfold. It's been a while since I've been in a cinema in which the film left everyone in an errie hush after watching.
Cloverfield did it's job. I await the DVD.