Monday, January 21, 2008

Cloverfield review

After all the hype, and all the crazed Slusho fueled nights it's finally here. Cloverfield has landed, and Bad Robot has delivered on exactly what it promised us the first time we saw that head fly down the street so many months ago. A pretty kickass monster movie, with amazing effects, a few good jolts, and the unforgiving pulverizing destruction of downtown Manhattan.

Cloverfield delivers a great honest to god edge of your seat action film. The shocks are riddled throughout, and I was legitimately worried when I saw some of the things I won't spoil by talking about here. Maybe most immediate on everyone who has seen the film yet's mind though, is yes the monster itself is unbelievably awesome and destructive and you get lots of great and grisly views of it. This film never pretends to be something its not. It gives you just enough character investment and emotional story to string together what I consider a suitably plausible plotline where our heroes feel its necessary to travel directly into the path of mayhem, and then it lets loose with the extremely fucked up consequences of that decision.

I don't want to feel like I have to defend this film, but I do think that other people might have a decidedly different reaction to it than me. My advice, don't go into Cloverfield expecting it to be a weighty drama, don't expect always super logical situations, characters, or motivations. The biggest complaints I've heard from people who see this movie are that it wasn't this or it wasn't that, it didn't meet their lofty expectations, but let's try to look at what it is because I honestly don't think this film needs any more than it has.

Think of the technical work done here. It's amazing the effort that obviously went into making this film. The effects on the whole are SO good, you honestly don't even realize your not watching the real city in ruins, until of course you run across the literally one or two scenes that are obvious set pieces. But those are totally forgivable, because everything else seems to be the real deal and it's the fact of the work, planning, and execution I know must've gone into of the hundreds of other shots that I barely had time to absorb, that were so real I just innately believed them, that this film deserves huge accolades. The camera work, which while not as bad as Blair Witch, might make some viewers a bit nauseous (try sitting a bit further back), is overall great and extremely organic feeling. As is most of the acting; at least in their expression of terror and determination. Yes, I understand how incredulous the story is, but other than some clunky dialogue here and there, especially at the beginning, and a few extremely convenient camera angles, this film feels totally real. And that is a feat that should not be undervalued.

Overall I really enjoyed this film. It was immensely satisfying to finally see it after all of my ponderous film-stalking, and thankfully it did not disappoint. For me, Cloverfield managed to be exactly what I was expecting, and hoping for. Does it make my list of top films ever? no probably not... But if I were to rank it among the various giant monster movies I've seen, I would easily put it up alongside Gojira, and Kong, as one of the best, and it's certainly the best monster film of recent years.

If you do get a chance I'd highly recommend checking out Cloverfield. For me it was really a cool film that was well worth the wait. If you can go in expecting a fun ride, with a lot of monstrous action, and just let the craziness take over I think you'll enjoy yourself a lot too.

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