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Cloverfield(2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Matt Reeves

Starring:
Michael Stahl-David/Rob
Mike Vogel/Jason
Lizzy Caplan/Marlena
T.J. Miller/Hud
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Rob’s (Stahl-David) surprise "going away" bash winds up being a bigger surprise with more bashing than anybody attending could’ve imagined. Out of nowhere, some enormous Iguana looking thing stomps into Manhattan, drops its monstrous kiddies to the ground and starts a shin-dig of its own…a WAR party! YEEHAW!
THE LOWDOWN

My name is Robert Hawkins. Approximately seven hours ago something attacked the city. If you found this, if you're watching this then you probably know more about it than I do. - Rob

I was one of the few within my immediate circle that didn’t get sucked into the whole CLOVERFIELD hype machine; for reasons that only my shrink and his dumb as a clock wife (see ya next Tuesday Susan) knows for sure. The movie just didn’t appeal to me, no matter the marketing angle they “Frisbeed” my way. So I sneaked into the theatre with little to no expectations and wound up having a gay (no not that kind of gay) old time at the movies.

CLOVERFIELD was JURASSIC PARK in Manhattan but shot without a tripod. It was THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT with a budget, Godzilla’s cousin and no snot. It was the Kim Kardashian sex tape without Kardashian sucking a meat puppet with skill and glee. The film’s “seen through the eyes of a broheem with a DV camera” approach worked in its favor and against it. On a positive note, I commend this bad-boy for slyly sucking me into its world, making me feel safe and amongst friends via its endearing “going away party” first block. It acted as a proficient way to establish characters/relationships and as a bang-on set-up since, well, it all felt so damn authentic. That "reality"vibe went on to sucker punch me hardcore when the shite hit the shite and everybody was shite out of shite.

Being that I was so involved in the situation and that I bought it wholesale – once the Statue of Liberty’s head came a flying and the mucho grande bugger popped out to say “wassup” – my ass got whooped, plus taxes. What followed was a quasi-interactive rollercoaster ride with my sorry ass thrown right in with our small group of heroes running for their lives. Throughout this watch, I was searching the screen like a stalker, stalking in overtime, I “wowed” when Mr. Scary-Lizard surfaced to bust chops and I smiled in delight when a potent fright sequence would jab me in the nads. Damn, I even caught myself ducking a couple of times; yes… ducking. At what? Beats me! But that’s how well the flick worked me.

The fact that CLOVERFIELD focused on the "people" and was driven by a love story first rubbed me the right way as well. You don't see monster movie handled like this everyday! As for the love thang, nothing novel, but hey, it’s universal so I could relate to it. Moreover, I really boogied to the way the romantic angle was communicated: via the events happening “now” AND the remains of a prior recording that were on the “tape” that we were watching. Very clever and yes… sweet…ahhhhh! Add to all that loving; a swift pace (I relished that 90 minutes running time), AMAZING visual effects (top notch CGI in this house), strong acting by all and ingenious creature designs that felt distinctive as opposed to a rip on what we’ve already seen and you get a creature feature that didn’t re-invent the wheel, it just span it in its own direction.

Alas, straight up, my eyes were on fire when I walked out of the theater. You thought BLAIR WITCH was the motion sickness king of genre films; f*ck that noise taco-bean, we have a new champ: CLOVERFIELD! Less shaky cam stuff would’ve been swell. I mean was the dude shooting drunk or not drunk enough? I swear he couldn’t shoot steady for more than 3 seconds at a time. That half effective/half maddening ploy also had me begging for more creature fun. I mean sure, teasing us with glimpses of the reptilian swine added to its fear quota, but simultaneously, I kept craving seeing more of it. Same thing happened with the mini-beasties (who came with quite the gnarly sound design) – I freaking LOVED THEM but sadly they were underused. We needed at least 2 more horror scenes with those suckers at play.

Finally, suspension of disbelief had to kick in terms some dumb character moves and the issue of “why is this mook still filming when the world is ending around him and there’s a monster up his skirt”? I didn’t buy it at times. For example, the last thing I would do when crawling from one cloud glazing high-rise rooftop to another; is put the camera over my shoulder and film medium but that’s just me. Just toss the camera in the trash, use both hands to get to safety and then run to Tibet to start your own cult (funnily enough, that scene was where the guy was at his most steady camera shot wise). And was it me or was nobody filming near the end when only two people were left? Yet filming still ensued. Hmmm...

All in all CLOVERFIELD gave me some good scares, made me laugh and had me forget my troubles for a buck and a half. It got the job done! A masterpiece? Nah, it was well done for sure but just don’t think too hard about it afterwards. So you going to Clover this Field or what?
GORE
We’re treated to deep scratches, bite marks and blood splashes. Nothing to write home to Granny about.
ACTING
Michael Stahl-David (Rob) carried the film and was my human anchor to the whole. It helped that he’s the actor we saw the most in “non coke fueled” cam shots. I love Mike Vogel (Jason) but I can’t say that his part was too memorable here. Lizzy Caplan (Marlena) had something about her that made me want to keep watching her. Big lips? Nice eyes? Charisma? All of the above? YES! T.J. Miller (Hud) brought in some well timed and executed comic relief. He worked! Lili Mirojnick (Lei) had the looks and the chops to make the role happen.
T & A
Everyone at the screening was naked…in my mind…in…my…mind...
DIRECTING
Hard to critique this aspect. Let me put it this way; did the film succeed in making me accept that a colossal mammal took Manhattan (Voorhees did it first though…booya!) and that I was witness to it through some schlep filming the whole thing instead of saving his own hieney? YES!
SOUNDTRACK
No score here (This is “real” remember?), just the sound of the audience screaming and me dropping bombs. Damn Licorice… what do they put in that stuff?
BOTTOM LINE
CLOVERFIELD hooked me in early, frightened me silly, beat me up and even somewhat touched me (I'm a sucker for a good love story). I went with it and I had a blast! Sure some plot holes did arise, suspension of disbelief had to be applied and the shaky cam stuff hurt my eyes (Don't sit in the 3rd row like I did - DON'T DO IT!) and denied me from appreciating the film’s stellar visual effects to their fullest (Come on, the flick cost 30 Million to make - show it to me!) –but hey, what are you going to do. At the end of the kill; it was an engaging, fast paced and thrilling monster ride and as that; it rocked me! Get on this pony or don’t! Your call!
BULL'S EYE
The title Cloverfield was at first just a codename for the un-titled movie. The title is actually the name of a boulevard in Santa Monica where the movie's Prod Offices were.

The teaser trailer was shot on a digital camera before the feature entered production.

The flick was shot in California and of course New York.

VISIT THE CLOVERFIELD SITE HERE

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