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Cloverfield Review

Cloverfield: Something's Coming. . . And It's Awesome

I am genuinely surprised by how much I love Cloverfield, the JJ Abrams-produced monster movie which, despite being heavily promoted through viral marketing schemes, has largely managed to remain shrouded in mystery up until today's release. The viral stuff was starting to get exhausting — and ridiculous — and I worried that all this hubbub would be for naught, and all of us Abrams fans would be fiercely disappointed. I was wrong. It's not going to win tons of awards, but in the genre of monster movies, this is one of the best I've ever seen.


Filmed in the shaky-cam style of Blair Witch Project, it's a little nauseating at first, but easy to get used to. Enough time has passed since the Blair Witch Project that this seems like a legitimate cinematic technique again. In fact, it works better this time around since technology in everyday life has become more common, every public event nabbed immediately on dozens of cameras and cameraphones. It's not so unusual that a crazy monster attack on New York would be caught on a 20-something's video camera. And this is exactly what happens. To find out what else goes on,

.

The bulk of the action begins with a surprise bon voyage party for Rob (Michael Stahl-David) being thrown by his brother Jason (Mike Vogel) and Jason's girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas). While prepping for the party, Jason gives his friend Hud (T.J. Miller) the camera, instructing him to take testimonials from the guests. Yet Hud never really puts the camera down, even when the party learns that the city is under attack — by a monster. From here the party spins into panic mode and everyone scatters while the monster slips around buildings, glimpses of it caught in the light of helicopters. A group of partygoers try to stay together and set out to find their friend Beth (Odette Yustman).

The best part about the story is also the best part about the storytelling technique. The movie truly begins with the original footage on the videotape: Rob filming his longtime crush Beth in bed, groggily waking up from their night together. Throughout the entirety of the film, this taped-over footage is slipped between super intense monster scenes, providing a jolting — and much-needed — shift from tension to relief, from a horrible present to a happier past.

In general, I think Abrams does well with this balancing act, though it's unclear how much of the end product of Cloverfield is him and how much is director Matt Reeves. This balance is probably the best thing about the movie: this perfect combination of tension and relief, anticipation and action, "real-life" drama and humor. They did well to have the cameraperson, our narrator of sorts, be Hud, a bumbling guy whose baffled quips from behind the camera often provide comedic relief. The movie never gets too precious and never takes itself too-too seriously. And still, when that monster is on screen it’s really, really scary.

As a sidenote, there are some absurdities that will simply have to be swallowed, like when the group — some of them in heels — walks from Spring Street in Manhattan to 59th Street in very little time and with no physical consequence. There aren't too many of these outrageous things, though, and by the end of the film, all is forgiven.

The movie so easily sets up the possibility of sequels (there could be any number of these "recovered videos" from the monster attack, and could even find one from every major city), so definitely expect to see Cloverfields 2-10 or so. There is, in fact, something hoarsely whispered at the very end, after the credit roll (yes, I geekily stayed in the theater through the entire credit roll, made rather enjoyable by the choral piece "Roar!" which was specially composed for Cloverfield), but I couldn't make out the words. If you're a nerd like me and stay through the credits, let me know what you think is said.

To see the trailer and more clips from Cloverfield check out movies.ivillage.com.

Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures


Around The Web
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Join The Conversation
Lisara Lisara 8 years
I saw this movie this past weekend with my husband and we both loved it. My only complaint, along with many other people it would seem, is the shaky cam. But honestly that was it. And I caught something in the last few seconds of the film that was kinda interesting. I don't want to post it because it might be spoilerish. But if you want to know, feel free to message me. It has to do with the very last clip of pre-taped Rob and Beth at Coney Island, and something in the background.
whiteiris whiteiris 8 years
Ooooh great movie! I really enjoyed this one, which was a pleasant surprise since I have never gotten into monster movies before. Oh, and yiddidea? Lily did ditch her heels! Or at least stopped wearing them--when they start climbing all those stairs you see her carrying them & she is barefoot later on too. But I do agree, if I were her I'd have dumped my heels LONG before then! :-)
susanec susanec 8 years
We sat way back in a huge theater and didn't get any of the nausea at all. It's a cool concept and was fun but I don't think it lives up to the hype completely. At least it gives you more payoff than some Bad Robot projects and I do like Drew Goddard but meh, not sure. Or maybe it pales after seeing There Will Be Blood right before it.
yiddidea yiddidea 8 years
I really enjoyed this film! It took the best part of a monster movie and cut out all the annoying sub-plots. The camera work didn't actually bother me at all, which was surprising. I do wish that the one girl had ditched her heels at some point, as that was probably the most unbelievable part of the movie for me. ;)
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
really excited to see this! i hope it lives up to the hype for me. :) oh, and thanks everyone for the tips on sitting farther back! That should help with the nausea.
mswindang mswindang 8 years
i dunno, i saw this movie and i hated it. i think the only draw it has to the audience is the unique way it was filmed and the effects and all that monster stuff but the story line is a total crap. its pretty much a sloppy love story to me. i didn't like it at all. and yes, i got nauseated because of the shaking but it does draw you to the thrill of the running and everything. but the story.. sucked BIG TIME!
lilmisslainey lilmisslainey 8 years
i really enjoyed the movie. I sat really far back in the theater and I think that helped with the dizziness. I thought it was amazing how much the characters were developed with so little plot. I cared about them all a lot. People who were annoyed with the ending obviously aren't familiar JJ Abrams recent work...a little show called "LOST"!!?!?! The endless black hole of unsolved mysteries.
avienndha avienndha 8 years
I loved it...the monster was sooo cool looking. I love special effects. I wasn't so crazy about any of the characters really, but it moves pretty fast and the effects are really what made it for me anyways. I loved it, my husband on the other hand hated it.
miss-britt miss-britt 8 years
I thought it was awesome. I'm still shaking from the adrenaline rush it gave me. i have to agree with menthadict, there were some scenes where i turned to my mom and was like, that's can't be. Maybe they just didn't show the tape of them walking that far,but then i was like because it's a train station don't they make short cuts? maybe just saying. And the whole beth thing kind of got on my nerves. But i kind of hope they don't do a cloverfield 2 etc, i think this was too perfect to be topped. Oh yeah Marlena was the goth girl in Mean Girls, just so you know. :/
kikidawn kikidawn 8 years
I'm excited to see this movie.. a little freaked out already :) I get really scared at 'scary movies' Brunettebabe, I looked at the cast on IMDB http://imdb.com/title/tt1060277/fullcredits#cast and it doesn't list Blake anywhere on there (that I found....)
pee-wee113506 pee-wee113506 8 years
I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!!!
the-makeup-blogette the-makeup-blogette 8 years
I enjoyed the movie, watched it yesterday without a clue to the plot and i felt like i am one of the characters in the movie.
brunettebabe brunettebabe 8 years
does anyone know why every list of the cast includes blake lively (gossip girl), yet she wasn't in the movie at all?
Imani33 Imani33 8 years
I just saw the movie tonight.....freaking awesome! I was screaming and jumping in my seat! I felt like I was in the movie! The documentary style takes a while to get use to but I don't think I would have filmed the movie any other way! GO see Cloverfield!!!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
I've been tinkering with some pictures at the www.011808.com site.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 8 years
As monster movies go, pretty gosh darn excellent. That is all.
taraevans94 taraevans94 8 years
"YARN"? really? hahaha... I love it when people try to bash something and end up sounding like idiots because they don't proof read their posts before posting. haha... You know, I've never seen The Blair Witch Project - I'm probably the only one. I just heard about the shaky camera work and how it doesn't really show anything except a bunch of people telling you they're scared... so it didn't really appeal to me. This movie, however, sounds very cool. I'd like to see it but I think I'll probably end up watching it on DVD. Too busy these days with homework to rush out and see it right now.
thewriter thewriter 8 years
YARN, yet another film built on crap!
specialksgurl specialksgurl 8 years
I loved this movie!! I was ticked off it was only an hour and 17 min. long, but it was really good. I wasn't scared particularly but the movie is definitely thrilling! My husband and I were in awe at the effects (can you imagine having to put in special effects into shaky camera film?). Very well executed. Bravo!!
xiaoxue xiaoxue 8 years
apparently it said 'its still alive' BACKWARDS.. here's the link to listen to it. http://boomp3.com/m/bd034dfca370
coachluvr33 coachluvr33 8 years
My husband and I saw it last night. I was nauseous because of the camera Blair Witch style filming, but the movie itself was very very good. Some people behind us were mad at the end and said it sucked, but I thought it was very good and very creepy. I LOVE J.J. Abrams though. He is very talented (Remember Felicity?) It is creepy and scary and just really good.
Kelly-O Kelly-O 8 years
I've gotten sucked into the viral stuff and cannot wait to see this.
clareberrys clareberrys 8 years
I just saw this last night with my boyfriend! I LOVED IT~!!! I didn't know what to expect, but this movie was truly perfect! It had all the right qualities of a good movie and all the actors were really good! Don't let anyone tell you differently! If you dont like it then you don't have good taste in movies!!!! I would definitely see a sequel to this and I'm usually not about sequels!! Best movie of the year!
pinkberry pinkberry 8 years
i cant wait to watch this :)
wynter wynter 8 years
I thought this movie was great! It said "It's still alive" after the credits.
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