Cloverfield is probably the most hyped movie of the summer, though most of the hype is probably just our own insane curiosity as to what the man behind Lost can do on the big screen with oodles of cash and presumably complete creative freedom.
Well, first things first, forget the hype and don’t assume you know anything about the movie. Cloverfield is a pure, unadulterated monster movie. It’s the Blair Witch project meets Godzilla, with a heap of JJ Abrams style thrown in for good measure.
More than anything, it’s the structure of Cloverfield that sets it apart from its predecessors. We are the YouTube generation and JJ has given us a movie that mimics our intense interest in getting up close and personal with complete strangers lives, a voyeuristic nature given free reign through the desire of others to be watched.
We’ve all seen the start of Cloverfield, the party scene with the hand held camera. It’s this style that runs through the whole movie, though somewhere along the way the quality switches from digital cam to high quality movie photography – just where I’m not sure, as I was glued to the screen.
The beginning of the movie is a lot slower than I had anticipated, it’s a long an tedious trip to the infamous party scene – maybe JJ is just trying to lull us into a sense relaxation, because when the action hits, it hit hard and fast.
The monster makes his first appearance just after the party and keeps popping up there after, cranking up the excitement and tension each time.
We follow a group of survivors through the city, trying to avoid the monster and rescue a friend, trapped in their apartment and like any good survival horror, slowly but surely the small group gets smaller.
All shot with seeming haphazardness, the photography is at times hard to stomach, with motion sickness a real threat at times. Quirky angles are in, as pivotal scenes are filmed cack-handed and sometimes out of focus, forcing the viewer to tilt their heads to try and see just a little more of the action.
One might mistake this as a way to cut corners and not have to pile the money into big budget special effects, but it is not, it’s all part of the tease, the tension and the gritty realness that JJ has gone for.
Indeed it is easy to see where the oodles of cash got spent, as the special effects are seamlessly integrated into the film, giving no real reason the believe that anything is computer generated. It’s movies like Cloverfield that make you appreciate the computer programmers and artists who fuel our terror with their imagination and creative skills.
The payoff? A well crafted tale, with some interesting elements. The pacing is great with plenty of action mixed in with slow periods to help you recover. The style of photography works well in keeping you on edge, showing you glimpses of the monster without ever giving too much away.
There’s a scene in the movie where I just sat back and chuckled, JJ must be a gamer I thought to myself, I can remember playing this scene in some video game a while back. Ok, so not that exact scene, but you know what I mean.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: M – Fantasy Violence.
Duration: 84 mins.
Genre: Action, Drama.
Actors: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller.
Director: Matt Reeves.
Release Date: Out now.