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Overall Rating
3.65

Awesome: 32.82%
Worth A Look35.88%
Average: 9.16%
Pretty Bad: 7.63%
Total Crap: 14.5%

9 reviews, 77 user ratings


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Cloverfield
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by Mel Valentin

"Don't believe the hype...wait, maybe you should."
4 stars

After a seemingly interminable wait (more like six months actually), "Cloverfield," the much hyped, much anticipated "Blair Witch Project"-meets-"Godzilla" flick from producer/writer/director J.J. Abramís ("Mission Impossible III," "Lost," "Alias," "Felicity") finally makes its big screen debut. Written by one of Abramís longtime collaborators and friends, Written by Drew Goddard "Lost," "Alias," "Angel," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and directed by another, Matt Reeves ("Felicity," "The Pallbearer"), itís hard to imagine "Cloverfield" living up to the anticipation built up through six months of viral-based marketing. Minus shallow characterizations, bland performances, and, at least for some moviegoers, nausea-inducing shaky cam-style and/or unsubtle 9-11 references, it does.

Pace Blair Witch Project, Abrams and his writing-directing team structure Cloverfield around a video file retrieved from a digital camcorder by the U.S. military in the aftermath of a destructive attack on Manhattan by a massive monster. The videotape starts with longtime friends turned one-time lovers Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman), waking up blissfully in bed on an April morning, then jumps forward several weeks as Robís brother, Jason (Mike Vogel), and his girlfriend, Lily Ford (Jessica Lucas), plan Rob's going away party (Robís headed to Japan for a promotion). Jason passes off videotaping chores to one of Robís friends, Hudson ďHudĒ Platt (T.J. Miller, heard, but rarely seen). Between videotaping testimonials to Rob's sterling qualities a friend and party host, Hud repeatedly hits on Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), an attractive partygoer with only a tangential connection to Rob, but she repeatedly rebuffs his awkward advances.

Beth shows up at the party with a date, angering Rob. After a brief altercation, Beth rushes out of the party. Moments later, shock waves from an earthquake-like event cuts off the building's power. Rushing to the roof, Rob and the others watch as something (or more accurately, some thing) attacks Manhattan. With Manhattan no longer safe, Rob and the others attempt to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, but the sudden appearance of the monster causes widespread panic, injuries, and death. After returning to Manhattan, Rob gets a phone call from Beth, injured and immobile in the monster's attack on midtown Manhattan. Rob decides to make the perilous trek back to midtown to rescue Beth. The monster, the half-arachnid, half-crab, dog-sized parasites, and a military willing to destroy Manhattan to stop the monster stand between Rob and his rescue of Beth.

Abrams, Goddard, and Reeves borrow heavily from the rampaging monster sub-genre that first wowed audiences with the 1924 adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, The Lost World (not to be confused with Michael Crichton's sequel to Jurassic Park) and, of course, the original 1933 version of King Kong, which set a giant ape loose on Manhattan in the third act. Jump forward two decades to Ray Harryhausen's first, full-length stop-motion animation effort, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (loosely based on a Ray Bradbury story published in the Saturday Evening Post), followed a year later by Toho Studiosí Godzilla ("Gojira" in Japanese) and on through thirty Godzilla feature films and imitators too numerous to list here.

When it comes to recent monster attacks, Manhattan has the underwhelming 1997 Godzilla remake to its ďcredit.Ē The Godzilla remake has relevance to Cloverfield via an advertising campaign that kept Godzilla hidden from movie audiences. Once moviegoers saw the redesigned, computer-animated Godzilla, they rejected him. While keeping the Cloverfield monster unseen in the trailers or advertisements risked a similarly negative reaction, Abrams and his collaborators didnít have to worry about any preconceptions or assumptions, as they would with a pre-established monster like Godzilla or King Kong. While we donít get to see much of the monster initially, the final reveal is every bit as impressive as Abrams' promised six months ago, thanks to artist Neville Page who designed the monster and Phil Tippettís visual effects artists, who converted Pageís ideas into computer-animated form.

Cloverfield won't win any awards or critical recognition for itís subversive genre take for (because itís not subversive), its performances (bland, mostly), or its storyline (simple, simplistic), but it accomplishes everything Abrams set out to do, giving audiences a tension-filled, visceral experience. Abrams creates a sense of immediacy or urgency, of order quickly devolving into large-scale chaos, of characters forced into survival mode from the handheld, shaky cam/jump cut style that a conventional style wouldnít convey (or wouldnít convey as effectively). Of course, all that style might be hard for moviegoers with sensitive stomachs to take, but Abrams didnít give that problem too much consideration.

Ultimately, "Cloverfield" is nothing more than a simple survival story structured around an equally simple, if skillfully executed, conceit. What "Cloverfield" doesnít offer are answers to basic questions about the monsterís origins or goals. Goddardís screenplay relies on coincidence and contrivance one too many times, but Abrams and his cohorts donít pull their punches when it comes to the ending, an ending almost as bleak and nihilistic as Frank Darabontís recent adaptation of Stephen Kingís novella, "The Mist," or Francis Lawrenceís adaptation of Richard Mathesonís classic science-fiction/horror novel, "I Am Legend." Maybe itís the zeitgeist thing (did someone say "post 9-11 fears and anxieties?"). Maybe itís just not. Either way, "Cloverfield" pays homage to the great and not so-great monster movies from the past while simultaneously reinvigorating a genre badly in need of an imagination transfusion.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16837&reviewer=402
originally posted: 01/18/08 16:00:00
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell a good creature feature 4 stars
2/08/17 Louise As soon as that stupid monster showed up, I knew it was a turkey. 1 stars
9/25/13 David Hollingsworth One of the more awesome/scary found footage films since 'Blair Witch". 5 stars
4/15/13 Durwood Cheezy Grade Z ripoff of Blair Witch and War of the Worlds--DON 1 stars
3/16/10 mr.mike If you can deal with shaky cam , it's good. Damn good. 4 stars
9/20/09 Eggy Swingleforte Oh dear! Get out the vomit bags... [plural] Sheer shite from the highest height. 1 stars
8/19/09 Jeff Wilder Great style. Not one iota of substance. 3 stars
6/03/09 carmen torres i really thought it was a piece of junk i got dizzy with the camara moving all the time 1 stars
3/25/09 Eric Pretty good, though I was bummed when delicious Mike Vogel bites it 20 minutes in. 4 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. such a cool movie, the ending sort of surprised me... 4 stars
12/19/08 Craig D. Best American monster movie since Jaws. 5 stars
11/09/08 daveyt It's ok, I liked the new take on monster, but Blair Witch was much better, yup I liked BW! 3 stars
10/07/08 Matt Hard to empathise with the characters when the picture jumps all over the place. 3 stars
9/18/08 Max A potent and visceral masterpiece 5 stars
9/11/08 Luke Good idea, terribly executed with little effort in the detail 1 stars
8/11/08 Jon G A unrealistic plot that felt disturbingly real 5 stars
7/27/08 Samantha Pruitt delivered, thought it was a lot of fun, great audience participation! 4 stars
7/12/08 AnnieG Not all that scary and it made my family motion-sick. 3 stars
6/26/08 Doug SHort and sweet 4 stars
6/23/08 Andrew Elkhoury Liked the fact that it was taped by a handy cam and still had great fx. 5 stars
6/16/08 Blop Hell I enjoyed this immensly, despite or because of low expectations 4 stars
6/16/08 CD This was entertaining at times but the camera was annoying and Hud more so. 2 stars
6/15/08 Sam Difficult to watch with the camera moving .. brainless.. 1 stars
6/06/08 Jessay I hated the characters, epic fail 1 stars
5/26/08 David Pollastrini Great FX! 5 stars
5/14/08 Joe Awsome movie, But the ending was very unsatisfactory. 4 stars
5/09/08 Misti K Good and scary... loved it! 4 stars
4/27/08 Jayme Isaacs An Excellent Movie 5 stars
4/24/08 action movie fan scares and thrils galore in the exviting godzilla meets blair witch sci fi adventure 4 stars
4/23/08 Jodi I thought this film was ok, but I wanted to throw up most of the movie from shaky camera 3 stars
4/04/08 Jessica Bielzebub Makes THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT look like a best cinematography winner. 2 stars
3/28/08 Piz A great jump since Blair Witch, and awesome for such a low budget. Was bummed when it ended 4 stars
3/24/08 wnm Cool idea, poorly executed. Subplot stuff came off extremely boting, footage unrealistic 3 stars
3/07/08 wertyboy movie masterpiece, suspense horrow violence and even some humour in their, its a MUST see 5 stars
2/17/08 Zoolook the Awesome Mudkip Meh...nothing spectacular, and the monster looked like a giant Swampert. google and compare 2 stars
2/13/08 elisa perkins The shaky camera work was what made this movie crazy scary. 5 stars
2/05/08 M .Alan Aviseral Masterpeice 5 stars
2/05/08 Paul Shortt Besides disinterest, the only emotion it incites is the emotion of wanting to throw up 1 stars
2/05/08 MP Bartley Nothing new as such, but it uses its concept brilliantly. 4 stars
2/04/08 Advantus Good film. Leaves you wanting more. Where is the prequel? 4 stars
2/03/08 Nick really loved it, the best godzilla-monster movie ever! 5 stars
2/02/08 Alex Thorne This film was everything i wanted it to be. finally, something worth all the hype! 5 stars
2/02/08 Quigley An amazingly effective sci-fi adventure. Stays with you for days afterwards 5 stars
1/30/08 john wonderful ... fine ... a blast ... yippeee ... clever 5 stars
1/30/08 Ming I hate the shaky camera...a bad movie..Why you people like this garbage..... 2 stars
1/30/08 gcc Very innovative filmmaking, felt very real & scary unlike typical CGI monster flicks 4 stars
1/28/08 Jeff Smith Awesome, completely gripping if you can stomach the hand-held camera 5 stars
1/27/08 Bill Kept me entertained. It didn't take itself too seriously either. 4 stars
1/26/08 Tan Worst movie ever. All hype. Save your money and time. 1 stars
1/25/08 Emme Ready for the fun "thrill ride"- got boring, unscarey crap 1 stars
1/25/08 Ramzi Abed It truly is Godzilla meets Blair Witch (with better cameras!) 5 stars
1/24/08 John GREAT experience, way more then just a movie 5 stars
1/23/08 danielle really bad! camera shaking for hr and 1/2 1 stars
1/23/08 Stacy Loved it. Don't go see if you need a Hollywood ending, though. 5 stars
1/23/08 Riki Not exactly scarey, not exactly realistic, but definitely entertaining! 5 stars
1/22/08 beau This was very scary! it had frightening sequences, action and was believable! well made! 4 stars
1/22/08 William Goss And I presume that spelling is where "Likes to read" fails. 5 stars
1/22/08 Likes to read, unlike the President. Great for identifying people with no taste. Guess where Willaim Goss falls. 1 stars
1/22/08 John Wasnít invested in the characters and didnít believe it for one secondÖ 1 stars
1/22/08 Mr Freeze I watched it online. It was a camcorder recording of a camcorder recording. B+ 4 stars
1/22/08 Ole Man Bourbon Great entertainment. Characters were abominable though. 4 stars
1/22/08 Noexit Should have been longer. There was something crashed in the water at Coney Island 4 stars
1/22/08 Ron20003 WORST PIECE OF CRAPOLA EVER 1 stars
1/21/08 chach Very unrealistic and cheezy no plot or direction! Probably the worst movie Ive ever seen 1 stars
1/20/08 Brian Mckay Yes, it's a gimmick, but it's a fun one. Monster 10 times scarier than any Godzilla flick. 4 stars
1/20/08 Captain Highcrime 9/11 with a monster...New Yorkers will LOVE it!! 4 stars
1/20/08 c5 Cliched spectacle distracts from serious stupidity and lack of real story. Pure gimmick. 1 stars
1/20/08 tmcmistress very original monster design; just wish we'd seen more of it. 4 stars
1/20/08 Darkstar Awesome movie, great monster. Best action pic you're gonna get this time of year. 5 stars
1/20/08 Obi Wan One of the better movies to come about, plenty of scares and JJ does it again!! 5 stars
1/19/08 Michael Best horror/suspense movie I've seen in years! 4 stars
1/19/08 chris banuchi Guys. At the end of the movie, I swear I seen something crashland into the water at coney 5 stars
1/19/08 MN Completely overrated. 1 stars
1/19/08 bullit16 Worth the hype! If you can stand the shaky cameras, it's one hell of a thrill ride 5 stars
1/19/08 Roy Romano This movie Sucked more than a blow job festival! It gave me hava a headache. 1 stars
1/19/08 Paul Kraker Worst movie I've ever seen - save your money!!!! 1 stars
1/18/08 Brant Best Scare I've had in a theater in a loooong time! Great Movie!! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Jan-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Apr-2008

UK
  01-Feb-2008

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Matt Reeves

Written by
  Drew Goddard

Cast
  Michael Stahl-David
  Odette Yustman
  Mike Vogel
  Lizzy Kaplan



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