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Overall Rating

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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by brianorndorf

"MTV Presents 'The Hills' with special guest star Godzilla"
2 stars

The emperor has no clothes. Or better yet, the monster has perfect focus?

It’s difficult to review “Cloverfield” without at least mentioning the buzz-guzzling hype machine producer J.J. Abrams kicked off with the arrival of the teaser trailer last summer; a cryptic piece of footage that sent the tails of geeks and bloggers everywhere wagging with gale force velocity. It was a tantalizing glimpse of forthcoming havoc. However, now having viewed the entire film, perhaps a peep was all that was needed. Just a preview to get the blood flowing. Basically a 70-minute YouTube video, “Cloverfield” has all the head-rattling jolt and dramatic verisimilitude of a prank phone call.

Assuming the POV of a video camera employed to capture the farewell party for lovelorn Rob (Michael Stahl-David), the night is turned into a living hell when a Godzilla-like creature starts to tear up Manhattan, leaving the city a wide-awake nightmare of decimating army attacks, brutal monster stompage, and assorted 9/11esque references of destruction. With camera in tow, a small group of partygoers scour the city for Rob’s spurned ex-girlfriend, finding little hope as the creature’s rampage blocks all exits.

“Cloverfield” is an ambitious film, endeavoring to resuscitate the panic of seeing a building-sized creature annihilate a city after decades of bad monster movies have reduced such sights to giggles. Its heart is in the right “Blair Witch” place, but the execution is all wrong (not to mention a little late, coming after doppelganger “The Mist”), reducing the scares to puzzled yawns.

Director Matt Reeves is armed only with a “single” DV camera to cover the action, and while I applaud “Cloverfield” for trying to find ways to widen the scope of such a limited viewpoint, the routes taken are strangely ineffective; it fumbles the wallop of citywide alarm and tarnishes the “reality” this film is so desperate to abuse. The picture’s concept is that the audience is watching a video of the monster attack found after the mayhem, but instead of facing that stark viewpoint head on with punishing cinema verite cartwheeling, “Cloverfield” uses painfully obvious editing tricks, employs peculiar time jumps, and introduces the ludicrous idea that the tape in the camera is somehow screwy, which allows for cringe-worthy backstory flashbacks to Rob and his woman in happier times already committed to the cassette. Now there’s some serious storytelling desperation at work.

The artifice wouldn’t be nearly as maddening if it wasn’t so stiffly calculated. Reeves is clumsy peddling the drama, which relies on rotten actors doing the last thing any performer of limited means should do: panic improvisations. The exposition scenes are crude and unintentionally comical, not to mention there’s little need for a story or characters at all, making the first 15 minutes of “Cloverfield” feel like a videotaped acting exercise. It’s like one of those MTV “reality” shows, only with a monster arriving for a 10-minute cameo (a pretty weak MacGuffin in my book). It also doesn’t help the film’s crucial suspension of disbelief demand when Reeves and Abrams cast well-known faces in the lead roles. I found it difficult to lose myself in the fantasy when watching the goth chick from “Mean Girls” or spy character actor Chris Mulkey as an Army commander.

Of course there’s a massive amount of shaky-cam footage (“Bourne Ultimatum,” I owe you an apology). With a DV camera in play, how could there not be? Oddly, the handheld jostling is kept at bay during the special effect sequences; again breaking a fourth-wall of sorts, letting the audience take a good, hard look at something the characters should rightfully be sprinting away from. It’s minor, but these little divots in behavioral accuracy really start to stack up by the film’s ridiculous ending.

There will be many who will pore over the minutiae of “Cloverfield” for months to come, swearing there’s subtext to debate and hidden details to uncover, arranging a puzzle where there is none. I wish them luck digging in this shallow sandbox of empty thrills.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/19/08 03:37:00
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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 Wasn’t invested in the characters and didn’t believe it for one second… 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
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  18-Jan-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Apr-2008



Directed by
  Matt Reeves

Written by
  Drew Goddard

  Michael Stahl-David
  Odette Yustman
  Mike Vogel
  Lizzy Kaplan

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