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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 William Goss

"Some Kind of Monster"
5 stars

Since its instantly iconic teaser trailer proved to be the inadvertent highlight of 'Transformers' last summer, the mystery surrounding the monster movie 'Cloverfield' (yes, that’s the real title, folks) has only grown at an exponential rate over the course of the past six months, and now, here it finally is, in all its allegedly low-budget, undeniably high-concept glory, and guess what? Gangbusters, baby.

For those of you who don’t even get a wi-fi signal under those rocks of yours, it must be said that the story – told entirely through the perspective of a handheld camera – concerns a group of twenty-something, stubble-flaunting yuppies who must make their way through Manhattan in the wake of an abrupt attack by something other than the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

A piece of purely visceral survival horror, it does indeed share the continually shaky camerawork that worked wonders for The Blair Witch Project, although not so much on some audiences. Having sat through the film with one nauseated colleague beside me earlier this week and reports of heaving coming from the other auditorium in which it was shown, one should indeed take heed if prone to motion sickness (not to mention vertigo). The whole thing is one carefully calibrated thrill-ride, as exhilarating as a rollercoaster and just as shaky, so do consider yourselves warned.

On the other hand, critics of Blair Witch and the lack of said spirit in that film need not worry about missing out here; these guys have an actual budget to work with. Director Matt Reeves (The Pallbearer) and producer J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” Mission: Impossible 3) keep the creature suitably obscured for a good portion of the film’s 75 minutes (before credits, more on those in a second) before revealing it to an unexpected degree. There aren’t any pesky exposition scenes explaining what it is or where it came from – scouring the Internet for the film’s viral marketing will provide whatever haphazard backstory there is to know – but do trust that it’s a worthy menace wreaking all this havoc, with some surprisingly seamless effects on display, considering their pervasive integration into a dedicated first-person point-of-view.

The performances are fittingly everyday, with a relatively no-name cast – Zooey Deschanel (not really)! Rosario Dawson (not quite)! that hunk from Poseidon! – selling the street-level panic of a city swiftly gone to hell. Of course, given that said city is in fact New York, Reeves makes no subtle allusion to That One September Day, but avoids outright exploitation in doing so. A la Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, the echoes of 9/11 are simply there: ash-covered faces, sidewalk meals abandoned, debris drifting down from the sky; it’s not so much supposed subtext as it is an open-faced acknowledgement of the ‘what if?’ scenarios that have already come to horrendous fruition off-screen. If anything, the film is most concerned with a generation for whom documenting has progressively (regressively?) become a default declaration of purpose.

Of course, in a movie where our jokey cameraman, Hud, (T.J. Miller, literally carrying the film), opts to follow our ostensible lead (Michael Stahl-David) when he chooses to rescue his one true booty call from her tilting tower, and where the camera itself stands about to a fair amount of abuse (not to mention endless battery life), moments both corny and contrived are in no short supply. Our protagonists are always in the wrong place at the right time, in a manner tantamount to that bit in 28 Days Later where the characters acknowledge that something is a shit idea because “it's really obviously a shit idea,” but proceed with that course of action anyway. However, it should be noted the proceedings are no less intense for either their faint air of convenience or familiarity, or even a PG-13 rating (take that, every other horror remake out there!). Deaths all but occur off-camera, profanity remains at a relatively moderate level given the circumstances, the increasingly common night-vision device is employed effectively regardless, and a gimmick involving footage being recorded over works well enough as a nifty source of flashbacks. Naturally, there are nits to be picked (seriously, girl, lose those heels!), but given the chilling effectiveness with which the entire thing operates, I for one found myself more than willing to cut some slack.

Once the film does finally come to a full and complete stop, so begin some rather lengthy end credits that are worth sitting though for one reason and one reason alone: the sublime overture by composer and frequent Abrams collaborator Michael Giacchino (M:I–3, The Incredibles). Saved for the end of a film that only uses music in context, it’s a gloriously bombastic theme that harkens back to classic creature features and would have been right at home in the big-budget crane-shots-and-explanations version of this film that simply must exist in some alternate universe (I imagine that it would share the same dead-on title as the piece itself: “ROAR!”).

At the end of the day, caveats and all, it’s an intimate and immediate E-ticket ride for the iAge, a warped funhouse that plays with (preys upon?) our current fears most expertly and grippingly. If only for providing a unique and satisfying cinematic experience – especially in the doldrums of January – it deserves my full star rating and your attention this weekend, because trust me, it really won’t be the same on DVD or after hearing about it secondhand. If there’s one thing I can assure you that 'Cloverfield' is, it’s dazzlingly, dizzyingly, thrillingly, thoroughly NOW.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16837&reviewer=409
originally posted: 01/19/08 11:16:44
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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
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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