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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 Eugene Novikov

"Worth the wait even if it doesn't live up to the hype"
3 stars

CLOVERFIELD is a tricky beast of a monster movie -- unremittingly intense for 80 grueling minutes, it leaves viewers in the dust. It wasn't until I had a few seconds to take a breath and register the film that I realized that it doesn't quite work, and that its intensity lacked an emotional connection. Had Cloverfield been done right, delivering on all the potential for horror and tragedy that the brilliant premise contained, I would have left the theater emotionally drained. Instead I felt merely dizzy.

The heartbreaking thing is that Cloverfield clearly understands the genre it's playing in, and often delivers on the promise of its "Blair Witch meets Godzilla" conceit. Indeed, it does something very interesting to the monster movie: it sets the action on a small scale, following a set of ordinary characters around as they try to save themselves, while occasionally giving us hints of the big picture. In theory, the big picture becomes terrifying precisely because it invades the film's otherwise comfortable narrow focus. And when both perspectives are awash in confusion and chaos, the result is -- or can be -- even more unsettling.

When the film takes a broader view, it works, unequivocally. Its vision of a New York City attacked without warning by an unspeakable abomination, the destruction glimpsed from a distance at first and met with as much curiosity as horror, is scary because it's so believable, or at least conceivable -- not the monster itself, of course, but the whisperings of another terrorist attack, the crowds gathered on the rooftops watching the skyline explode, the wave of fear that eventually hits. Cloverfield doesn't ask how much blood it can spill or how many times it can startle the audience with a sudden special effect or musical cue; it asks what an American city invaded by something enormous, malevolent and alive would look and sound like. And in terms of making a monster movie that has a real effect, that's undeniably the right question.

I relished every glimpse of that big picture -- the sight of a military-led mass evacuation, for example, or fighter planes suddenly whizzing by overhead, or news footage trying to make sense of the madness. I liked it so much that I started to ignore the small-scale stuff -- the twentysomething friends running around with a camcorder who are supposed to be the focus of the film, and almost literally our eyes and ears. None of it engaged me. I stopped paying attention to the sarcastic, supposedly funny banter (most of it coming from the guy behind the camera who decides to document the invasion for posterity) almost entirely. Life and death decisions were made -- the putative protagonist at one point decides to skip a helicopter evacuation to go back to midtown and try to rescue his girlfriend, and his companions follow him -- but I was almost too busy scanning the sides of the frame for another explosion or glimpse of the creature to notice. Big emotional moments, ones that should have turned me into an emotional wreck (e.g. a phone call to mom while barricaded in a subway station, telling her that one of her sons has been killed), don't register at all. Occasional (and improbable, given the "found footage" format of the film) sunny flashbacks to better days are little more than distractions.

I think I can crystallize the problem this way: Cloverfield is dead on in its depiction of a monster invading downtown Manhattan, but almost completely ineffectual in portraying the characters meant to give us an intimate view of same. The film does big, but it does not do small. And for it to really work -- to leave us shaken emotionally as well as physically, to have the impact of a great movie rather than a great theme park ride -- it needed to do both.

Cloverfield is still pretty scary, worth the trip and maybe even the anticipation created by its brilliant marketing. The monster looks great, though one aspect of its physiology seemed shoehorned in to provide a few hollow jumps in the middle of the film. It's a hell of a visceral experience -- but it's a purely visceral experience, apparently to the point of causing some viewers to vomit. Unless you're one of those unfortunate few, you'll soon forget the details. The Blair Witch Project is mostly a punch line these days, but I still remember its justly famous "I am so sorry" scene like I saw it yesterday.

Reprinted from

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originally posted: 01/18/08 19:17:01
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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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