Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: Cloverfield (2008) [Reviewed By C.S. Kiyabu]

Cloverfield: 9/10
"My name is Robert Hawkins. Seven hours ago, something attacked the city…"

Plot: Robert Hawkins is moving to Japan. Brother Jason Hawkins and girlfriend Lilly Ford throws him a going away party. Close friend Hud Platt records it all with a handheld camera. Hud likes Marlina Diamond who’s invited to the party by Lilly. Lilly also invites Robert’s long-time friend/one time love Beth McIntyre to the party. Beth brings a date which upsets Robert, who argues with her before she storms out. Jason and Hud try to gather info on what happened and calm Robert down… Oh yeah, then a big fucking monster shows up and attacks Manhattan Island!

Critique: So I went into this movie trying to get over my pure hatred for "The Blair Witch Project", which in my book, is the worst film ever made by mankind. It brings on pure disgust every time I hear its name spoken. It has bad camera footage, horrible acting, pathetic suspense scenes and a laughable ending. It scared me because I did not want that bias hatred leaping over from "Blair Witch" to "Cloverfield" at all. I wanted a clear head when going into this film and I wanted no interruptions what-so-ever. Sooooo much hype and sooooo much viral marketing has revolved around the production of this film that I've had nothing but mixed emotions both good and bad, going in. So with that in mind, I went in.

So there I was sitting in a theater room and the lights were dimming. Roll on the opening! It plays out like a simple homemade movie. The characters are introduced, the tables are set and the beginning plays on as planned. It’s hard to discuss their acting at this point because I’m already drawn into it as if they aren’t characters at all, but actually regular people filming a homemade film for their friend. This helped me to forget about it being a movie altogether.

The party is, in my opinion is one of the best events of the film because it serves as a power-point for all of the characters. We get to meet each and every one of them, we get to interact with each and every one of them and we get to feel each of them out and grow a connection to them, whether they are Robert, Jason, Lilly, Marlina or even Beth. By the time the city is hit, we are already deep into the belief that we’re watching live events unfold here. The reactions are surreal, the acting is spot on and the belief system is set. Bring on the madness. The initial attack is very well written and produced and the soundtrack, the soundtrack is just pure and raw. I loved it. It’s something that you must watch with a surround-sound system, it’s just a necessity.

What I really enjoyed was the mystery surrounding the monster that even if you read spoilers online and already knew what to expect of the monster, you were still drawn to how mysterious and suspenseful the monster’s time on-screen was. I enjoyed the various news briefs that Hud recorded, showing the media’s reaction to the event. It helped that sense of realism. I also thought the multiple spores or mini-monsters that were attached to the monster were a very nice touch and helped play out an extremely short lived, yet effective subway scene. The quarantine scene also played out very effectively and had me questioning the outcome even in my sleep that night. Not that this entire film didn’t have me questioning each and every scene I came across.

The visual effects were, like the soundtrack, very well done and played out like a feast for the eyes. The shots of the city on fire and in ruins were downright surreal. Unlike corny big-budget popcorn flicks where we see Manhattan destroyed, time and time again, this film actually plays it out from the citizen’s point of view. And lets just say; it works. The shots of the Brooklyn Bridge had a very 9/11 feel to it, where people were just afraid for their lives and were trying to get out of Manhattan as quickly as possible. It was very well produced. I also enjoyed the military aspect of the film. I’m a pro-military junkie, sorry I am. I just love the raw firepower of the United States Military, I just do. This film helped display that quality very nicely, even though we could have seen more of it.

But yes, I do realize that the focus wasn’t on the military, but on the people in which the camcorder was being operated by. So in the end, did I enjoy this film? Yes. Do I feel that it’s the greatest monster film of all time? No. But I do think that the viral marketing champagne for this film helped our overall experience of it on a very high level. Without it, Cloverfield would be just another movie. What that champagne also did was generate an addiction and a cult following. This is a film that I am sure people will still be talking about many years from now. Or at least until a sequel with better answers is made, that is. To say the least, I recommend this film to any and all fans of the monster-movie genre, and also to anyone with an open mind and a lot of free time for discussion, there after.

Actors/Actresses: Brought to you by J.J. Abrams and Directed by Matt Reeves, this film stars; Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Brian Klugman, Anjul Nigam, Margot Farley, Kelvin Yu, Liza Lapira, Lili Mirojnick & Odette Yustman as Beth McIntyre.

Final Say: "Don’t get sucked in. Once you see this film, you’ll be addicted to the vass marketing behind it and you won’t be able to stop discussing it. A great film ensues with the addition of extremely well designed viral selections that’ll leave you asking questions for a long time to come. And trust me, you will."

Overall Rating: 9/10
Copyrighted © 2008 - CsK Review.

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