Finally after 6 months since the first discovery, it's here. J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves have created a new classic monster movie. It is everything you expect and it's also nothing you expect. This movie feels so real that it's not even a movie, it's an entire incredible experience. Cloverfield is less of an epic monster movie and more of a suspenseful dramatic small-scale flick that you experience, not just watch. It's one-of-a-kind, unforgettable and, like 300 last year, has all of those f**king awesome scenes you want, but also has a strong story. Why I love it so much is that it wasn't the same old epic monster movie that we've seen, but it was something incredible, awesome, fresh and different.
In Cloverfield we are first introduced to Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David), a young New Yorker who has just taken a new job in Japan. What we are being shown is footage from his own video camera, which jumps between the day after he first makes love to his longtime friend Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman) and the day the monster arrives, which I'll henceforth dub D-Day. At his surprise going away party, which is thrown by Lily (Jessica Lucas), her fiancé Jason (Mike Vogel), who is also Rob's brother, and Rob's friend Hud (T.J. Miller), who is the cameraman, we are thrown into the thick of the action when "something" attacks New York and Rob and his friends must scramble to stay alive. At the party we also discover that Rob has had problems with Beth after "that night" and now sets off to find Beth, even though she left early from the party on a rough note and with another guy.
Like the Korean monster flick The Host, this isn't the kind of Hollywood movie that follows that pre-defined structure where the monster never gets revealed until that big "final" moment at the end. This is a movie that is following the group of friends who stumble upon this monster quite quickly, and the most I'll say is that you certainly do get some quality contact with it. However, Cloverfield really is not the epic, enormous monster blockbuster that the hype has made it into, and that is very important to remember. It's a very small film that is focused around this group and how they can get out of the city and survive. To some, this could turn out as a huge disappointment, and even for me, as a big summer blockbuster fanatic, I initially had a mild feeling of disappointment.
However, that feeling was overshadowed by that of the notion that why I loved this so much in the end is that it wasn't that epic kind of movie and that's what made it so unique and so memorable. The hand-held camera style shot by the character Hud, who for me becomes the tragic character in the story, is really what defines everything about Cloverfield. It was best described by someone else once before: in Godzilla movies there are those people who run and scream, and this is a movie about them and their story when the monster attacks.
One of my favorite scenes from Cloverfield was when they run into the monster and get caught up in the military gunfight after the bridge scene. Instead of this being the same old scene you'd fine in a Michael Bay movie, which, yes it has the guns and explosions and intensity, but it's from the viewpoint of an actual character - Hud - that you really care about. He's being pinned down next to a car and watches as all the soldiers run by and fire everything they've got at this monster, and he doesn't know what it is, and he doesn't care, because he's trying to stay alive and keep his friends alive. I love that the camera itself is in essence a character, because the character is carrying it. That adds a whole new "life" into the movie which is what helps turn it into more of an experience, like you're right there with him, rather than just watching it cinematically.
I won't say that Cloverfield is the perfect movie, because it really was nothing that the hype made it out to be and I am still having a problem accepting that. I really think that with some time and some consideration and possibly multiple viewings a little further down the road, I'll come to love Cloverfield even more. It'll take some time for me to get over the fact that this isn't an epic summer blockbuster monster flick, but rather a small movie about these people trying to survive and the relationship between them. And I'm already starting to get to that in my mind and starting to love it more and more as I type this out.
J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves have created a classic that I guarantee years from now will be remembered as the quintessential monster movie from this decade. The style is such a brave new step into a realm that no one has really touched upon or succeeded in (George Romero's Diary of the Dead was utter crap compared to Cloverfield), that this is a defining moment in both monster movie history and Hollywood history. Once you finally experience, not watch, Cloverfield, you'll understand how incredible it truly is and you'll never forget finally seeing this soon-to-be classic.
(There's so much more about this that I want to talk about: the incredible sound design and lack of any music, more on the character of Hud, the 9/11 comparison, the monster itself and the building of a monster franchise, and much more. I'll try and discuss more of this in another article later on this week.)
User comment: By: danny hahnthis review just reinforces the fact that i only come to this site for easily accessible flash trailers, and not the poor taste of it's so called reviewers. just because a movie tries to put a new spin on a old idea, doesn't mean it deserves glory or praise.
Dude, whatever. If you'd visit my site and look up all my Cloverfield posts from the past 6 months (and there aren't that many) you'd see that I was not a slobbering fan desperate for clues from viral sites and whatnot. I just reported on updates with some speculation as things popped up. The funny thing is that from your comments I think that aside from this film, we're probably on the same page when it comes to our views on popular movies. Vic
User comment: By: Spike Murdock, Poet-at-LargeHave... laughable. Weak assumption on your part "Vic". Question, did you take the cap or the reach-a-round?
User comment: By: KyleIt has a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a 71%, amongst top reviewers it has 80% fresh rating. @marKay: Watch the fucking movie before making a comparison and you have you rscreentime and runtime wrong as well
User comment: By: twispiousI don't like the movie,but I don't particularly hate it either-but I can honestly see how someone would like this movie. But going as far as to call it a classic? A CLASSIC? Mm,okay.
User comment: By: CantinaWhat's with all the troubling comparison to 9/11??? How about countless movies about Vietnam War, MiddleEast conflicts or any other massive scale tragic events? How do you think those who actually experienced the event would have felt? And some of those movies were honored, highly publicized for being such good films! This is a movie that has monsters in it. Sci-Fi monsters! Get real people.
User comment: By: markAYS.Kings "War of the Worlds" + Godzilla (US version with Matt Boderick) + Blair Witch = Cloverfield nuff said. had high hopes but now reading all of these "reviews" i feel disappointed in the film. also with both monsters on screen time totaled about 7 minutes in a 90 minute movie...a freaking 90 minute movie....no studio is gonna have my $10.50
Hey "spike": How about you actually go see the movie before making pronouncements and judgements about us "pre-review" bloggers, hmm? Vic
User comment: By: Movie LoverI never said no one else in the world has ever suffered horribly from terrorist attacks. What I am referring to are numerous movie viewers from New York who were there on Sept. 11th, who were disturbed by the eerie similarities. Caught themselves talking *again* and remembering *again* what happened to them on that day. Is that what JJ Abrams wanted to invoke with this film? I think the two scenes I have heard mentioned most was the collapse of a twin tower-like building in the same fashion and the dust cloud that chases people down the street. I have seen that particular part in a trailer or clip...where the people take refuge in a store and the dust cloud goes by. This is so disturbingly similar to experiences many people had in New York. I find it just sort of odd to think JJ Abrams chose these particular images to create a sense of dread or fear. That's all.
User comment: By: XXXGod! Why? Why did you spoil the ending Post 20?
User comment: By: XXXSo am I right? Did I win the big arguement between IHateChildren and me on the coment board of " Cloverfeid monster attacks chui stain"!
User comment: By: KailDoes the monster have a name or is it called Cloverfield or The Cloverfield Monster or something? Because I can see a sequel where it goes to battle with another beast and it defends us humans ;] Sound familiar? The original Godzilla was to the Japanese 50 years ago (not talking about Godzilla: King of the Monsters starring Raymond Burr, I'm talking about the movie that was based on, Gojira, which it used clips from) is basically what Cloverfield is to us. This could mean that Paramount might wanna make this movie corny and make silly sequels to it and later on a cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera (which is now just Warner Bros. animation). Cloverfield Raids Again anyone?
User comment: By: spike Murdock, Poet-at-LargeGameraBlair-a-zilla: With unknown "ackters", no soundtrack, little cgg, not much advertising, shot on a consumer camera (or three or four...) with fan-boy blogs pushing it heavy (I can only guess what aint-I-cool had to say but I stopped reading him after he got busted for getting reach-a-rounds to push a movie (not to mention caps cuz the "...clothes don't fit me")/// Sounds like an old fashioned b-movie to me. Won't lose a dime on it. Sounds like a bunch of bloggers are having to rationalize their pre-reviews to keep their readers reading. With 90 years worth of good horror movies out there, if one thinks this is something new and different, they ain't seen enough flicks! Posers! (Poseurs)
User comment: By: H_OvermanJesus H Christ! Aint you people ever heard of Godzilla? You know why they made that movie? Cause we nuked them! It was a way for the nation of Japan to deal with the fact that thousands of their people died in a nuclear attack. If people from New York are disturbed by Cloverfield, its a testiment to the filmmakers. That said, Blair Witch meets Godzilla sounds super lame. If its half as lame as AvP:R, it stills sucks. Cinema verite has been done to death, and portable HD cams have made directors lazy. Thak god its only 90 mins.
User comment: By: MyNameisNobodyFor all the complaining New Yorkers: Stop it! Cities all over the world have dealt with terrorist attacks just as horrific and have been subject to films that depict similar events on screen. To complain as if they are the only people to experience something like this is ludicrous. America, especially NY, needs to wake up and realize that 9/11 is not the first terrorist attack in recorded history. Just because it is the first to have an impact on you does not lessen the impact of the attacks that have occurred all over the world. And I'm American, so to whoever replies to me, I'm not some angry European.
User comment: By: flublufluHow can Movie Lover say it only applies to nyc or washington, I'm from London, you think we have never had terrorists attacks, we have lived with terrorism for decades, just look around the world mate before you start thinking 9/11 was not the only terrorist attack in the world ever...
User comment: By: Kyle@mike: Seriously please don't comment whether a movie is good or not before you've even seen it. Anyone who has seen the film knows that explosions and everything else you mentioned is secondary to the characters who are the real stars of the movie. And those expecting to see tons of explosions and stuff are going to be disappointed and lastly the camera work was not a gimmick there is no way this movie could have been made in the traditional way and still maintained its effect. Oh and about rotten tomatoes... only 12 reviews have been posted up and 3 of the 6 negative reviews have been from hacks who seemed to hate the movie due to its parallels with 9/11. Don't forget 300 only has a 60% on RT. All the movie sites that I follow and those prominent amongst the blogosphere have given it a positive review and that is more important than RT which consists of snobbish critics. Atleast wait till a decent number of reviews are up before judging from RT.
User comment: By: SentpIm so glad to hear that this movie lives up to the hype! I saw the preview ages ago and loved it. Can't wait to see it soon!
User comment: By: FarhanThis has to be the weakest review I have ever read for a movie!!! Either Matt is trying to be clever by creating a lot of hype for this review by calling it a classic in the title, giving it 9 stars and then going on to say. Its not what you think it is. Its a good movie, not awesome!!! hahaha Or he simply sucks as a reviewer. I'll go with the latter
Visit here to subscribe to commentsMovie Lover, I mention the 9/11 connection at the end of my review. I don't think it's a bad thing in the final analysis. Mike, you're missing the point of this movie completely. It's entertainment, pure and simple and as that it works (as opposed to say, AVP-R, which failed completely IMHO). Vic