Movie Review: Cloverfield

For Saturday, Dennis suggests Cloverfield (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). ‘It’s Godzilla meets The Blair Witch Project’! the massively-overrated J.J. Abrams undoubtedly said to some executive, but, as loath as I am to parrot high-concept movie pitch-speak, that’s sort of accurate, and it’s a pretty neat idea. To wit- some (quickly annoying) young New York yuppie/hipster types gather at a loft to have a party, which one of them is filming with his (really durable, as it turns out) digital movie camera when… something happens. As explosions, blackouts and…something else pile up, the party dudes, and we, learn just enough to get really freaked out and go running willy-nilly into the night (I mean that’s what the party dudes do- I just cracked open another beer and continued to enjoy myself, but you get the idea). Sure, the film suffers from that whole central ‘why the hell do they keep filming while they’re in mortal danger’ thing but, like in The Blair Witch Project, apart from some tossed off explanation wheezed out mid-sprint, the answer to that is ‘just shut it- their wouldn’t be a movie otherwise and you’d miss out on all the fun terror’. And if the film isn’t in the same league as Blair Witch (which it is most definitely not), then it does get some effective (and cost-cutting) mileage out of having our point of view, like the characters, be so narrow and incomplete; the things we see out of the corner of our eye, or hear just enough of to keep us on edge, juxtaposed, in this case, with some real whopper reveals make for a fun, often thrilling little monster movie. (And as to those who say, ‘I hate that shaky-camera stuff, wah-wah-wah’, well, go look at the Godzilla remake again and marvel at all that expensive, panoramic spectacle just laying there inert on the screen like a dead halibut and tell me you’re excited by it). The acting’s a problem, though; the three nonprofessionals in Blair Witch were effective because they seemed authentically scared and non-professionally freaked out, but the interchangeable guys and gals in Cloverfield (the lead guy who looks like Ashton Kutcher, his brother, who looks like Ashton Kutcher, three interchangeably pretty girls [the lead of whom is genuinely dreadful], and the comic relief cameraman [who seems like a desperately poor man’s Seth Rogen]) seem like pretty actors signed on to be in a monster movie. Which is what they are, of course… Written by Drew Goddard, who I like for his stellar work writing some great ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ episodes, who provides some snappy dialogue amidst the falling masonry and the…something…

Not the Cloverfield monster.

Not the Cloverfield monster.

Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 2:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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