I’ve seen it! It’s alive! It’s huge!
I’ve been fascinated with the Cloverfield movie ever since I saw the teaser trailer that preceded Transformers: The Movie six months ago. The JJ Abrams-headed project captivated my interest and it simply would not let go, largely because of all the mystique and intrigue that has been surrounding the secretive movie. In fact, it wasn’t until November that we discovered Cloverfield wasn’t just a codename. With all this hype and viral marketing, you’ve got to wonder if Cloverfield can live up to expectations.
By and large, I think it did. For those of you who haven’t heard, Cloverfield is basically a monster movie, but the story is told from the perspective of a single handheld camcorder. What results is a lot of shaky shots and the potential for motion sickness, not unlike the surreal experience we had with the Blair Witch Project several years ago. The key difference is that Cloverfield never claimed to be real and it holds a lot more production value than its snot-filled counterpart.
You know all along that this is a Hollywood production, but they’ve managed to sneak in the very expensive Hollywood special effects in a very seamless kind of way, integrating it with the intimate experience of a handheld video camera. You would think that the characters would be little more than cardboard cut-outs, but this isn’t really the case either. We never get much in terms of background information on the main characters — the principal actors and actresses are all relative nobodies — but we know enough to care about them, at least a little.
Yes, you get to see the monster. And yes, it really is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The monster in Cloverfield is not Godzilla; it’s something different altogether, although you could say that there are certain arachnid, reptilian, and Alien features about it that may feel familiar. I’m not going to ruin this aspect of the film for you, because it became a big part of why I wanted to watch Cloverfield in the first place. I wanted to see the monster.
The first 20 minutes or so of the movie introduce you to the main characters through the party scene you’ve seen in the trailer. After that, you’ll be on the edge of your seat for the remainder of Cloverfield (total running time is about an hour and a half). It’s absolutely thrilling, unnerving, and definitely exciting. The terror and horror has some parallels to the events of 9/11, but I’ll leave that up to your interpretation too.
In many ways, Cloverfield leaves you with a lot of questions, but this only makes sense. If you were trapped in the middle of an alien monster attack, you wouldn’t know about the origins and nature of the monster either. You wouldn’t really know how things turn out. And that’s exactly the level of knowledge that Rob, Beth, and the rest of the cast have. Even so, Cloverfield was thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend it to any special effects and/or action junkie. I just wish the ending was a little more satisfying.
On a side note, did anyone else think that Beth McIntyre (played by Odette Yustman) was similar to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character from Can’t Hardly Wait?