Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Cloverfield

 
 
Review by Paul Edwards

The year 2008, if you remember, opened with one of the largest-hyped films of all time.  From the mind of J.J. Abrams, we were witness to, what can only be described as a rollercoaster ride as a theatre experience. From the unnamed teaser that was attached to Transformers, to the MySpace accounts and Japanese websites, Cloverfield, by all accounts, blew away January on 1/18/08.  However, the viral marketing was also one of its biggest flaws. With so much emphasis put on the opening date, it nearly made watching the movie on any other day impossible since it threw the viral marketing genius out of whack. So, sadly rather then destroy box office records, it withered away quietly as the fans that missed it awaited its DVD release. 

The concept of Cloverfield was simple. Make a monster movie for America. In that respect, the film succeeded. It also succeeded in its “first-person” camera style, reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, where the camera follows the actors through their situation.  Since none of the actors were household names, it really helped to establish the characters and gave them humanity.   Despite what some critics have said, I think the footage of the going-away party at the beginning was necessary.  

If Will Smith had been cast in this movie, the spotlight would have been on him rather  than the monster, which would have detracted from the experience.  This was another benefit of using little-known actors (apart from keeping the film’s budget down, of course).  My favorite character in the film was Hud, the guy behind the camera. For the most part, it was his comedic lines and witty observations that brought some light in an otherwise dark and scary disaster movie

In a theatre with sounds blasting and audience involvement, it is a great experience.  It’s like going up on the Raptor at Cedar Point and staying for an hour and half, albeit, this was also one of the films downfalls, but I happened to like it.  If there was one complaint I had about Cloverfield is that its re-watchability factor is kind of low, because once you see the ending, it can no longer surprise or shock you on future viewings.  Which is unfortunate, because the ending is pretty dramatic and jarring.   With all that in mind, I would still highly recommend this movie, and suggest you watch on Blu-ray for the fullest possible experience.

4 / 5 stars

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