Few films built up massive anticipation for me as I generally try not to get excited over things to avoid being disappointed (awful I know) however Cloverfield was one film I did get overly excitable about and for me at least, especially when seeing it at the cinema, it lived up to my expectations by giving a unique spin on the disaster movie/ monster movie genre.
Released : 2008
Runtime : 85 minutes
A group of teenagers are stranded in Manhattan trying to escape certain death from a rampaging monster, all the while filming their escape on a handheld camera.
The Disasters Faced
The cloverfield monster, all its delightful offspring and all the exploding carnage it causes.
This film is like the big budget Blair Witch Project in terms of its execution. While everything is done in that wobbly handheld amatuer way, its used to fantastic effect. As you have the same view everyone can see explosions seem more terrifying, the sheer dwarfing of the moster over everything else is more apparent and horror of their situation is thrust at you every single second of the film. Amatuer camera genre films generally completely divide people. I can see why some people would say they would like the film better if it was just shoot normally, however the fact that you only catch glimpses of the monster and everything is quite disorientated I think adds immensely to the film.
Apart from the artistic direction with cameras, the film is executed in quite a linear fashion. We meet our characters and with most of them, we’ll see them through to their bitter end! Something that does add to the overal character arc (there’s not much time for it though it has to be said, and that’s fine) is that where the camera is paused or stopped for a bit, you see pieces of what was there beforehand which show the main love interests on a day out together enjoying eachothers company. To set that happiness against what is a very dark and grizzly movie actually gives to film more weight and is a good move.
Although you see it all through the handheld camera, the cameraman manages to capture a hell of a lot of special effects. Of course the famous Statue of Liberty’s head being thrown about was the big shocker for all the teasers of the film, but there’s seeing the monster in motion which looks amazing plus all the military action that our characters weave through. Some of the best effects such as a slideways rooms were probably done through camera angle shifting but the actors do a great job to make it look like they are climbing!
Why It’s Worth Watching
Cloverfield is very unique to the disaster movie genre as it brings in the amatuer movie man and makes it feel seemless and real without it seeming far too gimmicky. The whole artistic direction adds to the film and its pace never lets up from the first shudder to the last bang. I also liked how nothing in the movie is spoon-fed and you can then go and have debates about what on earth happened afterwards. However, if you’re looking for a real adreneline rush – Cloverfield is your film!
Jessica Lucas plays Lily who is my favourite character. Instantly likeable and caring even if she starts off a bit stroppy. She goes through all kinds of emotional states throughout the film and she was the one I was rooting for to survive over the rest. However best bit-part goes to Margot Farley who is in the film for the first 20 minutes and then is gone after the bridge scene although I don’t think she is killed in it. Margot, where did you go?!
Although the camera would never had survived it really *takes reality cap off* by getting eaten alive and then spat out again, Hudson (T.J. Miller) obviously didn’t taste right! It was actually really quite fun to see the inside of the baby monsters mouth!
While being inside the monsters mouth was weird, my strangest thing is that at the start of the film it says the video camera uses an SD Card, but then you get these blips of previous video tape footage where the tape stops/pauses and runs on. It’s always thrown me a bit, unless someone transferred it over to SD! Other than that, how on earth does Beth run around so much after being impaled for hours?!
“We’ve got to get out of here!” … and then proceed to not do so….
Whilst you do have to suspend reality at times, Cloverfield is a fantastic monster/disaster movie that warrants everyones attention at least once. While the amatuer video footage may put some off, they are missing the whole energy and point of the movie which is to place you in the heart of the action at all times. If Cloverfield does anything, it will give you a unique action packed ride!