Cloverfield (2008)

JANUARY 18, 2008

GENRE: MOCKUMENTARY, MONSTER
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (REGULAR SCREENING)

How’s this for weird: the main reason I watched Dragon Wars yesterday was because I knew that I would be seeing Cloverfield today, and thus I wanted to see both of the major US cities get destroyed (LA in Dragon, NY in Cloverfield) back to back. But 45 minutes or so into Cloverfield, I discovered another connection: character actor Chris Mulkey (who played the jerk FBI agent in Dragon) popped up as an army general or something to that effect. I like that guy.

But sadly, despite J.J. Abrams’ involvement, Greg Grunberg was nowhere to be seen.

But that’s pretty much my only complaint (Grunberg rules!) about the film, which is otherwise pretty f-ing great. It’s nice and short (it could even be shorter, see below), and while I wasn’t exactly enamored by all of the characters, director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard DO invest enough time into their leads so that you care about them during what is essentially a 70 minute nonstop chase scene. Also, the lead girl, Odette Yustman, is ridiculously hot, which helps sell the basic narrative thrust of the film (our heroes’ attempts to rescue her out of the city, which is being demolished by the government just as much, if not more than, the monster). I’d grab my unlimited-battery and incredibly-professional-looking-for-a-consumer camera and run around Manhattan while a 30 story monster knocked everything down around me to help her too; probably get mad quality time afterwards.

Like I said though, the film could be a bit shorter, because they sort of go overboard with how much these average looking hipsters can survive in a short time. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that there are two points before the ending where the movie could have conceivably ended, and with each “addition” you are required to put a little too much of your disbelief on hold. Considering that the whole film hinges on the “reality” presentation of this event, it’s a little strange that they expect you to believe regular people can survive 2.5 incredibly violent acts (sorry for slight spoiler, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to word it for like 10 min without spoiling anything and gave up).

Nerds will enjoy the film too, there are many video game references (I SWEAR I heard the army refer using a “Hammer of Dawn” to take out the monster) and a strange moment involving someone’s knowledge of Superman. It’s also pretty funny at times; you might THINK laughing at the idea of an immolated homeless person would never be in the cards, but there it is.

The monster itself is pretty sweet looking, and comparisons to the monsters seen at the end of The Mist are valid. And yes, the big monster spawns little monsters, but don’t let memories of the atrocious 1998 Godzilla cloud your brain – these fuckers are nasty and scary. I’m actually surprised that this got away with a PG-13; not that it’s particularly violent, but there are 2 or 3 scenes that are so INTENSE, something the MPAA has given R ratings for in the past. I actually kind of would have preferred an R rating; it seems a bit odd that a bunch of 25-30 year olds would watch the Statue of Liberty’s head roll down the street and not yell “WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!”

I was also very impressed with the sound on this film. I saw it at the Mann’s Grauman’s Chinese, which is a HUGE theater without stadium seating, and the floor was rumbling throughout, a la IMAX. Definitely see this one at a THX theater if you can; the sound is worth the admission alone (can’t wait for the HD DVD, or, more than likely, sigh, BluRay). However, do NOT bother waiting til the end of the credits, unless you really like knowing a film’s MPAA number. Strangely, a good 80% of the crowd waited in their seats; it just seemed like the kind of movie that would offer an after credits epilogue. But nope, nothing. So leave, beat traffic.

I should point out how disappointed I was that Paramount did not offer a new Iron Man trailer OR an Indiana Jones 4 teaser, at least not at my screening. We just got a Star Trek teaser that didn’t even offer a full image of the Enterprise, only some guys welding it. Exciting. Hilariously, the fucking annoying dipshit in front of me got super excited once the words “Star Trek” appeared on screen. Big fan, you’d think, right? But he sat motionless through “A JJ Abrams film”, the legendary music, and a voiceover saying “Space, the final frontier.” I’m not a Trekkie by any stretch of the imagination and even I knew what it was long before him. Dumbass.

And if you aren't yet convinced this one is worth your time and money - I STAYED AWAKE throughout the entire film, which was a midnight screening. I can't even remember the last time I went to a movie that started after 9 pm that I never dozed for even a minute. Monsters eating hipsters > borderline narcolepsy.

What say you?

13 comments:

  1. Hey BC! So I saw you saw Cloverfield. (And that's all I saw--I want to go in completely un-spoiled.) I have an unusual question for you about the movie--is there any vomiting/gagging/wretching in it? My wife has a phobia of those things and she can't see it until we know for sure if it's in the clear.

    Thanks!
    Sean
    Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat

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  2. No puking of the normal sort, but one character does sort of shoot blood from their body (its behind a curtain, you can't really tell what is happening). Should be OK. Hope you like it!!

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  3. Awesome .. I’ve been looking up reviews and info for this film, and it seems to be getting pretty solid ratings. And it’s really interesting that they’re promoting the film with the fallen Statue of Liberty..it definitely sets an undertone of the America being attacked..Maxim actually did a little bit on it.
    http://www.maxim.com/Entertainment/MoviesThatMangletheStatueofLiberty/slideshow/673.aspx?src=dx18:mtd

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  4. I just saw it, and loved it!!! Unfortunately, the friends I
    go to the movie with, didn't enjoyed it as much, their
    complaint? the fast-moving camera got them dizzy several
    times (I didn't have that problem), funny thing, BEFORE the
    film, a theater employee warns us against seeing the film if
    you were susceptible to get dizzy with fast camera
    movements, Cant' say much without spoiling anything, but
    although the party gets cheesy (Nothing I couldn't
    handle)once the Monster get in scene thing won't let
    go. Either if you end upo loving it or hating it, a thing
    ids for sure, you gotta see it, it will be worth your time,
    after all, you DID see Beowulf and AVP2 didn't you???

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  5. There's no vomiting or anything, true, but there's a couple of scenes when we see a dead guy with the guts exposed,although it goes very fats out of frame.

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  6. I had an amazing time seeing this. Five other people I were all loved it too. Oddly this group in front of us started booing it at the end. They left muttering..."that wasn't relaxing at all." Did they see a preview to this movie?

    Question: They said there were scenes in the movie from King Kong, Godzilla, and other such monster movies. Did anyone notice this?

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  7. it's funny, everyone talks smack about the little velociraptor godzillas from that horrendous piece of crap as if, without them, godzilla 1998 would have been so much better. am i the only one who thinks that they were the only interesting part of that movie? i was hyper engaged during the whole madison square garden sequence and dozed off when we shifted back to godzilla. (midnight showing, beer, weed + bad movie will do that to a man.)

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  8. Got wicked motion sick, but the movie was good enough to keep me drawn in anyway. Seriously, one of the best movies I have seen in a while.

    The guy next to me was absolutely irate because he didn't get to find out exactly what the monster was and where it came from, but seriously, would knowing its specific species classification really have helped? I thought it was awesome that we got no information other than that the characters had. Really made me feel I was there and gave a strong vibe of urgency. So so good.

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  9. actually, if you listen in closely during the last bit of credits, you can hear some dismal static crackling and the main guy whispering 'i love you'. not that it's worth learning the movie's mpaa code, but certainly hearing the entire theme song and knowing that it's called, "roar!" exclamation point and everything. good review, btw.

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  10. get it right buddy, it was 25 stories tall ;)

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  11. Lostsanityreturned (UE)August 24, 2009 at 11:07 AM

    Okay first thing first.
    Blastedly brilliant site, I am extremely impressed by it at the moment and while your taste is a bit different to mine at first glance (your mentioning in the hellraiser HD review that you prefer or prefered slasher... not clear) to my own you write about the movie and all aspects of the movie as opposed to fangasuming over whatever point you liked and ignoring the rest(except for one point in this review which got no mentioning for some reason but I shall get to that later)

    Aaannnnyyyway onto my two points before I kick the computer's power button and call it a night (because of it being 2:am over here in aus)

    Now onto the movie, I watched Cloverfield around a month back after my cousin raved about it and I discovered I had it on dvd lying around (I am not sure who loaned it to me but I sure as hell didn't buy it). Thinking to myself it might be a decent time passer I shoved it into my computer and started watching, by the way my screen is a full 32" monitor at a much higher resolution than 1080p so it is suited to watching movies especially with some decent filters enabled.
    Anyway my mind is a bit disjointed and wander tastic atm so please try to ignore my long windedness and crappy grammar as I cannot think straight.

    The movie:
    -Hated the actors but that was to be expected and didn't really bother me.
    -Loved the giant bowling ball of a head(deserved its own mention and good to see you belive so to)
    -Loved the premise
    -Hated the mini monsters spawning(seriously, I could only belive in them being that size if the monster was smaller or they spawned out of a huge egg en-masse and even then I have no idea why they are in the underground where all the food would still mainly be in the streets this is obviously not mentioning when the monster got time to birth them anyway(if it was in the ocean they certainly shouldnt be in the subway).
    -Loved some of the shots (afore mentioned head takes the cake though and leaves other scenes a bit dwarfed)
    -Wanted to know why the monster was invunerable when it was clearly made out to be organic I mean even with thick skin it had small knees and no defence against fighters launching some decent anti tank weaponary at it.
    -Why wasn't it spotted with sonar?
    and finally I was dissapointed seeing the whole thing at the end, it looked a fair bit smaller and a lot more CG than in any other smoke hazed scenes and killed a bit of the not knowing but it didn't even have any battle damage.
    Now do not missunderstand, I did like the film as a time waster over all but the negative parts are the parts that stood out for me over the parts that were good, even if they only occupied ~10min of actual footage.

    And the secondary question I must ask, why the hate for blueray?

    Anyway this is undoubtably the first of many comments I will make and hopefully the least thought out,
    Lostsanityreturned
    (P.S. I found your site by looking at DeadFloors reviews, I had the exact same thoughts as you on the movie... not a great movie but certainly worth watching for what it does well)

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  12. Oh - I don't hate BluRay! It took me a minute to figure out what I meant, but now I remember: this was around the time that HD DVD (whose side I was on) "lost" the format war. Shortly after Cloverfield, in fact, I threw in the towel and bought a BR player (and love it quite much).

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  13. Lostsanityreturned (UE)August 25, 2009 at 4:24 AM

    Ah good good XD
    I boycotted the HD dvd idea purely because its licensing was tied to the movie companies strongly (not that bluray being tied to sony is any better)
    Same sort of reason I support DP of HDMI connections.
    Amazing that after all of these technological breakthroughs I am still buying the 50horror movie boxsets and watching everything through mpc.

    Sorry for the massive preceding comment of mine I only realised how much I dragged on now -laughs at self-
    no doubt talk again later as I go through your blog.

    Lostsanityreturned

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