Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cloverfield Review

A couple of Fridays ago I had a friend Norbert and his sig other over for dinner. Norbert is returning to LA today to go back to what work he can find. He is an electrician in the local IA down there. I mentioned that I was taking my kid to go see Cloverfield and he rolled his eyes. "I worked on that and I dont think it's going to be that good. Nothing but Green screens and a giant Kermit the frog."
I did ask him the camera and format question. Still rolling his eyes, He said they used everything from 35mm all the way down to a consumer grade camcorder that some guy hand held. Taken out of context I can see where green screen work would look a little pointless but he even said he wandered over to video village to see what they were shooting and he still was not that impressed. Fair enough.
I grew up watching and loving monster movies. Old Japanese monster movies showed every Friday night and up until I was about 15 and had better things to do on a Friday night I would hang out with my other geeky friends and watch em all. Godzilla, Ghidra, Rodahn. I ate em up. Even the recent Godzilla movie i was entertained by. I just like that stuff.
What separates Cloverfield from the others is in their presentation of the story. All the other movies the camera and the audience were omniscient. We followed the Hero, usually a plucky scientist and a cute girl, get into the inner circles of the official response. The teeming masses fleeing and getting crushed by what ever was ripping apart Tokyo were merely extras.
The truth is that Average Joe is not going to be the plucky scientist The average Joe would be stuck right in the middle of the death and destruction. That is what excited me about Cloverfield. The device of having the story framed through a camcorder operated by a rank amateur served to enhance the experience. Here the main characters were the Extras if you will. Only hotter of course.
One of the most powerful moments for me was where we do not see an aerial view of a column of tanks shooting blanks at the monster. No we see this from the point of view of a scared !$%*less voice behind the sideways view of the camcorder as random angles of tanks and soldier’s boots go blasting by amongst the sheer confusion and cacophony of high intensity combat. I think it really worked.
The whole sense throughout the entire show of not knowing what was really going on other then what was in view of the camera and never getting a pat payoff, though risky also worked for me.
I grew to care about the characters and as is my way loved watching the death and destruction as "Kermit" tear asses around Manhattan.
Would I recommend it, yes absolutely. In fact I will likely buy the DVD when it comes out.
Oh yeah my, 14 year old daughter also loved it. She was literally on the edge of her seat through most of the show.

I give it 3 1/2 Frags

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At 5:04 PM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I think you managed to hit on exactly why I too liked this one a heck of a lot more than almost all the other shaky-camera flicks I've seen .. Given the very short backstory segment, they indeed manage to give us characters to actually care about rather than composites

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Eric said...

One thing I did not hit on but I found nice was how the cliplets between takes on the camera of the last great day served to counterpoint the tragedy going on as well as to drive the motivation for the guy wanting to stay behind and find the girl

Oh and it was a great spot to show the splash into the river that forshadowed the whole thing.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous test equipment said...

I heard this was a very cool movie.

Thanks for the review.

At 5:57 AM, Anonymous movie forums said...

I saw this movie recently and enjoyed it very much. I am planning to buy a DVD of this movie so that I watch it any time.


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