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Cloverfield January 21, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Produced by J J Abrams (Mission: Impossible III) and directed by his protégé Matt Reeves, this low-budget film is the successful product of a viral marketing campaign that has transformed into the biggest box office opening for the Martin Luther King weekend.

A video tape is retrieved from the ruins of what was formerly Central Park in New York City. The case is called Cloverfield. And what we get to see in this film is the content of this tape.

Yes, they have to use a hand-held camera, so be prepared for a lot of shaky footage (there have been reports of people puking in the theater). The film is quite short though, at under 90 minutes.

I enjoy watching disaster movies despite the fact that they are quite formulaic. Shooting it from the perspective of the protagonists brings something new to the genre and the experience is completely different. The film gives you a chance to voyeuristically feel the experience of being under a sudden attack. I enjoyed the film despite its shortcomings.

The format also means that the filmmakers can get away without providing unsatisfactory explanations. Be prepared.

The characters in this film are not at all strong. There isn’t a great attempt from screenwriter Drew Goddard to flesh them out either. This is quite common in the genre but for this film, I believe it works because, after all, it is supposed to be video footage of unknown people and it would be quite unlikely that one tape can tell us a lot about so many people. Casting unidentifiable actors is definitely a plus due to the premise and I can’t actually remember any of the actors in the film (except for the Zooey Deschanel look alike, Lizzy Caplan) just like I wouldn’t remember anyone from a You Tube video.

Another thing that works in the film is the monster. It shows up at regular intervals but doesn’t stay on the screen for long (not a new idea really) and that works much better than showing it running around town tearing up high-rise buildings every few minutes.

The film is heavily dependent on the idea and its execution, which was quite satisfactory. Technically, this film succeeds and for a limited budget of $25 million too. The visual effects are excellent, cinematographer Michael Bonvillain makes you feel like you are really watching something shot by an amateur and Reeves ably helms the film. Whether you like this movie or not depends primarily on how the idea appeals to you and how good you expect the film to be.



1. Shujath - October 10, 2008

This one’s a great take on the regular monster movie. I enjoyed most of it but was expecting a spooky ending which disappointed me a bit. It’s unbelievable that those VFX could be incorporated with that 25 million budget. Also, I thought it would have been better if all they showed was just part of the monster (in any case, the creatures were well designed). If you’re bored of the usual monster flicks then check this one out….but if you never liked the genre itself then don’t bother

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