After months and months of viral marketing, crazy internet promotions, and cryptic trailers that caused the internet community to debate endlessly about the monster, Cloverfield is finally here. And it was worth all the hype. Here’s the non-spoiler part of my review: The film plays just like a home video, starting with a Rob voiceover as he looks out on Manhattan pre-monster. We transition into the party scene that we’ve seen in the trailers so many times before. The shaky hand camera work wasn’t nearly as annoying as I had expected. And, despite the similarities in the filming style, it didn’t remind me of Blair Witch at all. The movie kicks off to a slow start – Hud (T.J. Miller) filming Rob’s (Michael Stahl-David) goodbye messages, drama between Rob and Beth (Odette Yustman), random party scenes – until the action finally starts with the earthquake-like explosion and the lights flickering off and then back on. They go up to the roof, see the huge explosion, run to the street, see Lady Liberty’s head, and then hide in a convenience store (all of which, we saw in the trailer). The first instance of knowing it’s a monster comes from Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), who was stuck in the street as the monster passed and mutters, “It was eating people.”
After this point, it’s hard to write about the movie without revealing spoilers. If you don’t mind spoilers, read on.
Non-spoiler issue I had with the movie – I could have done without the love story. I know that Rob needing to go to Beth to save her meant that they had a reason to not evacuate the city when they had the chance and thus was a necessary plot point, but seriously…enough with the kissy-kissy in the streets. I came to see a monster movie, not a kissy-kissy movie.
Other than that small issue, I was pleasantly surprised. After all the hype I figured the movie was either going to be incredibly awesome or the worst movie in years. It’s neither, really, although leaning towards incredibly awesome. The acting was much better than I had expected (with the exception of Lizzy Caplan, of course – she’s always awesome). The shaky camera didn’t bother me as much as I had expected, as I mentioned earlier. The monster wasn’t half-whale as some fan art had suggested. It was suspenseful without being cheesy (like the tearful, snotty shot of the scared girl in Blair Witch – cheese city), and it was scary without having to have tons of single shock moments.
All in all, it’s a great way to spend the afternoon at the movies. Definitely worth the price of admission, and a definite buy once it’s on DVD.
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