Friday, January 18, 2008


**guest review by Hollis**

Ok. I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible, in case you haven't seen this yet and are planning on it. First, let me say, I liked it. However, I knew some of the background of the movie, and wasn't expecting anything other than what the movie was. If you're looking for traditional storytelling, or having everything explained to you ... well, you won't find that in the movie. Cloverfield is the story of a monster attack on Manhattan (J.J. Abrams's take on Godzilla), told from the perspective of a hand-held video camera operated by a regular person who, with a group of friends, is trying to get out of the city. And that's it. Like any event documented by a bystander, there are no explanations, no backstory (well, almost none), and what you see is what you get.

J.J. Abrams is the same guy who created Lost, so there are all the corporate conspiracy theories, and "super"-plots (a larger story that the movie is only a part of) that you would expect. In fact, Cloverfield has a huge viral marketing campaign that goes along with it - if you haven't been paying attention to it, there's a brief summary here -
If you want answers to a lot of the movie's questions, you're going to have to dig into the external stuff. You still won't get all the answers, but the bigger picture will become a little clearer. Oh, and it's not done yet ... new info is still being added ... which has already lead to people speculating that there may be a sequel at some point. But who knows.

Ok, back to the movie itself. The use of the hand-held cam is both a plus and a minus - it definitely puts you more "into" the movie with the characters, but the shaky camera work can get annoying. I had to look down at the seats in front of me for some of the scenes because they were so shaky - so it didn't turn into a barf-a-thon. If you get motion sick easily, I would take some preventative measures. The movie is relatively short - kind of realistic to the length of a camera battery, although you'll wonder in some scenes how the camera has managed to survive so well (whatever brand of camera that is - you should definitely buy it!) The monster is really cool - not totally unique since you can see other creatures that it references - but definitely fun to watch. Some of the scenes were very 9/11-esque - especially towards the beginning - in fact, when the attack first occurs, one party-goer says "is it another terrorist attack?" I don't know if the film will get a different reaction in NYC, but I bet some people will be having flashbacks.

The acting was good - very believable. There are no recognizable faces here, which makes for a much better movie ... it was refreshing to truly believe in a character, as opposed to trying to suspend disbelief so that you aren't just watching Tom Cruise in yet another outfit. Also, I just have to say, I give some of the female actors props for running around in high heels for as long as they do. *That* made me wince as much as anything - I would have had those suckers off in the first 5 minutes.

So, bottom-line - if you liked Lost, enjoy digging up plot information for yourself, and piecing together clues (oh, and big monsters attacking NYC), then you'll enjoy this movie. In fact, do some of the background work before you go see it - it helps. If you need a plot with character development and a traditional story arc, well, maybe you should wait for the new Indiana Jones film.