Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Film Review: "Cloverfield" (A)

"Cloverfield" is one of those movies that are genuinely entertaining and you really like, but fall just short of being great. I'd wager that more than a few fans would come at me wielding knives for not stating it's the most amazing thing I've seen in 23246 years but I wasn't blown away, although I did enjoy myself.

The main reason why "Cloverfield" works as well as it does is because it utilizes the first person camera technique so well. Especially since they put the sarcastic, snarky guy behind the camera who is actually quite funny. It also works well because it places the viewer in the movie, as opposed to just being part of the audience. You're drawn into the film and become part of it, which is really part of the overall experience. As is seeing it in a theater to take advantage of huge speakers, because the sounds of the monsters (particularly the main, big one) are excellent.

The only real downside to the film, I feel, is in the beginning. It lends itself well to nice character development, but it lasts too long for me. The movie could have just started at the party and I would have been fine, but this might just be because I was so amped to see the monster and ensuing carnage. I do have to say that when the monster first "appears" ... it is a moment to remember. The statue of liberty's head rolling down the street, a truly unbelievable sequence, is balanced well by touches of reality like everyone running outside (despite the obvious danger, which I would do too) and taking out their cell phones to take a picture. From this point on, the movie truly gets going and never really lets up.

One of the best features is that you never quite know what is going on. You know only what you see, which is restricted to a group of three admirably trying to save one other person. You don't know what's happening with the military, you never find out where this monster came from or what the parasites really are, so everything retains the unique feel. "Cloverfield" escapes the trap that many monster movies fall into, which is trying to explain to much or ruining something by explaining it away. This one doesn't answer any questions and keeps all facts out of the plot, which actually makes it scarier. I, for one, really wanted to find out what happened when people were bitten by the parasite as you only really see an explosion of blood behind a curtain.

In the end, I really enjoyed the film, which was surprising since it's PG-13 and I tend to like my horror with an extra punch of gore and violence. Not everyone will like this film - in fact, some will hate it. I did think the end was a bit corny and I hate that they ended it semi-happily (in a sense), but I try not to let that ruin the rest of the picture. Obviously, if you can't stand a lot of shaking or the camera not staying still, I would stay away from this one, or grin and bear it for at least one showing - it is worth it.

No comments: