Wednesday, May 14, 2014

CLOVERFIELD (2008) movie review

Cloverfield (2008) d. Matt Reeves (USA)

Produced by J.J. Abrams – who thankfully kept his lens-flare loving hands to himself – this hair-raising, motion sickness-causing creature feature utilizes the “found footage” gimmick (before it was mercilessly beaten into the ground in the wake of Paranormal Activity’s huge success the next year) to follow a handful of hipsters (Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman) as they try to survive a towering interloper’s surprise assault on Manhattan.

Screenwriter Drew Goddard's narrative conceit requires a considerable amount of indulgence as the story progresses – methinks our civilian twentysomethings, especially in the days before the ubiquitous smartphone, would have dropped the camera and ran their asses off looooong ago – but the early fleeting glimpses of the behemoth draw in the viewer in the very best way.

Some critics have complained that Reeves ultimately shows too much of Neville Page’s brilliantly imagined behemoth, but dammit, if you’re going to have a giant monster movie, you gotta show the monster. (That said, the money shot where the gargantuan beastie sneaks up on our heroes in Central Park is a bit much. I mean, really).

Minor nitpicking aside, this is an original, entertaining, post-9/11 spin on the time-honored monster-on-the-loose tale, in that there are no scenes with scientists and military sitting around discussing the creature’s origins and how it can be defeated. By placing everything from a single civilian’s viewpoint, we are literally thrust into the middle of the action given no more information than our main characters at any time.

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