Review: Cloverfield

I hauled my lazy ass to check out Cloverfield this weekend – I wasn’t too excited to see it, but given the mystery, I wanted to check it out before it was inevitably spoiled for me. My executive summary of this bad boy was that I think it was interesting and I liked what JJ Abrams was trying to do with the movie, but ultimately it didn’t work for me. It’s kinda like Ang Lee’s Hulk for me in that way. I give it a 6 on the felix scale of 0-10.

Oh, also? Movies should have an additional mandatory rating for amount of hand held un-steadicam action there is. Once would be another of them movies all hand held. Seriously, the headache and waves of nausea that I was feeling did little to enhance my enjoyment of the movie.

There probably be spoilers ahead…

Ok. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you didn’t want anything spoiled…

First thing I noticed was the complete lack of a score. This really makes the film feel a lot different than other action flicks – I’d say on the same level as being all hand held for me, except for without the pain. It is pretty remarkable how different a movie seems when all you’re ever hearing is what the characters would be. Not for better or worse, just different. It’s driven home when music actually starts after the card based credits are done and the main ones start scrolling.

As a monster movie shot from the perspective of the innocent townsfolk, it was pretty interesting. The confusion they felt and all the mayhem on the ground was well done. The fact that the audience never knows anything more than what the actors do is interesting and the lack of the big moster reveal was great. I loved that they ended without laying down what exactly happened and how it all ends – not that I didn’t really want to know, but for the movie anything else would have been pretty cheesy, methinks. A less director might have had a lab coat wearing scientist expain exactly what they knew during the Bloomingdale’s scene with our intrepid heroes accidentally overhearing…

The big bad itself was super cool (although, did it remind you of the land striders from Dark Crystal at all?) from what you saw of it and well done. In some respects it was similar to Aliens with lots of little guys running around and popping up at inopportune moments, biting you and making you subsequently explode.

The problem for me was that the movie was fairly boring. The characters were never overly compelling, despite a pretty long intro. Except for Hud (the camera man) I never particularly liked any of them and they were all relatively two dimensional or maybe it’s just that there was nothing interesting about them giving them a distinct personality. There was kind of a lot of waiting and nothing happening – or at least it felt like it – and any action came at fairly predicable times so there was no thrill of “what’s around that corner” to keep me engaged at the edge of my seat.

Ah well, I like the idea of this reality style movie – a refreshing change for the ol’ monster stomps city genre. I think JJ stayed true to that and never took any easy outs to monologue backstory or force in big reveals – which I really appreciate. I also like that he jumped off the “we gotta make 3 hour movie” bandwagon and kept this one to an hour and a half. And to make a monster movie on $30 million (according to IMDB) is quite a feat. But sadly, the characters never did it for me and as such I was never really sucked into the moment. Possibly, it’d be different if I wasn’t also worrying about vomiting – but I don’t think so. Poyla, monster movie aficionado, loved it. And in a rare twist, Maria liked it more than I did. Hm… interesting. What’d you think? Love it? Hate it? Um… Neutral it?

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