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Latauro From AICN Downunder Has A Different Take On CLOVERFIELD!!


I've managed to avoid almost everything to do with CLOVERFIELD. Once I'd realised it was going to be An Event, I figured the best way to prime myself for it was to know as little as possible. Particularly if it was going to be one of those film that draws you in, and if the initial teaser with the hand-held party cam footage was anything to go by, it was.

But does it live up to itself?

Well, everything to do with the monster itself is brilliant. Utter perfection. What we see, when we see it, for how long, etc, this is all handled to brilliant effect. There really is no way to adequately praise the filmmakers for the genuine terror they evoke with the frustratingly-brief but still horror-inducing moments of creature that they show. It's so effective in its style, that I was honestly checking the cityscape skyline for damage as I drove away from the cinema. Not in a cute "what if?" sort-of-way, but because the film had genuinely convinced a part of my brain that this had happened.

But that part is very small, and that is due to CLOVERFIELD's ultimate failing.

CLOVERFIELD never fully lives up to its own concept. For us to really be sucked in, the documentary style needs to be convincing. We need to really believe this people are genuine and true to life. Giving us twenty minutes of "Dawson's Creek" with overly pretty people doesn't help this. Having them say things that sound written (as opposed to spontaneous) doesn't help this. The fact the characters are all so concerned with whether blank will show up at the party and if blank really likes them back actually makes them a bit annoying. They're all so pretty and rich and whiney that I didn't come to love them the way I think I was supposed to. And I don't think many others will, either.

The other problem is that it doesn't have faith in its own story. Survival is the name of the game. Get out of the city. Get away from the monster. That should be the key concern here. Mounting a rescue mission to get unrequited love out of her apartment building -- no matter how well executed -- turns it into DIE HARD. It's a terrific sequence, but unconvincingly so.

Similarly, the "smaller creatures" that appear are well-handled, but detract from the bigger one. Like they need smaller battles to fight to build to the bigger one at the end.

CLOVERFIELD puts so much effort into looking real, whilst at the same time containing so many contrived elements, it never fully achieves what it sets out to. Convincing your audience that what they're watching is admirable is a terrific starting point, but putting it so many Hollywood cliches simply undermines that. I like a lot of Drew Goddard's stuff, and I'm a big fan of JJ Abrams, but I really wish they'd all put more effort into fulfilling their concept's promise.

It has elements of greatness, but is, ultimately, not a defining moment of cinema... it's just a very good film. Which, though frustrating, will have to do.

Peace out,


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