Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. This is the only one of these giant reader e-mail round-ups I’m going to post for CLOVERFIELD, but I wanted to give everyone in the inbox a chance to make their voice heard. I’ve seen the film. I’ll post a review later tonight. Right now, I’m interested in reading this wide range of reactions before I start getting into my own. Check out talkback superstar Messi with his take on it:
This might be the first talkbacker Cloverfield review. maybe not. i'm pretty sure it is. Anyway it's talkbacker messi ----- I just came back from watching it. First off there was the Star Trek Teaser. It starts off with audio quotes about space, there were three of them, I don't remember what they were except the last one which was by JFK. Then it says "From Director J.J Abrams" and it blacks in and out of shots showing the Enterprise being built, but it's like they were building it now, in our time period. Guys on top of it welding it together, cranes etc. It shows a few shots of that and the last shot is a side shot showing the name of the ship USS ENTERPRISE, then the voice "space. the final frontier" and then it shows a faded in and out version of the Emblem and then "The Future Begins" and "Under Construction Christmas 2008". Yes. The ship looks awesome. Even though you don't get to see it in full view. To Cloverfield. The whole thing is filmed from a video camera, but it's not bad, it's not a bad thing. I thought even though the trailer showed the potential in the idea of a monster movie filmed from a camcorder to make it seem realistic, that after a while it would would hurt your eyes because of crazy camera work. But not so. There is crazy camera work at places but for the most part it's steady and just when the action beats start where they are running or something crazy is happening does it go crazy and yes it does feel realistic. In fact very realistic. This is a big movie by the way, the scale. I mean most big scale movies have certain set pieces that are choreographed to show certain destruction etc but this monster(which isn't humanoid by the way) fucks up ALL of Manhattan, there is no limit to what they intend the monster to do. Manhattan is up for grabs. The start of the movie has it establishing the main players including that guy Rob(from the trailer) and this girl who he has a romantic connection with then people at the party. It's handled really well and you know who these people are when shit goes down. Everything is paced perfectly and edited perfectly to set it up when the Monster attacks. So then the monster attacks and it's insane. It's very realistic well for what I imagine a monster attacking NY would be like, including people taking photos of the Statue of Liberty's head with their camera phones, looting stores etc. There's action beats and then a storyline created where during the evacuation the Rob guy has to go rescue said girl whom he has romantic feelings with. So everything unfolds like that. What astounded me is like I said the scale, the set design, the way the story unfolds and what happens to the characters unfolds and how it's cut together. It's big. I mean the destruction is huge, everything is torn down. And the camera work is just great especially the way they edit it. When the main players are in the centre, the monster comes out, then an RPG missile flies past and the camera turns to show the military just giving it all they have and the monster fucking shit up. Intense. The shots they decided to use were genius, especially the way they show the Monster, and this shot of the players watching tv and the tv camera showing the monster drop pieces off itself which turn into these fast moving big dog size spiders and the military trying to shoot them down. Yes, visually it is very good. I loved how there is no explanation, it's just a monster attacking a city, people trying to survive, the military dealing with it the best way they can(they are just there, we don't know what they are going to do, what their plans are which is awesome) and then just seeing how it unfolds. I think the hype was well deserved, this is a very entertaining movie that brings a twist to something classic. This is what Godzilla 98 should have been, at least entertainment wise. Sure the Blair Witch Project had this idea before. But that movie didn't have a Giant fucking Monster destroying New York....Sinestro Corps War! messi
I would imagine most people will enjoy the film as an experience. It’s certainly something you should see theatrically if you’re going to judge it properly. And you should pick the theater with the very best soundsystem available to you, and if possible, tip the projectionist to turn it up to unsafe levels. Here’s one of the last reviews to show up in the inbox, arriving just under the wire:
Okay, so you probably have a million of these in your inbox, but I always like to look at overcrowded markets and shout 'ME TOO!'. I would imagine some of this will be a little spoilerish, as I tend to waffle when I write. So I sat down to see Cloverfield this afternoon. The first thing I thought was 'this is meant to be on a handheld camera, and yet they manage to make it look clearer by a million miles than The Bourne Ultimatum. Why is that? I mean, how did the Bourne people stray so far from the difference between static and realistic. Seriously, that movie made me want to throw up. But I'm getting way off point. The previews for this movie, most I'd seen half a dozen times, until the Bad Robot Logo and the Paramount logo came up, and I was treated to a scene depicting the construction of the Enterprise. That right there was worth the money, it was a thing of beauty, and then Leonard Nimoy, man I was psyched. And then Cloverfield started. I've been to that party. The one with everyone saying goodbye to the person who was basically the lynchpin of the group, so that person can go off and lead their big life somewhere else. The party is full of people who love the person, and of course one or two who don't even know who he is. But it's going to be a good party, I mean it has to be, it's the last party. Of course, it doesn't work out that way. I don't really understand Rob, but I do know how to give someone up to go somewhere better. There are days I wish I hadn't done it, but you do what you do, and the people you leave behind move on. Of course, Rob really comes up with the goods when he decides to go on his rescue mission. This is what I really liked about him. He decides that even though she's probably dead, and he'll probably die in the attempt, he has to try to save the girl. The beginning of the film, and the flashes every now and again remind us why Beth is just that important, why anyone would take such a risk. This is something that sets this movie apart for me, it doesn't feel like it's scripted, it feels like these people are doing what people would do. They step up and prove their worth to one another over and over as they go on their quest. Some people would say 'real people wouldn't do that', but I say a real person should be willing to risk everything for someone else, be it in a small way, or a huge way like Rob Hawkins. Now, the movie that came to my mind, when I first saw the Cloverfield teaser, was the Blair Witch Project. And at this point, if I didn't know better (and I don't, to be honest) the city of New York could well have been destroyed last May, by a giant monster, and there is now a massive government/corporate conspiracy to cover it up. I mean, I've never been to New York, it could be possible. That to me, is the level of conviction that this film has brought to the screen. It looks real enough, the thing doesn't look like a CGI monster, and Slusho (or Slurm, as I've taken to calling it) just might not have found its way to my peaceful island nation yet. The only thing that really gives it away, is the fact that it clearly says it was written by Drew Goddard, the man behind the best (in my opinion) Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, Conversations with Dead People. At the end of the film, as the credits started I noticed a lot of people get up and leave. For the love of god, DON'T! When the music starts, you'll thank me for that dramatic advice. The film has no score at all, the only music is the songs at the party, and unless I'm mistaken the occasional stray TV set or radio, and that does not keep up throughout. And then, at the end of the film as most people are heading back to their cars or whatever, the musical score comes to life. I closed my eyes and listened to it, and I could see the scenes and the people all over again, how the music would have played against this film, had it just been any old film. I heard Rob and Beth's love theme, the monster's theme, Hud's theme, even the little monsters (who do look a bit like baby versions of the Starship Troopers bugs) had their own theme. It was really a magical 7 or so minutes of music. Just a quick thing I want to mention, Hud, as played (or voiced mostly) by T.J. Miller, is a comic genius. He's the guy you want in the nightmarish escape from a giant monster, he's the guy who can bring the funny to any situation. I won't tell you how or why, but I will say that he really made the movie, he was much better to have around than whiny Mike 'I kicked the map into the creek' Williams. Everything he does, from trying to pick up Marlena at the party, taking Lily's testimonal, all the way through to the end, it was all magic. From time to time he would put the camera down, and we'd be treated to a Hud on camera scene. These were basically the biggest 'shit hits the fan' moments, because they were enough to pull him away from the camera. I'm going to go out on a limb and call this my movie of 2008. I know it's a little crazy to make that call in Mid January, but I just can't see any film brining it like this movie has done. And hell, with the writer's strike this year could always be the last year of real movies being made, so enjoy them while you can. Nate...
So you liked it? I’m glad to see the movie causing people to engage in such hyperbolic love letters. I always enjoy seeing people become so passionate about a film as soon as they’ve seen it. The people who fall in love with CLOVERFIELD, head over heels, are going to be unflappable in their convictions. I know why, too. What it imparts as an experience... it might not be for everybody, but for those who are open to it, it’s going to scratch an itch deeply and completely, in a way that will cause them to become very defensive when discussing it. A quick reaction:
Hi Harry, Long time visitor to your site, first time contributor. My girlfriend and I have just returned from an advance screening of Cloverfield held at Melbourne's Crown Casino. The event was organised by Universal Pictures and included a "Rob's Party" themed pre-drinks gathering in the foyer. Someone was even walking around with a video camera asking us to say a special message for Rob. Security was tight as we entered the theatre...all phones and other recording equipment were left with ushers and we were scanned by metal detectors. Before the movie started, we were treated to a quick teaser trailer for JJ Abrams Star Trek movie showing "The Enterprise" under construction...very cool... Then Cloverfield started. Man...what an experience. That monster tears New York city a a new arsehole. It's tense, funny and when the lights came up, the audience sat in silence trying to comprehend what they had just seen. I always judge how good a movie is by what my girlfriend says...and she fuckin loved it. GO SEE CLOVERFIELD!!!! But don't expect too many answers from the movie....after all, us geeks need something to talk about once it's over right? If you use this scoop... call me Dirty.
Now, that enthusiasm is going to rub some people the wrong way. There’s nothing dishonest about the people who dislike CLOVERFIELD... I can name a dozen things that are valid complaints that are going to ruin the film for some viewers. But I think the people that dislike it are going to be irritated by the people who love it, and I think that anger’s going to be obvious when they discuss the film:
Will someone take the Cloverfield monster cock out of their mouths already? We used to smarter. We use to be able to detect bull crap from a mile away. What has happened to us? In a time before now, we would recognize that all the gimmicky advertising and “cleaver” marketing was all part of a delusion. Just like in a magic trick, the filmmakers are trying to show us one hand while the other has their hand in our pockets robbing us blind. Or even worse, the other hand is jerking us off and then bluntly stopping before the big finish. Cloverfield is that unfinished hand job. So they released a “mysterious” trailer. Basically every single movie releases a trailer. But then they had these mysterious websites. Profiles started to pop up on facebook and myspace. Amazing. Why haven’t other movies put anything on the world wide web? We creamed our pants because, oh my God, J.J. Adams is behind it. I’ll admit, at first I bite the bait. Then some websites revealed that it was trying to go the whole Blair Witch and try to convince this did happen and the government kept it under wraps. If in fact they can keep something like this under wraps, that same government couldn’t stop the movie from being released? People went on digging. They found that the crew had various names for the projects. Another common thing in movie making. But even still, we all fell for and seem to be under some brainwashed spell. I’m not against anyone’s opinion. People love it. People hate it, but there are a few reviews that admit the flaws of the movie yet say it was a good movie. Are we afraid to say that it is a bad movie? I for one will not be afraid. CLOVERFIELD IS A BAD MOVIE. Not only is it a huge disappointment in terms of living up to the hype the filmmakers gave it, it goes against its concept, has weak characters and a very basic survival/rescue mission plot line. Then the monster. All this time everyone kept saying it’s not Godzilla. It’s totally different. I won’t give away too many details about it, but if you’ve seen Godzilla, you’ve basically sent his monster. But they add the little monsters. Why? It makes it more bad ass. No, it doesn’t. They pop up as a convenient mechanism to raise tension and horror. It fails for two reasons. The little monsters are easy to fight off and two we don’t give a crap about the characters anyways. Let’s do a role call. We got the brother who seems to always be arguing with his beautiful girlfriend, yet beautiful girlfriend doesn’t fail to drop hints that she wants to marry him. We got the “hero” who slept with the love of his life and never called her. How deep is your love buddy? Oh, right he is moving to Japan. Still, not even a phone call. Then the dream girl thinks it would be in everyone’s best interest to bring her latest boy toy to his going away party. Then of course the camera man. A simple guy. Always says the right funny things to break the tension. The camera guys love interest. Another beautiful girl that ignores him but through their experience she ends up flirting with him. All the cliché characters? Present and accounted for. Needless to say, the heartbreak kid gets a panic phone call from his dream girl. She is trapped. Oh no. (Just moments before this phone call, no one else’s phone worked. They kept saying something about no signal.) Hero says he will go to her, alone. But his friends won’t have any of that. So they head back into the lion’s den. Chase here, duck and cover, shake the camera, say something funny, repeat. There is another random element thrown in that I won’t give away, but am I the only thinking what’s the point of that? You’ll understand when you watch it. (key line, I don’t feel so good) I usually don’t pick apart movies in terms of suspension of disbelief but that seems to be the premise of Cloverfield. I won’t list all, but man, that is one wicked camera. Apparently they couldn’t decide whether the footage is on tape or SD card. Battery life on that baby is amazing and they even used the built in light. If the battery life isn’t enough to make you want to buy it, then check out that shock resistant. Drops, kicks, fireballs, crashes. Only maintenance you need is to wipe the lens. Another thing that got me out of the movie is the Air Force has the worse aim. There is a big ass monster that doesn’t move too fast but yet they miss and hit all sorts of sky scrappers. What gets me is throughout the whole movie, it has gone the Hollywood way, but in the end, the filmmakers pretend they haven’t gone Hollywood and give us an anti-Hollywood ending. Not that the Hollywood ending would have made it any better but some closure would be nice. (Besides a t-shirt, what is slusho?) That is all I got. If you want to use this you can just call me Honest Abe.
Fair enough, man. Still... it’s going to make some people crazy. Crrrraaaaaaaaaazy. Like this...
Hey Harry, never written in before, even when I met Edward Norton on the set of The Incredible Hulk and pitched him on a screenplay. No photos due to an overly aggressive security guard who later claimed some lady spat on him after he tried to erase a photo she took of an awesome sequence when five or six Military Hummers and 20 ground troops came in and chased Ed away from Liv Tyler. They shot it at least 7 or 8 times that day. I digress . . . I just saw Cloverfield and it's, it's, it's . . . . a mazing! ~ betcha thought i was gonna say 'lion'! Everything Harry says of Cloverfield is pretty much bang on and is certainly the kind of film that must have made him love film in the first place. "It will knock your socks off!" The monster is amazing, what a concept, what a close up! Best monster film ever! I am sure there will be many sequels as it rampages the United States. Don't forget to stop in to Washington, DC. RUPERT PUPKIN
I think a lot of people will have mixed reactions, enjoying the film with some hesitations. I like these reviews because I think they’re fairly reasonable. Like this...
Greetings programs from Geek in the City here in the great city of Portland , OR ! Home of Dark Horse Comics and damn near all the writers and artists in the comic book world. Anyway, just got back from a press screening of Cloverfield. Ran right home and banged out my thoughts. If you use this I am, as always, Geek in the City.! Cloverfield – Spoiler Free Review Monster movies are great fun. Not in a Star Wars or Indiana Jones way, nor in a Snakes on a Plane drunken way. No, monster movies are the kind of fun you used to have when you played He-Man versus the Transformers as a kid. Sadly, American cinema has lacked a truly wonderful homegrown monster movie for a long time. Actually, America never had a good monster movie we could call our own. Sure, we imported and wholly embraced Godzilla and his cohorts. We even tried to update him with flashy effects and The Professional. It just didn’t work. It didn’t look right. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t right. Enter JJ Abrams and Cloverfield. After months of viral marketing, months of speculation, and months of hype… One must ask. Do we have one now? As a classic bigger than life and nigh unstoppable monster movie? You betcha’. Us in the good ‘ol U.S. of A. finally has a monster movie we can be proud. A monster we can call our own. A monster we can now speculate if it can take on Godzilla, king of the monsters! (I ain’t giving my two cents. First, that is a massive can of worms and secondly, to say one way or another would involve spoilers). Cloverfield is a new take on the classic monster movie. By new take, I don’t mean the marketing campaign or the shooting style. No, by new take, I mean that Cloverfield is the first larger than life monster movie with everyday folks. Until Cloverfield, we only got to watch soldiers and scientists take on whatever beast came from the depths of space or the deepest ocean. This time, we watch destruction from the street level, both figuratively and literally. I think that was a smart move on Abrams part. We don’t need another science versus monster film. Just watching people trying to survive the onslaught made for a far more entertaining and exciting film. What about that camera "gimmick". First, make no mistake. Marketing Cloverfield as “found footage” is a gimmick. Not saying that as a negative. If you find an angle that will bring more attention towards your film, go for it. That being said, I did have some issues with the filming style. Issues that would regularly remove me from the cinematic moment. First, Cloverfield presents itself as found footage, used by the military to analyze the attack from “The Monster”. Yet, the opening of the film has close to 20 minutes of exposition and character introduction. As a storyteller, I understand the need to present characters so your audience can feel loss when they start to drop like flies. (No, that wasn’t a spoiler. We all saw the opening 5 minutes and this is a monster movie, you know not everyone at that party is ever going home again). I also understand that if an audience is dropping their 10 bucks on a movie, they better at least get their monies worth. Cutting that opening segment turns an already short movie into an episode of Lost. Still, if we are to believe this is an analytical film, for use by scientists and the military, it is damn hard to swallow the opening going away party. Is that nitpicking? You bet it is, and so is the following. Again, if you are presenting a film as found footage as shot by amateurs, starring amateurs, you need to avoid perfectly framed shots. Can the everyday Joe get one or town shots just perfect? Absolutely. However, I doubt anyone would focus on romantic displays while a beast is tearing your city apart. Maybe I shouldn’t be so picky. Maybe I should just be happy we finally have a good homegrown monster movie. Don’t get me wrong. I am, and I honestly hope for a Cloverfield 2. However, if there is a second film, I could do without all the human drama beyond the desire to survive the attack. Perhaps my definition of a monster movie is far too limited; then again, I walked out of The Mist feeling a profound sense of loss and dread. Cloverfield, not so much. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great time. I did, but only when people were screaming, buildings were crashing, missiles were flying, and monsters were killing. Whenever the action slowed, whenever I was forced to care about the lives of the survivors and there wasn’t a monster stalking them; I just got a little bored. Cloverfield is a fantastic experiment. An experiment of matinee quality that I sincerely hope Abrams, Paramount, and crew expand upon. Just remember, less people. More monsters!
Harry, Here are my thoughts on Cloverfield from the sneak perview I saw last night. If you use this call me abaddon Cloverfield directed by Matt Reeves, produced by JJ Abrams I went into this film thinking it would be one of those films where viewers would be split between those who loved it or hated it. I was dead wrong because I have really conflicting feelings about this film. Examined solely as a monster movie, the film rocks. As someone who was raised on Saturday afternoons filled with Mothra, Gamera, and King Ghidorah, the movie was a blast. Big monster comes to a city, kills a ton of people, knocks over buildings, I mean the 10 year old inside me was having seriously fun flashbacks. Problem is, I am quite a bit older now and I was expecting this film to have slightly more depth than that. In places, the film works because there is some very strong dialogue and realistic scenes scattered throughout the movie. During the monster's initial attack, when no one is sure what is happening, one of the characters voices the fears of everyone, "is this another terrorist attack?" The look of terror on the faces in that room was chilling and totally believable. The scenes of people taking pictures of the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty as well as the rioting taking place during the monster's attack were both accurate depictions of the way people could react in a crisis situation. Much of the rest of the film, however, really makes no sense when you even begin to think about it slightly. The creature comes ashore on Manhattan, and the main characters keep running into the beast, even though Manhattan is one pretty large land mass. This could be explained by there being more than one monster roaming around, but they never say how many large creatures are attacking. Another point that confused me, (minor spoiler), the large creature drops smaller creatures from its body, which are extremely fast and vicious. These smaller creatures are shown decimating the army soldiers they encounter, yet when our heroes encounter these creatures during one of the truly terrifying sequences in the film; they are able to beat them back with only one of their party suffering major injuries. The monster itself is an enigma. No explanation is given as to where it came from, whether it is intelligent or not, or why it is able to shrug of direct hits from high-powered explosives with nary a scratch. During the two scenes where the audience gets a clear look at it, it appears slightly different, making me wonder if there were multiple large monsters attacking the city. I am not one who needs everything explained to me, but some small hints as to the nature of the beast, or a slight amount of closure to the end of the film would have been nice. I went into this movie hoping to see Godzilla (1954) for the new millennium. This film strives for that, but falls sadly short. In the end, Cloverfield is, to quote Shakespeare, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". I would recommend waiting for this one on video.
Like I said... the people who don’t like it are going to reeeeeeeally not like it. Like this:
CLOVERFIELD I saw the film in Boston last night at a 7pm screening. Lost is my favorite show on television, and Matt Reeves has directed some great episodes of Felicity, but this film was an atrocious misfire. I can't imagine why anyone is impressed by this film- from my perspective it is a failure on all accounts. From the very first frame- the acting is painfully self-aware. We are immediately dropped into the middle of a bad high school improv. Why is it so hard for actors to act natural when doing mundane things? Why do I not believe someone saying something as straightforward as "You've never been to Coney Island? We should go today!" This cast (except for Lizzy Caplan) didn't actually tap deep into their real or hidden selves but rather acted the way they THINK people act in these scenarios...they yelled, cried, stared blankly- but I never believed for an instant that any of them were ACTUALLY terrified. You can't blend attempted stark realism a la hand held found footage with WB actors- it's just doesn't fly. It was comical how the only lines spoken or heard provided exposition for the plot. The tape would cut in long enough for us to hear "Hey guys I'm excited Rob's going to Japan- this party we are throwing for Rob will be great...because he is going to Japan!" Got it...throwing a party, awesome...Japan...Rob. Why couldn't the filmmakers let us DISCOVER the plot of this film instead of telling us step by step through clunky dialogue what context we were in? Even when the monster arrives the entire film feels manipulated- every effect, zoom and focus re-shift feels placed. It never feels like "found footage" it feels like "pretend found footage shot by an experienced Director of Photography but made to feel like found footage" There is NEVER tension, NEVER momentum, NEVER intention or directive. Even in ACTUAL documentaries the filmmaker finds a narrative thread. What was the narrative thread in Cloverfield? The fact that Rob wanted to get to Midtown to rescue the girl that he hooked up with once and then didn't call for a week? Oh wait...because of that ONE line of expositional dialogue we know "Rob's been into Beth since college!" Thanks Hud. One of my biggest problems with the film was how it borrowed imagery from the 9/11 tragedy. Let me be the first to say it on this site- NOT COOL MAN, NOT COOL! I was in New York City the day the towers fell. To see specific visuals from that horror-filled day now co-opted for a JJ Abrams monster flick pissed me off. One of the writers in this site was way into that aspect of the film- and was even glad that 9/11 inspired some visuals that weren't in an homage or "propaganda" film. How many 9/11 propaganda films have there been exactly Massawyrm? And what exactly does a 9/11 propaganda film seek to convince anyone of? That people dies that day? That the streets were covered in death and ash, buildings folded under themselves and crashed to the streets below? Back off Cloverfield, seriously. Pick a new city to attack. Even from a filmmaker's perspective- aren't we DONE with New York? Give me a new backdrop, place these panicked characters in an unsuspecting environment. We JUST SAW I am Legend, and a million other NY based disaster flicks. MOVE ON. It felt as if the filmmakers were knowingly doing so as they created the film- like the effects supervisors were studying shots of the towers crumbling as they built the CGI for Cloverfield. I can imagine the Director on set giving instructions on the type of panic his actors were to channel- "You know, like on 9/11" Ahh....got it. Why is this not offensive? Were all these filmmakers on the West Coast they day the towers fell? Do they not feel the panic and terror we in New York felt and STILL feel? That day wasn't a film, it wasn't imagined- people burned alive, people jumped to their death out of flaming windows. That day is not meant to be a springboard for a popcorn movie. That day demands reverence and respect. There should still be a quiet awe surrounding that memory- we shouldn't be picking apart the carrion of that day and scrapping it for parts. It's one thing to rebuild that day on film to pay homage or to give respect to the men and women that clawed through rubble to save lives on 9/11- but for Cloverfield? No thanks. The movie meanders, from scene to scene- just clunking along loudly and angrily. The monster is beyond a disappointment- how can you say "We wanted to give America their Godzilla" and then just...give us the regular Godzilla? I mean seriously you want to know what the Monster looks like? Take one part "The Host" one part "Godzilla" and one part "Aliens" and you'll get a pretty clear composite. When the film ends you're left thinking...okay so it was like every other monster movie...but shot shakily. Why should my mind be blown? Boo Boo Boo on Cloverfield. The acting was piss poor (except for Lizzy again) the concept fell apart because they didn't have the balls to TRULY shoot it and treat it like "found footage", and the film had no destiny or truly defining characteristics that will make it stand out from the likes of Primeval, Lake Placid, or dare I say it...Roland Emmerich's Godzilla... Signed, Dojo.
Is he right? Or is this guy right?
Cloverfield Vs Blair Witch First off, The Blair Witch Project was a good film. The idea of handi-cam footage being found after the event worked well and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Cloverfield is just another pale imitation, (with a dash of Godzilla thrown in). But here are five reasons why Cloverfield takes Blair Witch over its proverbial knee and gives it a good thrashing. 1. Blair Witch started leisurely, then started hinting at danger, building tension until it became almost manic, running around an abandoned house screaming at hand prints. Cloverfield similarly starts slow with 15 minutes of character building, but then promptly explodes in your face with monster mayhem and doesn’t let up until the credits roll. 2. Blair Witch starred non-actors and had no script. This means you were forced to listen to ad-libbed lines for 90 minutes about how being lost in the woods isn’t much fun. Cloverfield doesn’t just have a script; it’s got a darn good one, (written by Drew Goddard of Buffy and Lost fame). The jokes are funny, the characters feel real and, best of all, its never boring. The actors, although all are relatively unknown, all hold their own beautifully. 3. Blair Witch was made for about a buck and a half and made 250 million. This led every idiot with a camcorder to believe that they too could reach the very same heights with their film about two kids and a camera. They were wrong. Very wrong. Just like how Scream gave birth to the self-referential horror films that we all came to know and loathe, Blair Witch let loose a wave of handheld films with no script, no substance and, ultimately, no audience. Cloverfield won’t have that problem, (and yes, I’m praying to the movie gods as I write this), as although it was made on the cheap by Hollywood standards, ($30 million), that’s still too much for anyone but a studio to finance and they won’t be making another one of these again. (Unless it’s a sequel.) (But they wouldn’t do that… right?) 4. Blair Witch was supposedly a true story. That was the pre-amble anyhow, and it got some people believing. But afterwards… yeah, they were angry. Cloverfield’s plot revolves around a giant monster eating New York, so right there, there’s no confusion. Sure, you could’ve set this film in a war zone like Iraq, or the soon to be invaded Iran. But you’d split your audience. People don’t want to see the war in theatres. They can watch that on YouTube. What you can’t see is a monster terrorizing the city eating random New Yorkers. Tell me you wouldn’t pay to watch that? 5. And speaking of the monster, the big bad… in Blair Witch you never get to see it. There’s no payoff. Partly because they didn’t have the budget for it, and partly because it’s scarier if you don’t see it. But with this new generation, that doesn’t hold water. They want to see the money shot. And Cloverfield may tease you at first with quick shots of legs and such, but then you see it, and it’s big, and its bad. And when the film is done, you’ll be a little exhausted, a little out of breath and ready to line up again. holden
I think that’s certainly true. There’s going to be crazy immediate repeate business from some audiences. Kids, especially, I’m betting...
Hey, My name is Matthew, and there was a special screening here in my home state of Sandy, Utah for the upcoming J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield. Thought you might be interested... First of all, the negatives. As far as writing goes, there's nothing spectacular. There's a simple plot we've all seen before; the end result of the main characters relatively predictable from the very first screen. At some points, the dialogue is not necessarily cheesy, but just awful. The overall plot is, frankly, unrealistic. But...in all honesty, if we're talking about a monster movie, why would we care how unrealistic it is? (to an extreme, of course, and I don't feel like the film ever crossed into that territory). The positives. Some people who were over-hyped may feel like the monster is a letdown. In my opinion, the monster will not disappoint, despite how little we actually see. Honestly, what I love the most about the monster is that even as you're walking out of the theater, you still have no idea what the heck the thing was, or where it even came from. A few theories are proposed in the film itself, but none of them are ever affirmed. You can describe (roughly) what it looked like...you know it was ugly and some kind of animal, but it's not really definable. Personally, it's the coolest and most original monster I've ever seen in a film. I can't/don't want to say much more about the monster out of respect for Abrams and the filmmakers, and anyone who does spoil the monster should be arrested. But the strength of the film is how you are grabbed and put into the character's shoes. Like I said, you know nothing about the monster's origins. Neither do the characters, and throughout the movie, you only react to situations the way the characters do. In most "monster/scary movies" the tension is built with music, slow movement, with a jumpy two-second segment. In Cloverfield, the tension is built with surprising/shocking "What on earth...?" segments, and hence the few times the characters are actually jumped are the times that make you jump. (That may not make sense...) Basically, the scary moments are more realistic. And that's what may change the way filmmakers do scary movies from now on - you will actually feel like you're there with the characters, and the "jump" will depend on the characters, not the film's production itself. The tension is also built with chaos and frenzy through cinematography...that's due to the POV camera work. But as some have said, those who are easily sick/get migraines, beware. Don't go in with an empty or full stomach. Some people in my theater were actually bent over in their seats because it can have an extremely dizzying effect. All in all, I loved the film. It was refreshingly original, and while it may not completely redefine the genre, it just might plant the seeds for a revolution. The weaknesses are not, in my opinion, bad enough to outweigh the good, or even bad enough to really point out. Don't walk in expecting Star Wars, but don't expect Blair Witch, either. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.
Here’s a little more love...
I am a huge fan of the site. I check it at least 4 times a day to see what the latest news is. Saying that...I was priviledged enough to see an advance screening of Cloverfield in Chicago tonight. I have been waiting for this movie since I saw the first preview with no name. A lot of the people in the theatre were even asking if anyone knew what this movie was about. I think part of what makes this movie special is that no one really knows what they are getting into. Well, Cloverfield was a pure joy to watch. We have all seen those monster flicks that pan out to show us just how big the monster is as the army swoops in. That is what makes this special. We see the panic, the terror, the absolute shit storm that breaks out from the perspective of someone who is running for their life. You see glimpses of the beast as it wrecks havoc. There are no real explanations of where it came from or why its here. It simply just destroys everything in its path. You see how people interpret an event that they cannot comprehend. Before I go on any further, let me talk about the monster. Its big, its mean, and I still cant figure out if it is a quadraped or a triped. I have to assume it had four legs but in all the craziness of any shot that it was in it was hard to tell sometimes. There is one scene towards (wont give it away) the end that gives us a unique perspective of the monster. My reaction was literally...what the fuck just happened! The little bastards that came off of big pappa...they are like those annoying gnats that dont go away...they just have big teeth and like to eat people. This movie brings you into the mayhem in a way no other monster film has. You really are trying to escape with everyone else and then when its time to rescue the girl you are dodging those nasty little bastards too. What really draws you in is that you start caring about the characters. You know why Rob has to go after Beth. You can see that he has always loved her and is willing to risk his life for her. You love Hud's commentary as he is filming. Through all the insanity, you see them trying to rationalize what cannot be rationalized. You see all the reactions that you would go through if you were living this nightmare. Go see this movie. Dont spoil it for anyone else by adding your own commentary. Trust me...listening to Hud as he is filming is worth being quiet. Jump out of your seat with everyone else. This movie was worth the hype....it was worth the wait...it was worth the secrecy. This movie was simply a joy to watch and on that note...I wont give anything else up. You'll thank me. Harry, thanks for having this site up. It is keeps me updated on all the great movies that I love to see. If you use this...call me Methos.
And, yes, a little more love:
Hey Everyone. Just got out of a sneak screening of Cloverfield. I am not going to spoil anything for you and no matter what I say, asses will fill the seats to see the movie this weekend. It is inevitable that this movie is destined to be number one in the box office. That being said, Cloverfield is one of the most original monster movies I have seen in a long time. I enjoyed it from beginning to end, so much so that I will be going back to the theater this weekend to see it again with a general paying audience just to see their reactions to certain things. Yes, the Paramount suits were there and they warned us that any use of a cell phone be it for texting or recording the movie that we would be ejected from the theater immediately. They also told us to not tell anyone what the creature looked like. Well, I'd like to tell you what the creature looked like but it's kind of difficult without something to compare it to. Finally, something so original that it defies description. It is massive, the smaller creatures are frightening and the movie takes its time in letting you see what the creature looks like. But this is a good thing. The core of the movie is the characters caught up in this whole thing. Especially the camera guy Hud. No other movie has had a character so appropriately named. He is a living Heads Up Display. He is the one to capture all this footage and happenings that will potentially change the lives of him and his friends. And the movie is short. We are talking about an hour and a half tops. Which is good because the camera work is so raw and amateur looking that it makes you feel like you are part of the experience. But since it is from the point of view of Hud's camera, the movement can potentially give you motion sickness. When you go see the flick, make sure you see it as far back as possible. Ultimately, I can't do much more than recommend this movie. If you want to see a genre bending movie, with some of the most intense giant monster action in a good long while, this is your movie. It is quite watchable and I can't wait to see what Abrams has up his sleeve for us next. Nub the Squirrel
I like that this next guy isn’t sure if he likes the film or not. That’s a great reaction to a movie, and perfectly valid. I’ve seen films like that, where I couldn’t decide at first...
Harry, Been four years since you used a review by me. You don't write. You don't call. Clearly the love has gone out of our relationship. Actually...this is only the second time I sent you a review (the first was for "The Passion of the Mel.....um....the Christ." I just got in from a sneak preview of one of my "must see" movies of Aught-8...Cloverfield and had a few thoughts I thought I'd share. Use 'em. Don't use 'em. I just feels like I gots tah talk, yah know? Talk with people that will geek along with me. First off....I'm raw. Kinda like the moments after my one and only Lance Armstrong-style cycling wreck. Numb. The blood dripping off the end of my nose. Looking down at the skin ripped up on my knees and arms. But no pain. Dazed. Surreal. I know the pain's gonna hit and I'm gonna realize you don't take chances on a bike at 35 miles an hour. Maybe I shoulda gone to see that 27 Dresses sneak after all. That's kinda what I'm feeling in the aftermath of the beast that just ripped through my mind. I can't decide if J.J. and Reeves have pulled off something spectacular...or if they've just knocked me off my bike at 35 mph again and are laughing at me. This thing was out of the ordinary from frame one. It was a rowdy crowd in the OKC theater tonight, hungry for some magic. Talkative, especially the chick behind me who will, I'm sure, never get another date with the guy she was with. But the moment the Bad Robot faded and the movie started...silence. I've never seen anything quite like this. I won't be talking about the monster or any of the other stuff...anyone who goes to see it deserves to see it fresh. But I will say this, it's obvious almost from the get-go that NO ONE IS SAFE in this movie. Yes, there are your classic monster movie archetypes...but you realize early on that nothing is sacred in this world. Everyone is fair game. (and yes, Hud is the best comic relief since Paxton in Aliens....I kept thinking about the line, "Hey, maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal! " It applies here) When I was a wee lad back in the 70's, we had a Saturday night show called "Shock Theater". Came on at 11:30 after the late news. I remember the first night I saw the original Godzilla. Freaked me out. That night I woke up from a nightmare that Godzilla was right outside my window, his giant eyeball locked on me cowering beneath my blanket. I'm sleeping with my window shut, blinds down and curtains drawn tonight. Thank you very much, Abrams and Reeves, for ruining a perfectly good night's sleep. If these thoughts meet your tremendously high standards... you can still call me WahooRob.
See, he was rattled. It did something to him. And then for this next guy, he rejected what he saw completely. Amazing how the same film provokes both reactions, eh?
"Are you serious?!" That about sums up the feeling of the audience in attendance tonight at the Kansas City advance screening of J.J. Abram's "Cloverfield". Tucked away in the historic Film Row district of downtown Kansas City sits the Screenland Theatre, home to art films, independent cinema and some of the more interesting advance and press screenings in town. I work in the same building as the Screenland and managed to weasel my way into the advance screening of "Cloverfield" tonight. The film started at precisely 7:00 p.m. after an intro by local radio morning show host Dick Dale of 96.5 The Buzz (who sponsored the screening), theatre owner Butch Rigby and the "captain of the anti-piracy division" for Paramount Studios gave his "don't record cuz we're watching with night vision equipment" speech. Can't say I blame the guy for being all strict about that rule because if I was Paramount I wouldn't want any more of this film leaked than what's out there already. Not that the footage is bad. Quite the contrary. For what it is this movie succeeds on most levels. I think Abrams accomplished exactly what he set out to do... redefine the monster movie. But here's the thing. It didn't NEED to be redefined. At least not like this. First let me tell you about the film and then I'll tell you why I'm disappointed in it. Everything you've heard about the way the film is presented is correct. It is 100% "found footage" very similar to the first Blair Witch film. Through the replay of the video tape we are introduced to the characters and shoved right into the story, left to figure it out as it plays before us. This is actually done fairly well and we get to spend a moment or two with each important character before the shit hits the fan. Which is important because once things do start moving it gets hard to tell who is who and where they are due to the style of the camera work. There are enough "quiet" moments inbetween the action to allow you to catch up with the group and see who's around and who isn't which is another good thing. Nonstop "COPS footchase" style filming would have made me motionsick so the opportunity to stop and catch my breath along with the characters was really appreciated. It's during these quiet moments that we get to learn about the characters in bits and pieces and each of the main cast gets a moment to shine, something you don't always get in big budget action/monster/horror movies. We start to care about them and when something bad happens (and it does) we're genuinely concerned about each of them. Without a doubt the standout performance and most loved character is going to be that of cameraman Hud. His remarks throughout the film are the best, partly because he's closest to the mic on the camera (making him the easiest to hear) but mostly because he's me. The less than socially inclined buddy who cracks jokes and tells the most unusual stories at the most inappropriate times. He's tries to be the cool guy but just when he's almost there he keeps talking. Just like me. Rob may be the central character of the film but Hud is the reason you'll want to see it again because he's the guy you'll be quoting in the lobby after you vent your disappointment to your friends. The rest of the cast does really well with what they are given and I'm impressed. There aren't any Oscar worthy performances here but for a film like this they did well and that's due mainly to the script. The dialogue is great. You get all the pieces necessary to tell this story when you need them and it all flows well. There is a definite beginning, middle and end to this story even if its not the most popular beginning, middle or end. The important characters have story arcs and they make sense given what we know about them (which isn't much). The camera work, for being a first person, handheld style shoot is decent and believable for the most part. It helps to know that Hud is a tall guy (at least compared to the others) so for the moments when the camera comes away from his eye the odd angles make sense. Having filmed my share of "wedding testimonials" its believable and I knew what he was doing and why. It gets frenetic at times and there are definitely moments where I wanted to shout "point the camera up! no not that way, the other way!" because the action in the background is intense! Abrams and company know how to put on a big action film and there is one clearly going on in this film. We just don't get to see much of it. Just enough to know that there's some serious shit going down and our heroes are in the middle of it. But again it all works in the context of the way the film is presented. Same with the creature. I'm not going to spoil what exactly it is (because I honestly don't know) but you do see it... clearly... and its a scary fucker. You have to see it for yourself to know what I'm talking about because the effects are incredible. Whoever did the effects did a fantastic job. I just wish we'd seen more of their work. And I'm not spoiling the ending either. Suffice it to say, the line I opened this review with and the comparison I made should tell you what you need to know. Now here's the tough part. The what's wrong part. Really, there isn't anything wrong with this film as its presented. We're just missing a reels worth of footage somewhere. See the film comes in at just under an hour and 20 minutes (not including the 10 minutes of credits at the end) and it really feels like something was left out. And I'll tell you what that something is... the bigger story. If this film had been another 30 minutes longer, with the video footage intercut with some establishing shots of the city, the battles, the army sweeping in and blowing shit up, the mayor ordering the evacuation of the city, the president calling for nukes, whatever, it could be a truly great, GREAT monster movie. I totally get what Abrams is doing here. He's telling the intimate, personal side of the monster movie. The part you don't usually get in a Godzilla or Independence Day or whatever other giant summer popcorn flick where the world is coming to an end and people are running for their lives. And he accomplishes that goal completely. The intimate story told here works. Flat out 100% works. I feel for these characters. In the brief time we are introduced to them I like them, I want to hang out with them, I care about them. I want to see them all safe and sound on the other end of this ride. I want to know that everything works out and they live happily every after. But this film will not be enough for audiences given all the hype and buildup surrounding it. The Paramount marketing department and Abrams did a brilliant job creating buzz around this film and love it, hate it or don't give two shits about it, it got you talking. "Did you see that trailer before Transformers? What the fuck was that?" "Have you seen the new Cloverfield spot on TV?" "Check out this Slusho website I found!" It worked brilliantly and if there was an Oscar for best marketing, this team would win hands down because it got people talking and will get people in theatres to see it this weekend. But they won't be going back to see it a second time and they probably won't be telling their friends to go see it either because its just not enough. They are going in expecting to see big budget, hardcore special effects where shit gets blown up for a a couple hours and that's not what "Cloverfield" is. I know that's not what the studio is going to want to hear but its the truth. The general feeling I got from the few bits of conversations after tonights screening suggests a level of disappointment I haven't seen since, quite honestly, the first Blair Witch film. And that's sad because what Abrams and company have done here is really great. They've shown that you can have a really truly personal story within a big action movie and people will care. But the execution this time just doesn't pay off for all the buildup over the last 6 months. Its a lot like losing your virginity. There's a lot of build up to the actual event. "This is gonna be great! This is gonna be great! I can't wait! I can't wait! ... is that it?" Only unlike sex, the next time you see this film it isn't going to get any better. This film isn't what you're expecting. There is suspense and action and drama, but not the suspense, action and drama you're hoping for. If you want an intimate look at a few people trying to survive when their world is coming to an end, this is the film for you. If you're looking for that big budget kick ass blow shit up film, save your money. And if you do find yourself in a movie theater this weekend seeing "Cloverfield", and in that moment right after the screen goes black and before the first credit rolls you think to yourself "are you serious?!" ... well don't say I didn't warn you. I am the Mysterious Stranger and of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.