The last time we endured the streets of Manhattan being terrorized
by humongous, otherworldly creatures (not counting the CGI configured
characters in I Am Legend), it was
when that Godzilla remake went on a
rampage in 1998.
The giant lizard genre has mutated for the new millennium courtesy
of bizarre movie man J.J. Abrams in the form of Cloverfield – think “Godzilla Unplugged” – with
chillingly realistic results. Ever since the first teaser was unveiled last
summer in front of Transformers; Cloverfield, has sparked considerable
speculation as a horror flick that would play as a Blair Witch Project.
Even though it paints a screamingly bleak picture, Cloverfield is unlike anything else out
there. With its get-to-it running time (84 minutes), unknown cast ensemble and
skimpy budget ($25 million), that doesn’t skimp on cool special effects. This
gruesome story of destruction and mayhem seems destined to bring in plenty of
youthful moviegoers this peaceful Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
Filmed entirely from a camcorder’s-eye view, the film begins at a
going away party for Rob (Michael Stahl-David), who’s relocating to Japan for a
high paying Vice President gig. His best friend, Hud (T.J. Miller) has been
handed videographer duties. Even though Hud is clearly a novice, his shaky
camera work still manages to capture some personal and heart felt goodbyes, as
well as, revealing drama between Rob and longtime friend, Beth (Odette
The festivities are cut short by a jolting September 11 type
explosion, horrific fireballs and an inevitable blackout. By the time electric
generators kick in, there’s panic in the streets, along with glimpses of the
gargantuan thing leaving mass destruction in its path. The poor Lady of Liberty
doesnt stand a chance against this unknown creature. In one of the first
scenes of destruction, her head is pounced into the center of midtown.
Even as the credits roll ending the movie, neither the audience
nor the actors can put a finger on who, when and why. The plot – obviously
trading on our post-war-on-terrorism anxieties – never offers any explanations
for the creature’s presence. The fact of the matter is that this creature is pi**ed
off at something.
Instead, Cloverfield focuses
on a small group of individuals, played by fresh-faced young actors, not yet
suffering from overexposure. They aren’t particularly interesting or developed,
but who has time to exhibit intriguing character traits when you’re trying to
outrun a monster?
Besides, there’s something refreshing about a monster movie that
isn’t filled with the usual suspects, like The Hero, The Rebel and The Sexpot.
This group is simply trying to survive and the audience comes along for the
Be advised that the handheld camerawork does much of the shaking
with you with claustrophobic intensity; its the potent visual effects and the
pursuit of survival that make Cloverfield
an incredibly scary must-see date flick.