Movie Review: Cloverfield

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

doesn’t 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; it’s the potent visual effects and the

pursuit of survival that make Cloverfield

an incredibly scary must-see date flick.