by James Gilmore
Cloverfield (2008) is like reliving a Godzilla movie from the ground and might be more aptly named “Godzilla Takes Manhattan.” Still, it is truly a B-movie concept with A-level execution. Filmed in the style of minimalist cinéma vérité with the main action taking place over a 24-hour period, this tense adventure is delightfully immersive and filled with excitement at every twist and turn, although a satisfactory epilogue feels unfortunately absent.
At times the first-person camera work will make the viewer ill, it eventually settles to the point where one no longer notices. There are annoying eruptions of chaos and some repetitive dialogue, but these are fairly superficial in comparison to the overall emotional and visual strength of the film. The character of Beth (played by Odette Annable) stands out as glaringly weak in comparison to the remainder of the robust cast, with the exception of “Hud” (played by T. J. Miller), whose character may rank among one of the most annoying in history—nearly on par with Jar Jar Binks.
The most blatant issue Cloverfield is that it feels comprised of two separate films intercut together. The opening of film accurately captures 21st century youth in its indigenous environment, complemented by enough relationships and life problems to carry the rest of the film without any monster at all. While the monster portion of the film certainly connects the two parts of the story, they could have been separated into two equally-satisfying stories.
Cloverfield is also reminiscent of Quarantine (also 2008), only without the quarantine, or Godzilla meets The Blair Witch Project (1999).
Rating: 4 / 5