film review: Cloverfield (2008)

film review: Cloverfield (2008)

From the team that brought you Felicity, Cloverfield is a heart-warming tale of a man searching for a love that he had tried to deny. Kind of. Mostly it’s about a monster attacking Manhattan.

Cloverfield is really the first big “event” film of 2008. The buzz around the trailer when it was first shown before Transformers was immense. Also, given that it’s produced by J.J. Abrams, creator of the hit TV series Lost and director of Mission Impossible III, it was bound to have a marketing juggernaut behind it. Though possibly not quite what we’re going to see for Sex and The City: The Movie.

But anyway, is it any good? The answer from me is yes. I really enjoyed Cloverfield, at the time. It’s one of those popcorn movies, turn off your brain and don’t think too much… in fact best if you don’t think at all.

There’s no particular plot (aside from what I mentioned in the first line of this… no, really!). All it is is a giant monster attacking Manhattan. Actually there is a tiny bit of plot at the beginning which you will have seen in the trailers – the party for Rob – and in my eyes it does go on for a little too long at approximately 15 mins but mostly the film is untroubled by a narrative. What you do get is 85 mins of some hapless New Yorkers running around in absolute mayhem which I can tell you takes little time to unfold. The whole film proceeds at breakneck speed, pretty much assaulting you with noise, flames and falling debris. It’s exactly how the trailer makes it look (and no more) and what more can you ask for from a giant monster movie? I will say this, it’s not particularly scary or shocking but there are a good few moments where you think “Oh my god!” along with the characters and you can’t help but wonder what you would do if you were in the situation.

Given that it’s set in Manhattan and involves its destruction I’m sure there are many people who’ll draw parallels with September 11th and there’ll be more who will talk about whether the film is a comment on the progression of society. If you look at the current political climate, at how big corporations exploit the environment, is the monster a product of the “decline in social responsibility”…? Whatever, I’ve really no interest in pondering about that. There’s a great hulking monster destroying New York and there’s nothing more to it than that if you don’t want there to be.

Anyway, like I said, I really enjoyed the film however it is not without its flaw – singular, but it’s a big one. It is entirely shot through the view of a handycam. While it’s all great for the realism and it really does work in context; I get pretty bad motion sickness and the theatre I saw it in was pretty warm so I did have to look away from time to time. Then again, it’s only 85 mins long so it was tolerable and there were plenty parts where you can look away without fear of missing anything (unless you particularly like watching the feet of people running). For me, the good outweighed the bad and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for 85 mins of destruction but to be honest if it were any longer there’s no way I could have taken that shaky camera work.



  1. comment-avatar
    PatrickFebruary 1, 2008 - 10:18 pm

    Good review Nicola. There were reports of people vomiting in theaters because of the shaky camera motions, even a doctor appeared on ABC telling people not to get sucked into the movie too much and look around the theater for a few seconds to restore a sense of reality!

  2. comment-avatar
    emmetFebruary 2, 2008 - 10:22 am

    Have to concur on the shaky camera thing. I felt a bit queazy from it a couple of times.

    Otherwise though it was great, I particularly liked the Hud character.

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