Ken's Review: Cloverfield - Everything I Have Ever Wanted From a Monster Movie
by Ken Evans
January 18, 2008
Everyone has envisioned a certain kind of film that they have wanted to be perfect. It could be that you don't think that perfect vampire movie has been made yet. Or you haven't been satisfied with the last 10 attempts to make a truly perfect zombie film. Well my friends, if you have ever wanted there to be the perfect monster film then wait no longer. Cloverfield was what I have always wanted out of a monster movie. Everything that I could have hoped for was there, and everything I didn't want to be there was missing. I absolutely LOVED this film!
Cloverfield is about a group of friends trying to survive a monster attack in New York. That's all you need to know about the plot. Trust me when I say that there is so much more to it then that, but the less you know beforehand the more it adds to the overall mystery of the film. Watching the trailers should be enough to hype you up without giving away much of anything. They really did a perfect job of marketing this movie. Usually too much is shown in a trailer, or too much of the plot is given away. What truly makes this film is the mystery within it.
Mystery is key. If you are the kind of person who needs an explanation and closure to everything, then this is not the movie for you. All the things you think you need to know about why things are happening and how the monster got there are never explained. You think you need to know those things, but you are really better off not knowing. This type of film needs to be kept simple so that it doesn't get weighed down. There are only so many ways to explain a monster showing up in downtown New York. All of those explanations sound cheesy and would probably be cliché. J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves skip them because the mystery of it all is what makes it so exciting.
What really surprised me about Cloverfield was the story. Yes, there is a story. It's one that involves people that you actually care about. In fact, the first twenty minutes of the film are spent developing the characters all so that they matter later on. Plus, it's a real story that you can connect with. This is extremely important because you actually become one of them. That's right, sitting in the audience you actually become one of the main characters.
The best character in the film is a guy named Hud Platt (played by T.J. Miller). He is our eyes and ears in the movie as he carries around the camera. Seeing through his eyes is how we experience everything. I suddenly felt sucked into the film and could see myself reacting and even saying the things that Hud said. He says the things that all of us in the audience are thinking. Those times when they are going into the dark corridor are obviously stupid, so Hud speaks up. When one of the characters is having a contemplative moment while people are dying all around him, Hud speaks up. I know I've connected with a character on a much deeper level then Hud, but never have I connected with one so quickly.
As good as the characters and story were, that is not why we went to see Cloverfield. The simple fact is we want to see the monster. Well, if it is monster you want, then you will not be disappointed. There is plenty of monster to see. The amount and ways you see it reminds me a lot of Alien. You don't see the alien for the first half of the film, but in the second half you get a few glimpses and finally a few clear shots of it at the end. As much as I think I would like to see a monster tearing up a city in broad daylight, I know that that would be a horrible idea. Once you get a solid picture of what it is that's so terrifying, it starts to lose its wonder and amazement. Most of the fear that is created is in the inability to fully know or understand what it is that is attacking.
Hopefully you kept yourself from digging too deep and reading how the film develops. If you were able to do so then you will get a kick out of how much really goes on in this movie. What I suggest more then anything is to watch Cloverfield and just enjoy it. Enjoy the unanswered questions and let your imagination fill in the blanks. Become Hud and experience a monster attack through his eyes. Let yourself get caught up in the rush instead of trying to hold it to the rules of reality. This could very well be one of the most enjoyable films of the year. I can't wait to see it a second time this weekend.