Entertainment » Movies

Cloverfield

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Jan 18, 2008
Michael Stahl-David and Odette Yustman in "Cloverfield"
Michael Stahl-David and Odette Yustman in "Cloverfield"  (Source:Paramount Pictures)

The claustrophobic hand-held camera style of filmmaking born of "The Blair Witch Project" has finally met new heights - where "Blair Witch" was creepy in its suggestive use of glorified innuendo and our innate fear of being lost in the woods, "Cloverfield" offers us a Godzilla movie for the twenty-first century, in which 9/11 is revisited on New York courtesy of an unstoppable, unimaginable beasty from the deep blue. Peppered with effective (if not stellar) acting and blended with a dash of humor, it's a dreadfully fun film that - if you can get past the shaky camerawork - is a mid-January treat.

The first half hour of the film is the slowest, as the primary characters are set up via a New York going away party. Rob (Michael Stahl-David) is moving to Japan (a touch of irony there), and his friends "Hud" (T.J. Miller), Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), Lily (Jessica Lucas) and brother Jason (Mike Vogel) are enjoying a curious little apartment fete (curious because it's filled with twenty-somethings in New York City and nobody is doing drugs) to see the man off. A little drama ensues when Rob's latest fling Beth (Odette Yustman) walks in on the arms of another guy and then leaves after a huffy argument with Rob, but all of that is stopped short when said beasty from the deep blue finally gets pissed enough about the Manhattan housing prices (I'm kidding, we don't know why the beasty is mad-as-hell) and throws a temper tantrum on the island itself. Quakes, fires, explosions and bedlam ensues.

I make light of the plot largely because it's surreal - and when Rob realizes that Beth is trapped in her apartment across town, he and his friends make a seemingly ridiculous decision to go rescue her, which is so out-of-character for partying twenty-somethings it's almost humorous. Fortunately, the deft action plotting by writer Drew Goddard and some truly tense direction by Matt Reeves keeps you nail-biting right through to the credits. Moreover, between Michael Bonvillain's stomach-tumbling camerawork (which in many screenings has resulted in walkouts) and the exquisitely managed effects courtesy of Double Negative and Tippett Studio, the film packs a surprisingly realistic punch.

All of which makes this the perfect January film, when northern audiences are usually desperate for some mid-Winter escapism. It's fresh, fun and ferociously suspenseful, an enjoyably witty apocalypse that manages to float without star power on the engines of some seriously effective viral marketing. Moreover, I'd be lying if I didn't admit a perverse thrill on behalf of the beasty whose doing his/her best to rearrange the skyline of New York City - to a degree, isn't that part of the charm of Godzilla? And if that thought makes you more seasick than the camerawork, just imagine that Mitt Romney's inside the Statue of Liberty's head when it gets tossed like a baseball into the streets of New York. That ought to take the edge off.

Cloverfield

As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.

Info

Runtime :: 85 mins
Release Date :: Jan 18, 2008
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States

Cast

Rob :: Michael Stahl-David
Jason :: Mike Vogel
Beth :: Odette Yustman
Marlena :: Lizzy Caplan
Lily :: Jessica Lucas
Hud :: T.J. Miller
Bodega Cashier :: Anjul Nigam
Antonio :: Theo Rossi

Crew

Director :: Matt Reeves
Screenwriter :: Drew Goddard
Producer :: J.J. Abrams
Producer :: Bryan Burk
Executive Producer :: Guy Riedel
Executive Producer :: Sherryl Clark
Cinematographer :: Michael Bonvillain
Film Editor :: Kevin Stitt
Production Design :: Martin Whist
Costume Designer :: Ellen Mirojnick


David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.


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