God this movie came out almost 10 years ago…
I remember really liking this movie when it came out, i watched it multiple times when i bought the DVD and critically it was well received.
But as times change, i change and i was curious if i would still like the film 10 years later.
When a giant monster attacks New York you get to spend the event not seeing the interesting stuff.
The low-fi nature of the found footage technique allows for most of the movie’s budget to go towards special effects. The graininess and shakiness of the footage also has the added benefit of obscuring any imperfections of the monster, and as a result the movie’s effects still hold up quite well.
The found footage technique employed by the film also has the added benefit of giving credence to the film’s teasing nature. The characters when confronted face to face with the monster are only able to catch glimpses of the events as they are busy running for their lives, and i as an audience member am tethered to them so i have no choice but to follow along. This is far better than the frustrating cutaways used by Godzilla (2014); Cloverfield‘s teasing is implicit by design and not forced upon the viewer explicitly.
Lastly Michael Giacchino supplied the music that accompanies the end credits, and it is a welcome addition at that.
Imagine if you will a room filled with the most extraordinary event you can conceive, anything you can think of; and then imagine seeing that event through the keyhole of the door. That’s what Cloverfield is like in a nut shell.
There’s a flawed way of thinking here in this movie, and that is a focus on relatability with the characters. And with that goal in mind the producers of Cloverfield succeed, we’ve all been to going away parties, we’re all just normal people trying to get on with our lives in the face of small dramas like relationship issues, and we would all fail to comprehend what was going on and be completely helpless in the face of a Kaiju attack.
However real life is incredibly boring when juxtaposed against a giant monster attacking the city. Seeing extraordinary events through the eyes of everyday people seems like an interesting idea until i see it in action. Throughout the entire affair i keep wanting to not only know more about the events but be out where the neat stuff is happening; and that just isn’t possible. As normal people wouldn’t be able to witness the entire event presented in Cloverfield and that sucks.
The same problem infests Godzilla (2014), where the producers take great care to fill the movie with as much relatability as possible and i couldn’t care less. I don’t care about a bunch of kids screaming as Godzilla attacks the Golden Gate Bridge, nor do a give a shit about some guy going to rescue his gal when there’s a 300 ft monster tearing shit up just out of view (turn the god damned camera around! I want to see!).
What should be done in any movie is to make characters and situations both interesting and more importantly (for the former) likable. Godzilla, Cloverfield and the people fighting against them don’t need to have a fat cat or dog they care about, nor do they need a girlfriend or wife and kid for me to be invested in them if they are interesting and likable.
Godzilla (1998) takes a lot of flak, but at least it had the brains to be where the action is. Cloverfield doesn’t, and it’s incredibly frustrating.
Cloverfield tries something new in an old genre, and as an experiment its admittedly interesting. However not all experiments lead to good things and that’s the case with this movie.
With its pinhole focus the movie is ultimately unsatisfying, tons of questions remain in the aftermath while the credits role. And just like how the characters ponder about the nature of events so do i as a viewer, and just like them i haven’t the slightest clue.
Ultimately what saves the film from being a complete bore is its fast pace.
OUT OF FIVE