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Cloverfield

April 10, 2010

Cloverfield

Cloverfield

*IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN IT YET AND WANT TO, DON’T READ THIS OR ANY REVIEW, GO, RENT, WATCH, THEN READ THIS*

An interesting film, not great in and of itself, but brilliant in how it was marketed and created.  J.J. Abrams, creator of Lost and Fringe, does an amazing job with this film by keeping it a complete secret and dominating the viral marketing scene unlike any other film in history.  This film has historical value, not for anything in the film, but the insane amount of buzz that was generated for this film.

The story is a pretty simple story.  A monster comes out of the sky, we think, and attacks New York City and wreaks havoc on the city.  There is a group of good looking teens who instead of trying to escape try and work their way back into the city to rescue on of their friends.  The story of this film is told in the style of a Blair Witch Project with a hand held camera.  It might seem like a fairly typical creature feature, but because of the buzz and a few tweaks in the story structure this film had so much more hype going into it.  They didn’t develop the back story like you see in most creature features.  There is no history of the creature, there is no planning of how to stop the creature, there is only a little interaction with the military.

Visually the Blair Witch Project style of shooting really works.  The point of using that type of shooting is to show exactly what and how the characters are seeing what is going on.  And this helps build the intensity of the film.  It works with the fact that the audience, when the film came out, didn’t know much more about the film then that it was going to be a creature feature.  So we gain the knowledge at the same speed as the characters in the film and only get bits of pieces of information.  This also helps draw the audience into the film and into the emotions of the characters.  There is only one notable break from this style of shooting, which isn’t supposed to be intentional.  Towards the end when they meet up with the military and the creature comes to crush a military vehicle it is a perfectly still pan, which isn’t really all that possible normally, and in the moment that it is supposed to be showing would be completely impossible.  However, the rest of the filming works wonderfully with the emotion and the story.  The director, Matt Reeves, does a great job with consistency throughout the film visually, though.

The acting is average at best.  Abrams went out of his way to pick relative unknowns to that point, which he also had to do because when they were casting for the film, they didn’t even reveal the whole story and how it was going to work to the talent that they brought in.  In terms of names in the cast, Lizzy Caplan is the notable name with some acting before, mostly on TV for Freaks and Geeks prior to Cloverfield and True Blood after.  The other main characters really had little notable performances prior to this film, and most have stayed relatively unknown simply because the performances are so over shadowed by the experience in this film that you get visually.

When it comes down to it, the acting isn’t all that great and the story isn’t all that impressive, but the experience that is created is simply stunning.  When this film came out in theaters there was a roar of anticipation that I’ve never seen for any film and no film has even bothered trying to duplicate the viral noise that this film had.  When watching this you have to simply let yourself get sucked into what is happening.  If you haven’t watched it, don’t read this review and don’t look up the plot, just go into this film and enjoy the experience.

Entertainment Grade: B+

Critical Grade: C

Overall Grade: B

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