Film review by Lee Alon
Since the dawn of humankind stories and narrative have been about
perception. And good stories were the ones that managed to play tricks
with their audience’s perceptions. This doesn’t have to be overly
meaningful or oh-golly mind bending and life changing. It’s enough to
get much more than what you were expecting to get upon sitting down to
hear the tale.
And this Cloverfield does so, so well.
In fact, it’s one of the best, most memorable movies of the decade so
far. I was literally and physically gripped with emotion when it ended,
a situation amplified by my prejudiced, indoctrinated psyche mumbling
“but it’s a monster movie, for Pete’s sake!”
saying the Grand Canyon is a gap in the ground. It’s true, but somewhat
underwhelming and unappreciative. Put plainly, Cloverfield is a masterpiece of
storytelling because it’s potent and powerful, not to mention well
managed: the thing is just over 80 minutes long and succeeds in
narrating more than most would require three times as long for. It
becomes omnipotent thanks to its short run, which means we only get
fleeting glimpses of everything, from the beautiful to the terrifying.
Cloverfield is also a superb vehicle for some new and exciting talent. All
actors herein rise to the challenge and perform marvelously, so here’s
hoping we’ll be watching more from Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman,
T.J Miller, Jessica Lucas and Mike Vogel sometime soon.
film has been the subject of much speculation, with producer JJ Abrams
of Alias and Lost fame and director Matt Reeves (Felicity) playing it
hush hush. The wait was worth it, and indeed the team used Cloverfield as a neat
way of acknowledging many of the other gorgeous stories we’ve all
enjoyed in the past: War of the Worlds, Stephen King’s The Mist, maybe
even TV series Jericho. Of course Godzilla – perhaps more 1998’s US
Godzilla than the original movies, but that was a fun version no matter
how you look at it.
Cloverfield, on the other hand, isn’t about fun.
It’s about sheer emotional and contextual impact. It starts with a
going away party for one Rob Hawkins (Stahl-David), who’s bout to leave
for Japan. This is where we learn the characters aren’t all perfect and
have some issues. Then the attack comes, and a group of friends finds
itself on the run, with only a handheld camera to document events as a
mysterious monster rampages around Manhattan.
At first we
get next to no information on what’s going on, it’s all a big tease
that keeps you guessing and thus makes the inevitable twists and angles
all that more gratifying. Likewise, the destruction wrought upon NYC is
excellently depicted via capable but never overwhelming or cheesy CGI.
This also holds true for the monster when we get to see more of the
character – everything looks perfect, unlike that other New York
disaster flick of recent times, I Am Legend. Maybe this is why Cloverfield has
been catching flack vis a vis the events of September 11, it’s just so
vivid and moving, there’s nothing cinema-detached about it.
The roller coaster that this motion picture amounts to doesn’t last
long, but features everything in the storyteller’s guidebook: love,
romance, fear, hate, loss, hope, despair and quite a few more. And
you’ll feel all of them right along with the story, down to the
sobering closing moments of this wonderful ride.
therefore salute Cloverfield and all those who had a part in making it
a silver screen reality. It’s a great movie, I love it, it caught me
completely off guard and came out on top with that elusive magical
quantity called emotion, a thread so woefully missing in many other
narratives and, sadly, from life as we know it in general.
Well done people, well done: I’ll be thinking of this one for some time
to come, and am waiting with bated breath for the special edition
release. Just let me at those deleted scenes.
Rating: * * * * ½
Directed by Matt Reeves
Starring Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman, T.J Miller, Jessica Lucas, Mike Vogel
2008, English, 85 minutes
© 2008 by Lee Alon
Lee Alon is now formally addicted to gaming and believes it is the answer to
life, everything, the fish and even 42. yes, that was the question. oh, this ga
ming here has nothing to do with slot machines or little cards with royalty on '
Lee resides all over the world and thus thinks we only have each other for comfo
rt, so keep reading this space.
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