By Jeremy Knox | January 24, 2008

I’m not sure how I feel about Cloverfield. I just went to see it as a spur of the moment thing. To be honest, I was going wait until it came out on DVD. But my cousin and I were heading to Montreal, it was early in the day before the crowds, and we decided that a little detour to the local Cineplex wouldn’t be a bad idea. Besides, it was a nice day and we had a few bucks burning a hole in out pockets.

So did I like it?

Short answer: Yes I did. On a primal level the film works. I’ve always liked the literary technique of keeping the action entirely at the eye level of the man on the street. It solves a lot of plot issues and keeps a lot of clichés at bay. Yeah, it also keeps the audience in the dark about what the monster is, but does it matter? Name one horror movie that was ever improved by going into long in-depth detail about its monster. Can’t think of one? Neither can anyone else. So it’s best if it’s just some indeterminate “”thing” which will never be explained. I also liked the juxtaposition of the “”found” tape showing both the best day of Rob’s life and his worst. It’s a clever bit of writing that adds depth and should rightfully be applauded.

Oh sure, some of dialogue is a little silly and shallow, but dammit”¦ it’s a bunch of drunken people at a party. What did you expect? Shakespearian orations? I will say that the opening setup is the weakest part of the script and that the screenwriter made the mistake of writing this as a monster movie with a love story at the heart of it rather than a love story where a monster somehow appears. It’s a subtle, but important, difference. However, it’s not bad, just not as good as it could be. Works fine for me, and apparently for everyone else because it’s number one at the box office.

So did I like it?

Long answer: I can only like it so much. The film is hampered by its first person happening-in-real-time narrative, as ALL first person narrative films are similarly hampered. Editing in particular suffers because all you can really do is fast forward a little bit further ahead when things wind down too much or try to write the action to be quick paced, but not unrealistically so. However, that still leaves a lot of stuff that would never make it in any other type of film. For example, if you take out all the dialogue that consists of people yelling “”RUN!” or remove all the shots of running feet and people looking around scared, you’ve just cut the film down by half an hour or more, at least. However, Cloverfield does the best it can with these limitations and I honestly think that its unavoidable flaws give it character, rather than simply make it annoying.

“”We’ve got a Bite!”

Viral marketing started years ago, but it’s been gaining momentum with new films as regular marketing avenues are more and more cluttered It’s also a clever solution to standard advertising because it forces potential viewers to become involved under the guise of a game, rather than just watch commercials passively. However, I can already see how viral marketing will be become very very tiresome very very quickly. It’ll be like the presidential elections where you become so f*****g sick of hearing about so-and-so that by the time someone let’s you near a polling station you just want to vote against the a*****e f****r whose face you’ve seen plastered on every square inch of flat surface for the last 10 million miles. Or think of it like this, what if you were in front of a hot girl who just kept teasing you for MONTHS before she let you get your dick anywhere near her? After a few experiences like that you’d never get another hard on for the rest of your life. A movie is no different, if it just keeps tantalizing you with footage you start to become tired of hearing about it and sort of tune out, just like you do all other forms of advertising. Kudos for originality in marketing, but I dunno how sustainable this is in the long run.

The Godzilla Miracle Project

Oh, and on the subject of Cloverfield being “”Blair Witch” meets “”Godzilla”, I’d like to throw in another name in the pot: “”Miracle Mile“ the 1988 movie starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham. Field’s overall plot about having to escape a doomed city while finding a loved one, and its subsequent gut wrenching ending is damn close to Mile. Don’t get me wrong though, this is nothing except a total coincidence, Miracle Mile is one of those movies that lonnnnnnng ago fell off the radar and I doubt that anyone involved in Clover even knew of it’s existence, but it’s a cool bit of trivia nonetheless.

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  1. Beamer says:

    Well, I can’t speak for “people”, but I don’t think that’s what I was saying at all. To use King Kong again, you had engaging characters and layered story, but the beast was THERE. The love story was integral and engaging. I’m all for the “going back to save Beth” story line. The love story in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but A) that’s not how the film was marketed, and B) the monster became less antagonist and more background action/context.

    Obviously you’re getting defensive because you loved the movie, and maybe because you’re a professional reviewer whose opinion is being disagreed with. That’s cool.

    If I made it seem like all I wanted was “smash and carnage” with no substance, then that’s my bad. I wasn’t looking for smash and carnage. I was looking for a monster which I didn’t get enough of. The mini-monsters were good, but Abrams created what was a great, new monster that we really didn’t see a whole lot of.

    I don’t typically go to blockbuster action movies, simply because I don’t just get off on s**t blowing up. Despite my love of the original, I still haven’t made the effort to see the newest Die Hard because there are too many other good movies out there that I’m catching up on. When I do see an exciting trailer as I did with Cloverfield I want the appropriate follow-through.

    Once again, I didn’t hate Cloverfield, it just didn’t give me what I was looking for. But I guess that’s because I’m a cinematic heathen who wants nothing but buildings smashed and popcorn stuck in my teeth.

  2. That’s the problem, people want just outright monster mayhem and really aren’t willing to settle for anything beyond the monster messing s**t up, instead of focusing on characters in the middle of this mayhem. Once again audiences prove when it comes down to it they just want smash and carnage and nothing more.

  3. Beamer says:

    Felix – the “caveat,” or problem rather, is that this was billed as a monster movie. I haven’t seen The Host, so can’t speak to that, but from the genesis story I read, JJ Abrams felt that America needed its own monster as Japan has Godzilla. If that’s his mission then I’m not sure it was a success.

    Was it a horrible movie? No. It was quite creative actually. Was it the badass monster movie that I expected from the trailer with the Statue of Liberty’s head flying across the city? Not quite. That was probably one of the best moments of the movie for me. Hell, King Kong had a love story (two maybe), but Kong was always at the center of it all chasing sailors through the jungle and messing up New York.

  4. Drew Gutierrez says:

    As of right now they have the ability to potentially do a different number of things with a potential sequel…I personally hope that IF they do a sequel…they dip into WHAT it was in the background that fell into the water at coney island…IF that was it than all the viral marketing has some contradictions because we were “tracking” this beast coming to the new york harbor like 2 days prior to 1-18-08. Could that be the “Thing” that was in the photo on that was washed up on the beach. NO exactly sure. As i mentioned on felix’s blog post on here tagruato and tidowave are back online…so i’m not sure what that means. Regardless i’ve seen it twice so far and i’m noticing little things here and there both times i saw it. (plus i’m not feeling as sick after the movie anymore either)

    Bottom line for me is it’s a J.J. Abrhams film and it was basically something you would come to expect from J.J. i only hope he follows up with something on it (have the cloverfield monster on LOST and just devour EVERYONE *c’mon tell me that wouldn’t be cool even as a dream sequence lol*)

  5. alex57212 says:

    Yeah i liked cloverfield but the ending was kinda bad i wanted everyone to live. well that one girl lives i think the one that got into the chopper at the scene where everyone tries to leave into the choppers and only one does. So what happens to that chick? i dunno i think she lives right? well you tell me

  6. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    “First, I want to agree that this was not really a monster movie, but a love story with a monster.”

    And “The Host” was really about a family coming together, with a monster featured. I fail to see the caveat there.

  7. Beamer says:

    First, I want to agree that this was not really a monster movie, but a love story with a monster. Mostly because… there wasn’t enough f’ing monster in it! I love Casablanca. I love Modern Times. I love Do the Right Thing. But when I go to a monster movie, I go to see s**t blow up and a giant m**********r stomping on s**t. Not enough of both.

    I would disagree with you on another point though. We should have been told where it came from. I know that there was something falling into the ocean in the last shot, but I sure didn’t see it and I’d imagine that most people who aren’t nerds like me who go online the moment they get home still don’t know about that. The style makes that kind of exposition difficult for sure. I don’t know how I’d do it, but that’s why they don’t pay me to write movies.

    Bottom line: That crazy mystery s**t will fly for Lost when there’s hope of an answer next week. It won’t when you only have two hours to tell a story. I’m done with the viral crap once I’ve seen the film.

  8. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    I LOVED “Cloverfield.” It was so much fun. And there are still unanswered questions I hope is explored in further spin offs or mythos widening products.

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