Length: 85 minutes
Release Date: January 18, 2008
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Genre: Action / Sci-Fi / Thriller
“Cloverfield” is a science fiction action thriller starring Michael Stahl-David, T.J. Miller and Jessica Lucas. The film follows six young New Yorkers as they try to escape the city after a mysterious creature begins attacking New York. After turning back to rescue one of their friends, the group encounters the creature and ends up fighting for their lives.
“Cloverfield” opens with a disclaimer that the footage to follow was found in an area “previously known as Central Park.” After the disclaimer fades away, the found footage begins by showing a man named Rob waking up after sleeping with his friend Beth. The couple make plans to visit Coney Island, but the recording is interrupted when Rob’s brother Jason records over it to film the preparations for Rob’s going away party. He inadvertently record’s over most of Rob and Beth’s trip to Coney Island, but the film occasionally flashes back to that day when Jason pauses the recording on the night of the party.
At the going away party, Jason gives the camera to his friend Hud, who films partygoers sending Rob a message before he moves to Japan for his new job. When Beth arrives at the party with a date, Rob becomes upset that he and Beth never began dating after their trip to Coney Island. After Rob and Beth have a tense discussion, she leaves the party.
Shortly after, the group hears a loud explosion. Going down to the street, they see the head of the Statue of Liberty land mere blocks away from where they are standing. Hud, who is still filming, claims he saw some kind of creature hiding behind some of the buildings. After replaying the recording, they decide to evacuate the city.
Rob, Hud, Jason and two women from the party — Lily and Marlene — attempt to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Just as they enter the bridge, the tail of the creature destroys it, causing it to collapse and kill Jason. When the group retreats, Rob gets a message on his phone from Beth that says she is trapped in her apartment building which has also collapsed.
After arguing about which direction to take, the individuals ultimately stick together and make their way to Beth’s apartment. Along the way, they are hunted by the strange creature who is intent on destroying the city of New York.
“Cloverfield” uses the now-pervasive found footage technique in a way that separates it from the pack. The found footage manages to tell the prelude to the events that take place the night of the party, and the flashbacks inform the audience about the history of Rob and Beth’s relationship. By using the footage to tell the backstory, the film is able to focus primarily on the action of the film.
The film itself is extremely fast-paced, although the dialogue guides the audience as to what is happening. The main plot is balanced well with various subplots like the relationship between Rob and Beth, which adds a human aspect to the film. During the bulk of the movie, the characters are forced to react first and feel the emotional response later. Unfortunately for some characters, they never get the chance to process what takes place.
Although “Cloverfield” was not produced with the kind of endless budget of more mainstream films, the visual effects are impressive. The creature unleashes a devastating attack on the city, collapsing bridges and buildings and even damaging the Statue of Liberty. The way the devastation is filmed is actually quite believable. There is also a scene showing the military attempting to destroy the creature, which is equally impressive in terms of special effects.
The filming of the creature — or the lack thereof — also adds a terrifying element to the film. The creature is never shown in its entirety. Instead, the audience is given only brief glimpses of it. The ever-lurking presence of the creature makes the characters more driven to survive, adding a great deal of suspense to a film that already has enough action sequences to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
One of the best aspects of the film is its series of hidden clues. Although spotting the clues is not required for audiences to understand the film, they show the attention to detail that went into filming “Cloverfield.” Best of all, the very last scene shows the creature arriving in New York and leaves the possibility for a sequel open.
“Cloverfield” has everything a good suspense film should have. The found footage film technique is a wise choice in the case of this movie, freeing up time for the characters’ treacherous trip through New York City to save a friend. From start to finish, “Cloverfield” tells an entertaining story any movie fan can appreciate.
It’s a Giveaway! Enter Here for a Chance to Win the Transformers Trilogy on Blu-Ray!