Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cloverfield (2008)

After seeing Monsters I had to go back and see Cloverfield.  A friend said that I should, so I figured why not.  First off I did not see this when it first came out.  I saw footage of it and said that it would just be too jarring on the eyes, and apparently it was for some.  The jarring camera work is enough to put me off, but a funny thing happens when it goes to video.  The screen shrinks and all that shaking of the camera becomes a little bit less annoying.  I say a little less because I swear the filmmaker in me wanted to grab the camera and film it the right way with less shake.  But the filmmakers of Cloverfield knew what they were doing, and that little imperfection added to the reality of what we were seeing.  I mean how scary is a Godzilla movie?  Now if you put a camera in one of the hands of someone running from Godzilla I would think that would be a whole lot more intense.  Not a new idea in this reality based world we now live in, but something someone hasn't done till now.  In fact it's an interesting take on the "monster movie".   Matt Reeves the director of the movie does a really good job at creating the fear and the anxiety of the film.  Drew Goddard who is the writer of the film does a remarkable job at the dialogue of the film.  I mean I actually think at some point that we are seeing "real" people in an extraordinary situation, and what I mean about "real" people is not actors.  That's a credit both to the director, the writer and the cast.

Now I know there was a lot of hype when this film came out, and apparently it did well in world wide release.  The studio did a lot of viral marketing, and it targeted a certain demographic to go see this film.  Well apparently it worked and there seems to be legions of fans out there for this movie.  I really do believe that EVERY FILMMAKER needs to take a lesson from this film, and use alternative ways to promote your film.  Take a look at the film "Monsters" which was released this year.  "Monsters" is a much smaller film then Cloverfield, and it probably doesn't have the P&A budget for a release like Cloverfield got, but I do think more attention to alternative ways in advertising could do for Monsters what the studio did for Cloverfield.  Of course these two films are totally different types of movies, but they are of the same genre, and hence already have a built in audience.  One film taps into that genre and builds on it, while the other film doesn't.  Now since this is a review of Cloverfield I'll stop here and just say that filmmakers and studios should take note and see that there is a different way to reach audiences other then the traditional way.

Michael Stahl-David , Jessica LucasOdette Yustman ,and  Lizzy Caplan do a fantastic job here considering they had no idea on what the monster looks like and were reacting to nothing on the set.  Maybe it's the camerawork that adds to the excitement, but at first I thought nothing about these characters and couldn't care less about them.  In fact they seemed annoying, but as the film goes on I really began caring for these characters.  That is no small feat for the actors, and they should really be applauded by their work.  The direction is also intense and Matt Reeves does a remarkable job on the film.  Critics have written about the film as a  post 911 reaction to the attacks on NY.  It's a good bet that the filmmakers did take a lot of what they saw that day and put it into this film.  Images of buildings crashing down and dust clouds heading towards the people are all too familiar images of 911.  The film does tap into that anxiety, and that dread of 911, and one cannot dismiss those feelings.  It seems to be part of our collective memory now, and images that look and feel like 911 can stir up those feelings in all of us.  The filmmakers do a good job in tapping into that angst while not exploiting it.  It is only fair that people compare this film to some 911 moments since the movie deals with an attack of New York city, but like all films coming out after 2001 Cloverfield deals with a fictitious attack on NY by a monster of unknown origin.  The movie humanizes the attack by concentrating on the people and not the attack itself.  It's this that makes Cloverfield so engaging. 

Because it was suppose to be a point of view story told through a camcorder there is no music in the film, yet the sound track is filled with dread.  Only in the beginning do we hear music that is from the party in the beginning of the film.  Also another great plot device is the notion of going over pre-recorded material.  Occasionally we see the two leads in better days and it is these scenes that kind of make you feel for the characters a bit more.  I have to say I thought I would hate this movie, but I really didn't.  In fact I wanted to see more.  I wanted to know more about the monster, and the events that lead up to the story.  I wanted to know the after effects and what happens to our main characters.  I guess the old saying leave them wanting more is right.  J.J. Abrams has said that a sequel is coming, but he's not rushing it, and it will take a new direction which sounds intriguing.

I really do like this film, and want to see more.  I'm a bit frustrated at not seeing it now, but hopefully real soon the filmmakers will get together and start filming a continuation of the storyline.  There are a lot of speculation that it wouldn't be a sequel or it'll be another point of view of the monster marauding through the streets of NY.  Whatever the scenario is I'm sure it'll be an interesting storyline.  If you haven't seen the film the film is available on DVD, and if your a monster movie fan all I can say is "what are you waiting for".  See it.

1 comment:

Pete Bauer said...

I saw this in the theaters and the drastic handheld camera work was pretty tough to sit through for the entire film.

However, I did like how they used it, on occasion, to great effect by only showing you pieces of info at a time.