I just yesterday went and saw Cloverfield. if you ha vent heard of this movie, well, that was kind of the point. The first trailer, seen here, didn't even have the name of the movie with it, the only information it gave was the release date. None of the promotion really told you what it was about. It was obvious New York was being attacked, by a large, or possible several large things. Leading up to the release there was a lot of viral marketing, including an Alternate Reality Game, focusing on theTagruato corporation, and its big selling drink, Slusho . All of this is fun and rewarding for those who got into it (or are jumping on after the movie, like me), however it doesn't help me talk about the movie itself.
Cloverfield is a monster survival movie. At its core it is that simple, what makes it different, is what makes it so engaging. The whole movie is shown from the P.O.V of a handy cam. It starts off with a going away party for Rob. He is going to become vice president of a company in Japan (In theARG we learn it is Tagruato, in particular Slusho ). The party, and indeed the city is crashed by a monster. What follows is a more realistic (although still a little too convenient at places) tale of what ordinary people would do in that situation. Rob, his brother Jason, Jason's girlfriend, Robs best friend (And the camera operator)Hud and a fellow part guest named Marlena all try and escape the destruction caused by the monster. As they are fleeing Rob gets a call from his 'girlfriend' Beth, who is injured but still alive. He decides to go and save her. Not too much else can be said about the plot, as to do so would be to spoil it. However the characters are fleshed out pretty well, mostly during the short party sequence. Robs relationship with Beth, his friendship withHud and his relationship with his brother and his girlfriend is all presented well, however it never feels forced.
Comparing this against any other monster movie is difficult. The film is supposed to be the recordings made by Hud of the event, and the audience is treated as such. There is no explanation for what the monster is or where it came from (Again theARG does give more clues). It is a refreshing change in presentation, particularly because, like the Blair Witch Project, the movie never breaks from its reality. It never switches to a third person view to show them running away from the monster, the movie does give some good shots of the monster, however it is presented naturally through the story, first through a glimpse between buildings, then more is seen whenHud video tapes a news report.
The movie however is not perfect. I think the biggest problem it has, is an almost unavoidable one. The line it walks between showing a realistic response to the terror, and the balance between being an engaging movie is difficult to maintain. Some parts come off as a little too convenient, or a little too cliche, these are kept to a minimum however, and for the most part it treats its material with a respect that it has never really gotten before. There are some slasher films, or action movies (In particular war movies) that try and convey it as realistic as possible, however never before has the monster genre had such an authentic experience. You are with them running through subway tunnels, ducking down in streets as the monster rampages over head, and most importantly you close enough to them to care when things go wrong. The acting is as expected, there isn't a huge range of acting needed to run around scared, however each of the characters is individual, you would not confuse them, nor are they ever lost in the crowd when compared to characters from other monster movies. There really isn't the melt down, can't go on scene. There is one scene like it, however it is kept in perspective.
I think the thing I like most about this movie is how much it has captivated my attention. Not only did I completely give myself over to the experience while in the movie, reading and discussing the back story and possible events around it, is just as exciting. Learning about theARG , possible theories as to what the monster is, where it came from all add to the movie, maybe not to the film itself, but to the movie as a cultural vehicle.
If you have seen the movie and would like to learn more about the ARG and the Cloverfield mythos, you should try this site (Which gives a run down of most of the stuff), or this one (For EVERYTHING Cloverfield).