This is a very late review... Cloverfield was released in theatres on 1/18/08. That's when I saw it and I assure you that had this site been in existence, I would have been very excited to review it. It was released on DVD today and I'm typing this as I'm watching it.
The hype for this movie began in July '07 when the ridiculously cryptic teaser trailer was attached to the release of Transformers. It was a simple concept, it was "home video" footage of a going away party for Rob, who is moving to Japan. After an earthquake shakes up the party, the guests all go to the roof to get a better view of what was going on outside. They see a large explosion and stampede out of the building to avoid being hit by debris, consisting of chunks of building and the head of the Statue of Liberty. There was no title for the movie, only a date (1-18-08) and a producer, J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias). Needless to say, the Internet went crazy.
Every commercial from that point forward lowered my expectations just a little bit more. The acting and special effects looked terrible and the dialogue hokey. My low expectations may have something to do with the fact that I absolutely LOVED this movie. It was received well by the majority of critics, however, so maybe it wasn't just the level of the bar that I had set for it.
I'm actually surprised at how long it took Hollywood to be inspired by the success of The Blair Witch Project (which I also loved). The hand held camera method of telling a story from the perspective of the characters is very effective. It adds a sense of realism that can actually put you in the situation that the characters are in if you let it. The difference between Cloverfield and Blair Witch is scale. This movie is huge and the special effects are huge; yet the story stays so personal because of the way it was filmed and the way it was acted. The cast does a great job making their performances seem candid.
Cloverfield has it's share of haters, though, and some of their points are valid. The shaky camera movements were difficult to watch in theatres (this is not a problem on the small screen, though). The amount of trauma that the characters survive is mind-boggling. If you believe in the power of the human spirit to overcome insurmountable odds in order to survive, then you'd still have to admit that the camera shouldn't have made it through the ordeal. The camera style itself seems to contradict its purpose because the fact that the camera is functional and still has battery life at the end of the movie is pretty unrealistic.
If you let yourself get past the problems with the movie, you will definitely be entertained, though. The acting and special effects were not terrible and the dialogue really wasn't that hokey.
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