Review of Cloverfield
(This will be reposted at Reviews N Stuff should that site return.)
Cloverfield is what it is and what is is a monster movie told from the perspective of the most annoying, trustafarian New Yorkers you will ever want to see crushed by tons of falling building or eaten by bizarre tentacled monsters from beyond your imagination. It was not nearly as annoying as the trailers make it seem, but it was extremely shaky, so if you get nauseous, bring your dramamine. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and found almost all of it entertaining and startling.
Despite having a fun time and enjoying the movie, I found all of the characters except the camera man and the Zooey-Deschanel lookalike, Lizzy Caplan, to be extremely irritating. Rob was perfectly scruffy groomed and looked like he was maybe 25 and living in a million dollar apartment that was the epitome of trashy-chic. The fact that a man so self-absorbed would run headlong into danger for a woman he had mistreated was harder to believe than a giant monster from across the eighth dimension attacking New York. The only character I felt any connection with was Hud, the cameraman. He seemed like a basically nice guy that had been friends with Rob and Rob's brother since childhood and had been corrupted only slightly with their conceit. His identity was entirely wrapped around Rob and his motivation was well established. Rob's was less well established and it hurt the plot.
Speaking of the plot, I thought the basic human element of the story was weak. Summary without spoilers: Monster attacks city. Chaos ensues. Yuppie seeks to rescue girl he didn't call for weeks after sleeping with her. Rocks fall. People die. This rescue-the-babe plotline was the weakest part of the movie. I think the characters would have been far less annoying if they had just been running for their lives. As it is, it felt a lot like a first-person shooter videogame where you are unable to loot any guns and get blasting. The monster dictated a lot of the heroes' travel routes by savaging New York and the movie would have been better without the silly love motivation.
Other reviewers have said that that they felt that the monster seemed like it was conveniently after the characters. It did pretty much turn up everywhere they went, but it is important to remember that the group was heading toward the monster as it stomped all over midtown Manhatten. There are a few incidents that are just too damned coincidental for me to dismiss. It sorta felt like the monster was coming to New York because it got the e-vite to Rob's going away party and was just horribly clumsy as it attempted to chase Rob down to give him a big hug. And had the worst case of lice you have ever seen.
At this point, you might think I didn't like Cloverfield. I really did enjoy it. The extras were pitch perfect and the shots of the monster were stunning. This is the only movie I have seen that did not irritate me with the stupid shaky-cam. I am not prone to getting sick from this, even though I can get carsick quite easily. The shaky-camis used in a lot of TV shows and movies in which it is totally unnecessary. Cloverfield is the exact opposite. Hud is shooting the events because he thinks that people will want to know what happened and also because he sure doesn't seem to know what to do with himself without it.
The atmosphere of a city under attack from a giant thing is perfect. There were times when it looks a lot like the footage from 9/11 and this may be hard to deal with for some people. The papers blowing down from shredded office buildings and flaming debris everywhere was impressive. Every second of the movie felt genuine, except for the emoting and the obsessive monster attacks on our main characters. I felt submersed in the story, despite the occasional bounce on skeptic meter (the tunnel scene knocked me completely out of my suspended disbelief because it was ripped straight out of The Descent).
I recommend it to all monster movie fans with strong stomachs. If you are the kind of moron who must have everything explained to you in every movie, then you aren't going to enjoy it. If you don't like richer-than-thou yuppies, you will enjoy it.