August 4, 2008 § Leave a comment
Cloverfield has the good sense to be short, given that it’s about fifteen minutes of character set-up, followed by a monster attacking New York. What sets this apart from some other genre films is the shaky-cam, shot by a character approach (making the film into something like “Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla”). There are certainly some impressive effects to be found here, as well as a fast pace and some comic relief that isn’t contrived enough to take you out of the film or seem out of place. They’re also smart to refuse to allow the viewer to do more than glimpse the monster for the first half of the film, and in the most innovative move, flashbacks to a previous day at Coney Island are the result of bits of tape that didn’t happen to be taped over on the day of the attack. This was my favourite element of the film, and I longed for them to be more weirdly significant or prophetic, though it’s perhaps best they weren’t too heavy-handed.
It’s also just barely believable that the characters would keep the camera going during some of the more intense sequences, and that the army might not confiscate it. The thing that hurts believability the most was actually that most of the cast are stunning, though the same time, it’s probably a small miracle they’re unknowns at all. And yes, it does seem a little odd to talk about believability when it’s about a monster attacking New York, but New York has been attacked, and the central premise here is that a small crew of friends managed to film it all. Nitpicking aside, Cloverfield is an entertaining ride. Maybe the inevitable sequel can do something with the unsubtle allusions to 9/11 introduced here.