J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Sherryl Clark (executive), Guy Riedel (executive) for Bad Robot/Paramount
directed by Matt Reeves
starring Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman, Anjul Nigam, Margot Farley, Theo Rossi, Brian Klugman, Kelvin Yu, Liza Lapira, Lili Mirojnick, Ben Feldman, Elena Caruso, Vakisha Coleman, Will Breenberg, Rob Kerkovich, Ryan Key, Hooman Khalili, Rasika Mathur, Baron Vaughn, Roma Torre, Rick Overton, Martin Cohen, Jason Cerbone, Pavel Lychnikoff, Billy Brown, Scott Lawrence, Jeffrey De Serrano, Tim Griffin, Chris Mulkey, Susse Budde, Jason Lombard, Jamie Martz
written by Drew Goddard, animatronic effects by Creative Character Engineering, creature animation by Tippett Studio, visual effects by Hammerhead Productions, Double Negative
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It all starts rather innocently at a going-away party for Rob (Michael
Stahl-David), where Hud (T.J.Miller) is doing on-cam interviews with
everybody. Then tghe building starts shaking though and before you know
it, the head of the Statue of Liberty is literally landing in front of the
party guests feet. Then something fells the Empire State Building, and by
now everybody at the party knows they have to leave, leave not only the
party but also Manhattan ... but their escape to Brooklyn is cut short by
some giant tentacles wrecking the bridge - and killing Rob's brother Jason
(Mike Vogel) in the process. Rob is now understandably heartbroken, even
more so because he sent his girlfriend Beth (Odette Yustman) home from the
party, and he knows she now needs saving. So to make up for the death of
his brother, he heads through half the town to save her life, and he takes
his sister-in-law Lili (Jessica Lucas), Hud - who's still filming - and
Marlena (Lizzy Caplan), the girl Hud is secretly in love with, with him.
course, this chase through half Manhattan is marred by danger, especially
since the creature who is attacking the city - something vaguely
reminiscent of a giant dinosaur (we never learn what it really is) - is
also losing a gazillion of small creatures onto the city, small creatures
that even follow our heroes through the subway tunnle they are trying to
avoid the big thing in - and this small creatures eventually injure and
kill Marlena. The rest of the group make it to Beth's appartment after a
run-in with the army, and manage to save gravely injured Beth from her
place - in a high rise building literally leaning against the neighbouring
skyscraper - and rendez-vous with some army helicopters to evacuate them.
Lili is taken away savely (presumably), but the helicopter with the other
three is picked out of the air by the creature. Rob, Beth and Hud all
survive, but soon enough, Hud, who is still filming, is simply swallowed
and shat out by the creature, which leaves him rather dead. The other two
have just enough time to say good-bye to the world on cam before they two
die at the creatures claws ...
You might describe this film as Godzilla
meets Blair Witch Project,
inasmuch as it's a monster movie, but entirely told out of the
first-person perspective of one guy's camera - not the most original
gimmick anymore in the late 2000's, but still not too annoying yet. The
POV-camera approach to the giant monster movie genre is of course both a
blessing and a curse: A blessing because the CGI-effects used in Cloverfield
(just like in so many other monster movies) are not always up to the
film's demands, but thanks to a shaky camera and camera pans motivated by
the protagonist rather than the action, much of this can be obscured
without becoming an embarrassing ploy to obscure the film's shortcomings.
The whole thing is also a curse though because this way, more emphasis has
to be put on the film's lead characters ... and they are pretty bland, and
most of the time seem to be just like walking clichés - when they are
even given traits of their own that is.
Still, the film's relatively
short running time (roughly 70 minutes without the credits) and its total
lack of melodramatic music coupled with some nice ideas (the scene where
Lady Liberty's head is just hurled in front of our heroes' feet is simply
great) make this one totally watchable after all. Most certainly not the
cult film many want to make you believe it is, but watchable still.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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