Now I feel I must preface this review with the ever popular SPOILER ALERT, being that this film was cloaked in secrecy and anticipated by many. Of course this is a review…so if you don’t want to know what happens…well I guess you shouldn’t be reading reviews really. Those who like spoilers can click here to get a good shot of what the monster actually looks like. Ok fine here.
Cloverfield is a mixed bag. On one hand it’s well acted, suspenseful and engaging while on the other…. Well as the 8 year old boy sitting in front of me said when the credits began to roll; “Is that really the end Dad? That was the dumbest movie ever. It was all blurry and you didn’t see how the monster dies”. Little Timmy* pretty much sums it up in a nut shell. Cloverfield leaves more questions unanswered than the average film by a fair margin and offers a dramatically open ending, which unfortunately sucks any sense of conclusion right out of the theater. Leaving, Timmy left wondering why he just watched 2 hours of Blair Witch/You Tube videos. As for the film style; while the hand-cam, 1st person, point of view really works for the film and adds a lot of interest and drama to every scene it also makes for many unpleasant side effects including nausea, headaches and dizziness. I suffered all three about 10 minutes into the movie and found closing my eyes during some of the running scenes to be the only way I could keep watching. While not for everyone (including me) the camera work is effective and very believable.
As with most panic fueled movies there is a lot of screaming, yelling and mob mentality in Cloverfield. The film does a very good job of limiting the mayhem and irrationality so that it still adds to the drama but doesn’t have you yelling at the characters in irritation as I often find myself doing with other films. The film does an excellent job of letting you see just enough to make up your own mind as to where the monster came from, what it's doing in the city and what happens after the credits roll. However if you don’t go in expecting a ‘build your own adventure’-type film then you will be irritated leaving the theater with the lack of resolute answers offered.
The way the film was marketed with viral postings online and clues-and-answers style treasure hunt left the end result feeling void of any real meaning. There was all kinds of effort taken to prevent leaking information about the monster and the plot of the movie, but at the end of it all I have to ask; ‘why?’. Ok there is a monster, and people panic. Is that all? Seems so. I was expecting a comparison to the 9/11 attacks, and many scenes are shot in a way that mimic said event, but the movie fails to make any statement on that or any other engaging topic. It’s a monster survival film. Period. It’s a Blair Witch version of Godzilla, and makes no attempt to be anything more.
*Timmy may or may not be this boy’s real name, but he looked like a Timmy. I’m talking Spiderman tee-shirt, bowl cut, cleft lip, the whole nine yards. If this kids name isn't Timmy then his parents are idiots.