January 18, 2008 Cloverfield
Studio: Paramount Pictures Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images.
Something attacks America's largest city and a young group of partygoers gets caught in the destruction.
Following months of cryptic trailers and mysterious websites, "Cloverfield" finally hits theaters.
The movie is told through the use home video. Recovered in the aftermath of a monstrous attack on New York city, we see the events as they unfold. The story begins with a going away party for Rob (Michael Stahl-David,) who is taking a job in Japan.
But as the festivities unfold something terrible happens.
Soon after the initial attack Rob gets a call from Beth (Odette Yustman). She's his friend and onetime lover who left the party after quarreling with him.
Bleeding and alone Beth begs for help. Instead of evacuating Rob sets off toward the danger to save her. He's joined by his future sister in law (Jessica Lucas,) best friend and cameraman Hud (T.J. Miller) and an acquaintance from the party named Marlena (Lizzy Caplan.)
What makes "Cloverfield" different from other monster movies is its focus. We never hear from military leaders about their plan to battle the threat. We don't meet a hero who has an idea to save the day. Instead we travel with ordinary people faced with an extraordinary situation.
Using a handheld camera to tell the story enhances how real it feels. We first meet these people during an normal evening but we stay with them as their world comes crashing down.
The special effects showing the monster's rampage through the city are amazing. Initially we get only glimpses of the beast until we eventually see the creature in all its glory. No attempt is made to explain what it is or where it comes from.
It's just a threat that must be avoided and dealt with.
This is a movie with a grand theme told on a very personal level.
No one is safe as the story unfolds. People live and die seemingly on a whim. And that's exactly how it would happen if an attack like this took place.
There are some unsettling images of New York that reminded me of 9-11. That may be why they carry so much power. And the jerky camera movements could induce a little queasiness. If you're prone to motion sickness make sure you don't sit too close to the screen.
On my rating scale, "Cloverfield" hits a Home Run.
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