Cloverfield is a 2008 disaster film produced by J. J. Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves. It stars young Hollywood stars Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, T. J. Miller, Odette Yustman, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, and Ben Feldman. The movie is distributed by Paramount Pictures.
Plot. The film begins with a disclaimer that the footage is from a case called “Cloverfield” and was found in the area “formerly known as Central Park.” Hence, what the audience will see is a video segment from a personal camera recovered by the United States Department of Defense. The video consists of the events taped on the night of May 22 and the morning of May 23. Occasionally, flashes from the older video dated April 27 is seen as those new segments are actually taped over the older one.
On the night of May 22, Rob’s brother Jason and his girlfriend Lily prepare a farewell party for Rob who will be moving to Japan. A friend named Hud uses the camera to film testimonials for Rob. There in the party, the main casts for the movie are introduced. After an argument, Rob’s girlfriend Beth leaves the party. Then suddenly, an apparent earthquake strikes and New York City suffers a brief power outage.
A devastating explosion ensues and the party-goers immediately evacuate the building. The head of the Statue of Liberty crashes in a nearby street. Amidst the dusts, Hud records what appears to be a giant hand of a creature several blocks away. Jason, Rob, Lily, Hud and Marlena attempt to escape the city on the Brooklyn Bridge. A huge tail then destroys the center of the bridge and many people are killed, including Jason. The rest are forced to flee back to Manhattan.
Rob finds out from a call that Beth is trapped in her apartment and unable to move. The four then sets out to rescue Beth. Along the way, they encounter several small spider-like creatures in a subway. Marlena is wounded and consequently dies as her body inflates and explodes. The three soon find Beth’s apartment and then free her from the rubbles that trap her. The four make their way to Grand Central Station where they meet the gigantic monster again. There are military forces around and Lily is raced into a departing helicopter. Rob, Beth and Hud then embark another helicopter and while in air, they witness U.S. Air Force bomb the monster. Suddenly, the monster attacks their helicopter and crashes into a grassy clearing in Central Park.
The three survives the crash and the film restarts in the morning of May 23. From the helicopter’s radio, it is announced that Hammerdown protocol will begin in 15 minutes and that anyone who hears the siren is within the blast zone. The three hurry up, but when Hud returns to recover the camera, he encounters the monster again and attacks and kills him. Rob and Beth grab the still-recording camera and take shelter under Greyshot Arch in Central Park as air raid sirens begin to blare and bombers to blast. Rob and Beth take turns in recording their last testimonials of that day as the bridge crumbles and debris covers the camera.
Review. Cloverfield is a very suspenseful disaster film. Unlike others, the film gives more personal feeling to the audience. It is like picking up a camcorder along the street and viewing somebody else’s footage on it. It is very crude, and though we do not know the persons inside the film, we feel their terror and helplessness. We breathe with them, flee with them, and even seem to “die” with them. With this accept, Cloverfield has achieved believability, originality, and creativity.
The movie also succeeds in its desire to create another memorable monster in the movies. Cloverfield monster is not like King Kong or Godzilla which many love. It is the exact opposite; we dread and fear this gigantic monster and wish to end its menace and evil.
Reception. Cloverfield is both commercial and critical success. It was the first film in 2008 to gross over $100 million. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% of its critics gave a positive review. In Metacritic, the film received a rating of 64 out of 100.
Rating. Overall, I find the movie to be very fresh and exciting. Though it lacks good moral lessons to teach, it succeeds in gaining deep emotional attachment to viewers as suspense and drama are built wonderfully throughout the film. For this, I will give the move four stars out of five.
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