Saturday, January 19, 2008
It was a good day.
Where do I begin? Where do I end? It's impossible to critique an experience because this isn't a film. Cloverfield is much more, something big, something special. The premise is simple, a tape found which contains the last day of Manhattan. A monster moving around the streets destroying everything in it's path. The film gathered much hype from the marketing smarts of J.J Abrams, was there any possible way of it at least reaching the point of it's such great hype? It surpassed it on every level.
Cloverfield is a fresh look at a genre film that I've loved ever since I was a child. I expect a lot out of a monster movie, I want something more then just a monster, I want a film. Cloverfield has taken itself out of a film and made it completely real. The characters seem like people you've known all your life even though we are only treated to a glimpse of their lives. A glimpse that is filled with running, carnage, parasites and falling buildings. In previous monster movies we get the military men and the scientist but with Cloverfield we get the people running away from the monster, The Japanese people screaming out "Gojira" at the top of their lungs. We get the real people. It amazes me that we get to know these people so well when all they are going is just running away from a creature and then once stopping to call a loved one.
The cinematography which is absolutely amazing and not just a "shaky hand held cam" look, these shots are planned perfectly but yet they seem very natural. It lends itself to the film, to the collapsing of a city, to the chaos which is happening within the characters not knowing what is going on. This is real. While the camera lends itself towards the experience, the other half is the incredible sound design. People say that the film doesn't have any music but that's false. It does, it's the buildings crumbling towards the ground as they slowly grind downward against another building which makes it sound like a screeching string ensemble. The monsters deep thumping as it gets ever so near towards us is the deep sounding bass as the notes begin to get lower, lower and lower. Then the creature roars, this is when the brass section would let the audience know it's in danger. It's absolutely terrific and jaw dropping.
All of these pieces of filmmaking are very normal but director Matt Reeves and his crew orchestrate it to create something new, something big. Cloverfield clocks in around 80 minutes and yet it feels as epic as it's creature. The film is one huge memorable experience made up of terrifying tense, hilarious and emotional scenes. The characters are all solidly played, our main character Rob played by Michael Stahl-David is surprisingly very effective and i can actually see him moving onto great things. The woman in this film are strong female leads but not action stars, they tear up like anyone else but when push comes to shove, they don't back down. As for our camera man Hud played by T.J Miller, all i can say is that he is possibly one of the best comedic characters in recent memory.
I tend to critique monster movies very harshly because these are the kind of films that i grew up with. The original Godzilla film is possibly my favorite film of all time and everything that has come after just doesn't matched it except for my immense love for Joon-Ho Bong's "The Host". As for Cloverfield, we have an experience. We are witnessing something big. This ranks up and goes toe to toe, head to head and tooth to tooth with Godzilla. Cloverfield is pure.
As for the monster, it's fucken sick!