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Overall Rating

Awesome: 32.82%
Worth A Look35.88%
Just Average: 9.16%
Pretty Crappy: 7.63%
Sucks: 14.5%

9 reviews, 77 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"A decent addition to the giant-monster gallery."
4 stars

The conceit of "Cloverfield," like "The Blair Witch Project" before it, is that we're watching video footage of unexplained, horrific events. While "Blair Witch" was all suggestion and no pay-off, though, "Cloverfield" delivers the goods.

It's a giant-monster movie told from street level, from the viewpoint of regular people fleeing from the beast. The cycle of revelation and retreat can be electrifying, and it's fun to see this new angle on an old story. A goofball named Hud (T.J. Miller) captures the whole thing on a shaky borrowed digital camera, and when the monster shows itself in its full awful splendor near the end, Hud is mesmerized beyond terror; he stands there filming like a dummy, or like a human being in shock, as the thing gets ready for its closeup.

Bellowing like an enraged foghorn, the monster crawls up from the depths off of Coney Island and slithers through Manhattan with an eerie, dislocated-elbow motion. In the monster-attack scenes, the movie's style -- the apocalypse barely glimpsed -- is chilling: We're seeing essentially what we would see if we were there. A faux cinema verite film like this, however, can get locked into repetition; in a conventional narrative, scenes build and are shaped dramatically, and the standard big-monster movies from Gojira to the more recent The Host can forge suspense out of editing, composition and dialogue in a way that a movie like Cloverfield can't. Yet Cloverfield, God save us all, attempts to have a plot -- a conventional narrative plot wedded to a style that can't support it.

The footage starts out at a going-away party for Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David), who's leaving soon for a nice job in Japan. (We send them a yuppie, they send us a Toho beastie?) The party stops when the monster arrives, and Rob spends much of the movie trying to get to Midtown to rescue Beth (Odette Yustman), his lost love. Hud tags along, since there'd be no movie if he didn't, as well as Rob's brother's girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas) and outsider Marlena (Lizzy Caplan, whose shell-shocked deadpan steals the film). This results in more than a few flat, stagey scenes that feel especially inconsequential because there's a monster knocking large holes out of New York and who cares if Rob finds Beth?

There've been a few grumbles that Cloverfield deals in 9/11 imagery. Such critics seem to forget Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, with its dust-covered survivors and its street poles littered with "missing" posters. As I said in my review of that film, 9/11 changed the way we imagine large-scale disaster; we've seen what real city devastation looks like, and we can't go back to tidier, more innocent visuals. The filmmakers, including producer J.J. Abrams (Lost) and director Matt Reeves, have dutifully talked up Cloverfield as a cathartic horror experience, much as Gojira was for post-Hiroshima Japan. The movie also tips its hat to its predecessors, including Alien and Starship Troopers. Essentially, it's a noble experiment whose writer (Drew Goddard) couldn't resist a little boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-saves-girl-from-gigantic-critter Hollywood gloss.

Still, I can't deny feeling several massive surges of adrenaline whenever the monster stomped on tanks (oh yes, the military does get involved, much to its regret) or knocked over buildings or took out the Brooklyn Bridge. 9/11 notwithstanding, fictional catastrophe is still a thrill, which is somewhat reassuring. I do have misgivings about the way the story plays out, but no monster movie is without some boring-part, you-can-hit-the-bathroom-now cheesiness, and I guess the flat sections work as time-outs from the chaos. For the most part, Cloverfield earns its spot on your shelf next to all the Harryhausens and Tohos.

Oh, and if you really need to know where the monster came from, do a Google search for "Tagruato."

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16837&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/19/08 23:26:30
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell a good creature feature 4 stars
2/08/17 Louise As soon as that stupid monster showed up, I knew it was a turkey. 1 stars
9/24/13 David Hollingsworth One of the more awesome/scary found footage films since 'Blair Witch". 5 stars
4/14/13 Durwood Cheezy Grade Z ripoff of Blair Witch and War of the Worlds--DON 1 stars
3/15/10 mr.mike If you can deal with shaky cam , it's good. Damn good. 4 stars
9/19/09 Eggy Swingleforte Oh dear! Get out the vomit bags... [plural] Sheer shite from the highest height. 1 stars
8/18/09 Jeff Wilder Great style. Not one iota of substance. 3 stars
6/03/09 carmen torres i really thought it was a piece of junk i got dizzy with the camara moving all the time 1 stars
3/24/09 Eric Pretty good, though I was bummed when delicious Mike Vogel bites it 20 minutes in. 4 stars
1/08/09 Anonymous. such a cool movie, the ending sort of surprised me... 4 stars
12/18/08 Craig D. Best American monster movie since Jaws. 5 stars
11/08/08 daveyt It's ok, I liked the new take on monster, but Blair Witch was much better, yup I liked BW! 3 stars
10/07/08 Matt Hard to empathise with the characters when the picture jumps all over the place. 3 stars
9/18/08 Max A potent and visceral masterpiece 5 stars
9/11/08 Luke Good idea, terribly executed with little effort in the detail 1 stars
8/11/08 Jon G A unrealistic plot that felt disturbingly real 5 stars
7/27/08 Samantha Pruitt delivered, thought it was a lot of fun, great audience participation! 4 stars
7/11/08 AnnieG Not all that scary and it made my family motion-sick. 3 stars
6/26/08 Doug SHort and sweet 4 stars
6/23/08 Andrew Elkhoury Liked the fact that it was taped by a handy cam and still had great fx. 5 stars
6/16/08 Blop Hell I enjoyed this immensly, despite or because of low expectations 4 stars
6/15/08 CD This was entertaining at times but the camera was annoying and Hud more so. 2 stars
6/14/08 Sam Difficult to watch with the camera moving .. brainless.. 1 stars
6/05/08 Jessay I hated the characters, epic fail 1 stars
5/25/08 David Pollastrini Great FX! 5 stars
5/13/08 Joe Awsome movie, But the ending was very unsatisfactory. 4 stars
5/08/08 Misti K Good and scary... loved it! 4 stars
4/27/08 Jayme Isaacs An Excellent Movie 5 stars
4/23/08 action movie fan scares and thrils galore in the exviting godzilla meets blair witch sci fi adventure 4 stars
4/22/08 Jodi I thought this film was ok, but I wanted to throw up most of the movie from shaky camera 3 stars
4/04/08 Jessica Bielzebub Makes THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT look like a best cinematography winner. 2 stars
3/27/08 Piz A great jump since Blair Witch, and awesome for such a low budget. Was bummed when it ended 4 stars
3/24/08 wnm Cool idea, poorly executed. Subplot stuff came off extremely boting, footage unrealistic 3 stars
3/06/08 wertyboy movie masterpiece, suspense horrow violence and even some humour in their, its a MUST see 5 stars
2/16/08 Zoolook the Awesome Mudkip Meh...nothing spectacular, and the monster looked like a giant Swampert. google and compare 2 stars
2/12/08 elisa perkins The shaky camera work was what made this movie crazy scary. 5 stars
2/04/08 M .Alan Aviseral Masterpeice 5 stars
2/04/08 Paul Shortt Besides disinterest, the only emotion it incites is the emotion of wanting to throw up 1 stars
2/04/08 MP Bartley Nothing new as such, but it uses its concept brilliantly. 4 stars
2/03/08 Advantus Good film. Leaves you wanting more. Where is the prequel? 4 stars
2/02/08 Nick really loved it, the best godzilla-monster movie ever! 5 stars
2/01/08 Alex Thorne This film was everything i wanted it to be. finally, something worth all the hype! 5 stars
2/01/08 Quigley An amazingly effective sci-fi adventure. Stays with you for days afterwards 5 stars
1/30/08 john wonderful ... fine ... a blast ... yippeee ... clever 5 stars
1/29/08 Ming I hate the shaky camera...a bad movie..Why you people like this garbage..... 2 stars
1/29/08 gcc Very innovative filmmaking, felt very real & scary unlike typical CGI monster flicks 4 stars
1/27/08 Jeff Smith Awesome, completely gripping if you can stomach the hand-held camera 5 stars
1/26/08 Bill Kept me entertained. It didn't take itself too seriously either. 4 stars
1/26/08 Tan Worst movie ever. All hype. Save your money and time. 1 stars
1/24/08 Emme Ready for the fun "thrill ride"- got boring, unscarey crap 1 stars
1/24/08 Ramzi Abed It truly is Godzilla meets Blair Witch (with better cameras!) 5 stars
1/23/08 John GREAT experience, way more then just a movie 5 stars
1/22/08 danielle really bad! camera shaking for hr and 1/2 1 stars
1/22/08 Stacy Loved it. Don't go see if you need a Hollywood ending, though. 5 stars
1/22/08 Riki Not exactly scarey, not exactly realistic, but definitely entertaining! 5 stars
1/22/08 beau This was very scary! it had frightening sequences, action and was believable! well made! 4 stars
1/22/08 William Goss And I presume that spelling is where "Likes to read" fails. 5 stars
1/21/08 Likes to read, unlike the President. Great for identifying people with no taste. Guess where Willaim Goss falls. 1 stars
1/21/08 John Wasn’t invested in the characters and didn’t believe it for one second… 1 stars
1/21/08 Mr Freeze I watched it online. It was a camcorder recording of a camcorder recording. B+ 4 stars
1/21/08 Ole Man Bourbon Great entertainment. Characters were abominable though. 4 stars
1/21/08 Noexit Should have been longer. There was something crashed in the water at Coney Island 4 stars
1/21/08 Ron20003 WORST PIECE OF CRAPOLA EVER 1 stars
1/20/08 chach Very unrealistic and cheezy no plot or direction! Probably the worst movie Ive ever seen 1 stars
1/20/08 Brian Mckay Yes, it's a gimmick, but it's a fun one. Monster 10 times scarier than any Godzilla flick. 4 stars
1/20/08 Captain Highcrime 9/11 with a monster...New Yorkers will LOVE it!! 4 stars
1/20/08 c5 Cliched spectacle distracts from serious stupidity and lack of real story. Pure gimmick. 1 stars
1/19/08 tmcmistress very original monster design; just wish we'd seen more of it. 4 stars
1/19/08 Darkstar Awesome movie, great monster. Best action pic you're gonna get this time of year. 5 stars
1/19/08 Obi Wan One of the better movies to come about, plenty of scares and JJ does it again!! 5 stars
1/19/08 Michael Best horror/suspense movie I've seen in years! 4 stars
1/19/08 chris banuchi Guys. At the end of the movie, I swear I seen something crashland into the water at coney 5 stars
1/19/08 MN Completely overrated. 1 stars
1/18/08 bullit16 Worth the hype! If you can stand the shaky cameras, it's one hell of a thrill ride 5 stars
1/18/08 Roy Romano This movie Sucked more than a blow job festival! It gave me hava a headache. 1 stars
1/18/08 Paul Kraker Worst movie I've ever seen - save your money!!!! 1 stars
1/18/08 Brant Best Scare I've had in a theater in a loooong time! Great Movie!! 5 stars
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  18-Jan-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 22-Apr-2008



Directed by
  Matt Reeves

Written by
  Drew Goddard

  Michael Stahl-David
  Odette Yustman
  Mike Vogel
  Lizzy Kaplan

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