From producer J. J. Abrams
, creator of TV series such as "Felicity
," and the perplexing hit "Lost
" comes "Cloverfield,
" a super-secretive thrill ride with enough turbulence to leave you in a weeklong daze. Abrams and writer Drew Goddard ("Lost
") have taken the b-grade monster movie genre and given it new life.
The premise is simple yet so completely haunting and wondrous. Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David
) is a young professional living in Manhattan. His brother Jason (Mike Vogel
) and friends throw a surprise party for Rob as he prepares to take a new job in Japan. As you are probably aware, the film is shot through the perspective of a hand-held camera - Rob's actually, that is being used to film send-offs and goodbyes at Rob's party.
The cameraman is Rob's best friend Hud (T.J. Miller
), the comedian of the group who may or may not have a crush on fellow partygoer Marlena (Lizzy Caplan
of "Mean Girls
"). It's during this part of the film that we learn of Rob's relationship with Beth (Odette Yustman) - which has grown incredibly complicated in the past days before the party.
What separates "Cloverfield
" from other ‘monster movies' is the fact that we truly feel for the characters. We grow to know them, learn how they'll react to situations - and we worry for them. We truly worry about their survival. While partying at Rob's fancy apartment, a tremor rumbles through the building causing power outages and a small dose of panic.
What was thought to be an earthquake is followed with news reports of a tanker capsizing in the harbor. Nobody is for sure if the two events are linked - that is, until there is a huge explosion in midtown that sends our characters running for their lives.
"Is it another terrorist attack?" one of them asks. Smoke floods the streets of New York as debris falls down around bystanders. Our characters run out into the street only to witness the horrific site of the Statue of Liberty's head being bowled down an intersection, coming to a screeching halt at their feet.
Mass hysteria erupts and suddenly we see glimpses of the perpetrator. A large creature, its origins unknown, has attacked the city. Suddenly things take a very dark and somber tone as Rob and his friends attempt to escape the city.
"I saw it! It's alive! It's huge!"
One key moment comes into focus when a squad of military troops has separated Hud, the loveable cameraman, from the rest of the group. Tanks barrel down the streets of Manhattan and Hud is caught in the crossfire. Bullets and missiles are whizzing through the air as the frightening roar of the creature reverberates off skyscrapers.
Rob gets a call from Beth, the person he loves most in this world. She was at her apartment building when it hit, and it seems like she's hurt and can't get out. This of course sends Rob into full hero mode as he attempts to make his way across the city to save her.
This relationship doesn't feel false or forced. Truthfully, "Cloverfield
" is a movie about the human experience - the fact that a giant monster is attacking is just a horrible coincidence. We understand his need to find Beth, and the story is validated in why the group has avoided the mass evacuations happening around them.
While the idea of an enormous creature dismantling New York like a city made of Lego blocks may seem absurd, the filmmakers build upon real-life horrors that fully capture the sentiment of 9/11. With these chaotic images, belief and rationality are suspended completely. Never have I been more completely absorbed by a movie, which many have been quick to call the lovechild of "The Blair Witch Project"
and 1998's atrocious "Godzilla.
reminds me of the haunted house attractions I would go to as a kid. You essentially get strapped into a rickety old metal cart with a fraying seatbelt that has you feeling less than safe and sound. It's pitch black and all you can hear are the horrible moans of whatever is lingering in the dark. Cold mist splashes your face, and suddenly the ride picks up speed. It's now you realize you have no control over your fate - you're riding the rails at breakneck speed, and all you can do is hold on.
Quite frankly, "Cloverfield
" is a triumph for fans of the monster genre. The filmmakers create a claustrophobic sense of entrapment that turns the sprawling cityscape of Manhattan into a deadly maze where there is literally no escape. It isn't just a popcorn flick, it's a comprehensive mind-blowing experience.
And for people worried about the film not living up to the hype generated by viral marketing and clever ad campaigns, think again. You will not be disappointed. "Cloverfield