Writing a review about Cloverfield, the much anticipated J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost) project is an impossible task. The only way you could possibly read a review about it is AFTER you’ve seen it. Every discription of the film’s plot would give away too much. Sticking to what is shown in the (teaser) trailers brings the conclusion it is about a group of partying youngsters who get attacked by something big and devastating. And among them the rest of Manhattan. Now hold your horses, because you can proceed, because this is all I will reveal about the story. So hardly any relevant spoilers ahead.
Much more interesting than the inferior plot is the way Abrams’ project came about. The first trailer appeared out of nowhere prior to the public screenings of Beowulf. It showed homecam footage of the partying lot and their first acquaintance with the big thing that was ambushing them. Then the screen went black and it only showed the release date. No title or director. Smart geeks found the website linked to the trailer and little by little Cloverfield was unleashed. Even its title was just temporary, but they eventually sticked to it.
Of course, the concept wasn’t all that original. The first obvious film that comes in mind is The Blair Witch Project. Cloverfield bears great similarities with it, even though its budget was 500 times that of Blair Witch (this still being rather modest). Another humongous difference is that in its promotional campaign Blair Witch revealed much more than Cloverfield. TV director Matt Reeves debuts with his first motion picture, but nobody seems to be able to remember his name; everyone just refers to it as the J. J. Abrams project.
For a first time director, Cloverfield must have been a hell of a job and Reeves deserves all kudos for his well-coordinated supervision. Because of he fact Cloverfield starts with an enormous amount of chit-chat, once the terror bursts in, it is extremely effective. The special effects are amazing, especially considering the slim budget. A sporadic flaw and just a huge mistake was the use of end credits and the bombastic score that accompanies it. I know it’s all rules and regulation but it takes the zest out of something that lasted 90 minutes and that was presented as a home movie. And this is all I will give away about Cloverfield. It was extremely good fun. Go see it and then shush.
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, T. J. Miller, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, Odette Yustman
Release Dates: US: 18 January, UK: 1 February, The Netherlands: 24 January
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