Thursday Night Movie Club
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Release Date: 18 January 2008

Director: Matt Reeves
Lizzy Caplan
Jessica Lucas
T.J. Miller
Michael Stahl-David
Mike Vogel
Odette Annable
Anjul Nigam
Margot Farley
Theo Rossi
Brian Klugman
Kelvin Yu
Liza Lapira
Lili Mirojnick
Ben Feldman
Elena Caruso
Marlena Diamond
Lily Ford
Hudson 'Hud' Platt
Rob Hawkins
Jason Hawkins
Beth McIntyre
Bodega Cashier
Party Goer
Cloverfield movie poster 1 Cloverfield movie poster 2 Cloverfield movie poster 3
Michael Stahl-David, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas try to find out what is happening in CloverfieldCloverfield from producer J.J. Abrams production company is an interesting, sometimes frightening and some truly amazing special effects. The film had a major marketing blitz that said nothing about the movie except for a shot of the Statue of Liberty missing her famous crowned head. Is this a disaster film about WWIII? Did terrorists find a way to completely wipeout New York City? Have home-grown militias finaly gotten tired of governmental interference? Something has found us. What is that "something"?

Cloverfield begins with a going-away party for Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David). Little do the guests realize that they are all about to enter the Twilight Zone. In a way, they are all "going away". They just aren't going where they want to go and they certainly don't "go" in a manner they like.

CloverfieldThe party is interrupted by a large boom. The startled guests run to the rooftop to see what is going on. Parts of New York City are in flames. People are screaming. The source of the catastrophe remain a mystery. No one can determine if whatever is happening is heading in their direction. The guests head down to the street where panic ensues. A large projectile is suddenly heading directly for them. The projectile smashes to the street with a metallic clang. The projectile is the head of The Statue of Liberty. New York is under attack! But from whom?

Michael Stahl-David and Odette Annable leave a video message
in CloverfieldSimilar to other great horror or sci-fi films, Cloverfield generates its best shocks, surprises and suspense by not answering questions. Helping ramp up all of these elements is that Cloverfield is shot entirely from a hand-held video camera manned by Hudson "Hud" Platt (T.J. Miller). With all of the chaos going on around him, Hud keeps on filming. Slowly, the small band of friends begins to realize New York is under attack from a "Godzilla-like" creature from the depths of the ocean. The authorities are scrambling to set up military defenses and take the battle to the creature while also desperately trying to keep the peace, rescue the frightened citizens, and setup medical triage facilities. They certainly have their hands full.

The bulk of Cloverfield involves Rob's attempts to rescue his best friend and love interest Beth (Odette Annable) who is trapped in the Time Warner building. Beth is badly injured and needs help. The authorities do not have the man-power to rescue one person. Rob and four of his friends defy orders to stay put and mount a rescue effort.

Jessica Lucas, Michael Stahl-David and Odette Annable in CloverfieldDanger awaits every step they take. An unknown monster is running amok. Bullets from Army and National Guard troops are flying in every direction. Buildings are crumbling around them. Not even the sub-way provides a safe refuge.

The acting in Cloverfield is amatuerish at best. However, this is also Cloverfield's best asset. The actors do not act like they are playing a role. They act like "normal" people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. They are friends. Their relationships are complicated. They argue. They pull together to enact a most daring rescue. They experience extreme hardships and loss. Very good stuff for this type of film.

Army troops assault the creature in CloverfieldThe most amazing aspects of Cloverfield are the complex camera positions and movements, the actors remembering their lines amidst the chaos, the staging of the foreground elements against the background action and the special effects with the creature. Most of the time, the creature is only a background element to the action happening around the five main characters. Hud pans his camera to get a glimpse of the creature and then back to ground level as he flees to safety. The top-floor rescue of Beth is spectacular. The building is falling down around the rescuers while the creature continues its rampage in the background. The five friends climb out of the subway to find a full-fledged battle going on at street level. All of the staging elements are amazing.

Cloverfield is a very good horror, action, suspense film. Nothing happening in this film is predictable. There is no foreshadowing of coming events. Surprises lurk around every corner and hide in the shadows. Sounds become frightening elements. A simple sound of a glass bottle being kicked becomes sinister and scary. There is enough going on in Cloverfield to make anyone jump out of his or her seat... often. Be warned, some viewers susceptible to drastic camera movements may feel a twinge of vertigo.

After the hand-held technique used in "The Blair Witch Project", may films have jumped on the bandwagon and tried to capture the similar effect and success. Cloverfield uses this technigue for maximum effect. Enjoy!