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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

what is ‘Cloverfield’?

What is Cloverfield?! What is Cloverfield?! What is Cloverfield?!

Nobody knows! But everyone’s talking about it! Let’s see what kind of spike in traffic I can get by saying Cloverfield, Cloverfield, Cloverfield over and over again!

Maybe it’s like Beetlejuice: if we all say the name again and again, it’ll appear like magic, and we won’t have to wait till 1-18-08.
Seriously, what is Cloverfield? Seriously, no one really knows for sure. Yes, everyone thinks they “know” that “Cloverfield” is the code name for the J.J. Abrams-produced project that has that way-cool and very enigmatic trailer attached to Transformers. They don’t show trailers at press screenings, so the first I heard about this was from a commenter on my review of that movie, who was all, “OMG! WTF! Awesome!” (I’m paraphrasing somewhat.) And since 12 gazillion people saw the big robot movie over the last few days, word about the trailer spread quickly.

Now, unlike the way the studios usually deal with trailers — ie, saturating the Web with them — Paramount is being totally circumspect. There’s no official trailer online, and if you browse YouTube, you’ll find a ton of bootlegged versions, videos of terrible quality shot in multiplexes, apparently with cell phone cams. Most of these, you’ll further find, will have been deleted, with a solemn-looking warning in red type reading “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Paramount Pictures Corporation.” But even the bootlegs of appalling quality will give you a good idea of what’s going on: disaster in New York City, captured on the videocams of regular folk. No title for the film is offered — all we are told is that it’s from producer J.J. Abrams (he of Lost and Alias fame), and something that looks like a release date: 1-18-08.

Everything beyond those facts are pure speculation, but here’s the “scoop” as the fanboy network has determined: “Cloverfield” is a giant monster movie. Could be a new Godzilla. Could be it’s really called The Parasite. It will be shot entirely on handheld consumer videocams for that “reality” vibe. Drew Goddard, veteran of Alias and Lost, is writing the script, and Matt Reeves — a writer on Felicity and a TV director with one feature to his credit, the 1996 David Schwimmer “vehicle” The Pallbearer — has just been tapped to direct. No one has been cast yet, and shooting has not yet begun. The film will be released on January 18, 2008. (All this via Ain’t It Cool News, Cinematical, Rope of Silicon, IMDB, Ace Showbiz, Cinema Blend, and others.)

I smell a rat. And not just because it seems highly unlikely that a major studio film could go from “hey, we just hired the director!” to release in six months.

But everyone else is playing right along with J.J. Abrams and his pop-culture psy-ops. (Remember, this is the guy who came up with Alias, and all its many demented twists.) There’s a lot of conjecture about what “Cloverfield” could be. Maybe it’s a Lost movie! (Because the “monster” sound in the trailer is similar to the smoke creature on Oceanic 815’s island.) No, no! The “date” in the trailer isn’t a date at all, but a Biblical reference: the Book of Revelations 1:18 says, “I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” And Rev. 18:8 reads, “Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judged her.” (Because there are no other lines in the Revelations that sound like the logline for a horror flick.) And there’s the inevitable slew of comments along the lines of “Oh, no, folks, I work at Universal, and I know it’s not X, Y, or Z.” Ah, the spectacle of the fanboy posturing…

But try to dig up anything real, any source for any of this, and you get nothing. Not a damn thing. Where people are even getting the name “Cloverfield” from is an enormous mystery. It’s all just one big circle jerk of fannishness.

That’s why I smell a rat. J.J. Abrams is yanking our collective chain, trying to see how far we’ll take the slightest snippet of geeky coolness, what kind of nonsense we’ll spin in our excitement. Obviously, the trailer is “real,” in that it is a minute and a half of film actually playing in theaters before Transformers, but beyond that? I bet there ain’t a movie at all — cripes, who would hire the guy who directed The Pallbearer?

But it’s not stopping at a trailer. Now there’s “viral marketing” — some sort of game, Ethan Haas Was Right, and a blog, The Truth of Ethan Haas, refuting the game, supposedly. Though why anyone connects these sites to “Cloverfield” is another big mystery. (I learned of these via a blog called The Common Review, which is suspiciously fakey: it didn’t exist before the beginning of June, and it reeks of the calculated blandness of corporate stuff masquerading as jes’-folks.)

I’m tellin’ ya, it’s all a put on. J.J. Abrams is experimenting on us. And you’re all playing right into his evil game. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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  • Suspiciously fakey? Sorry you feel that way about it.

    I’m still trying to get a rhythm going since I’m pretty new to the whole blogging experience.

    Sure I report a lot of news that I hear about, mostly stuff that interests me and that I think might interest other people, but I don’t I try to put my own spin on it, my on view. All the while trying to come up with new things, topics, etc. that I can make and have be my own.

    Unfortunately, it’s a slow process for me. I mean you may have had it all figured out from the get go when you started out, but it’s just not like that for me. I also don’t know that I’d consider it “masquerading as jes’-folks”, because I really am just some random guy who really loves film.

    Anyway, I didn’t really come here to start a fight or even really try to defend myself against anything, I just thought I’d add a little introspective from my position.

    Very nice site, by the way.

    Lorenzo
    The Common Review

  • That should say “But I DO try to put my own spin.” Late night typing.

  • Doa766

    maybe it’s a LOST movie

  • Nona

    In fairness, Drew Goddard also wrote some outstanding episodes of Buffy and Angel. So don’t hold “The Pallbearer” against him *too* much.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m not holding *The Pallbearer* against Drew Goddard: he had nothing to do with that movie, as far as I can see. I’m holding *The Pallbearer* against Matt Reeves, who directed that movie.

  • Doa766

    there’s a moment on the return of the king when gandalf, after blinding the nazgul with a bright light turns around on his horse and you can see minas tirith appearing from the left of the screen, the whole scene is filmed with the camera shaking as if it were over the horse too

    that was the first time I ever saw CGI used with not classic camera movement and angle, but like the camera was held by someone who was really there filming with a camcorder

    the first time that I saw it, I thought right away that it would be great to have a sci-fi/fantasy film shot entirely like that, it would make the effects much more real

    by the look of that trailer it took 5 years for someone to make it

  • MaryAnn

    I knew it was only a matter of time before someone made a movie that aped the cell phone video we saw from the 7/7 bombings in London. And here it is.

  • jimmy

    well the movie is due in exactly a week from now looks like you guessed wrong and personally i like the whole mystery behind it i dont want to know what its about till i see it.

  • MaryAnn

    What was I wrong about? About the whole thing being a joke? That was sarcasm.

  • archie

    is it a video game movie, rampage?

  • archie

    Slusho is from the video game, plus in the trailer that chicks shadow with the two guys holding her morphs.I guess Rampage.

  • ethan

    well it was ok, but the monster could of looked scarier, it was an insect creature, and it dropped insect spider like creatures

  • MaryAnn

    It’s not an insect.

  • ken

    DON”T WASTE YOUR TIME SEEING THIS CRAP.

    EVERYONE IN THE THEATER WANTED THIER MONEY BACK.

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