Cloverfield (review)

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Monster Takes Manhattan

It’s “just” a monster movie, right? Worse, it’s the monster movie that has been drowning in Internet hype — a fan-driven mania prompted by pseudo-secretive viral marketing produced by the filmmakers — for months, so much so that I was tired of hearing about how little we knew about the movie ages ago. There’s no way Cloverfield could possibly be worth the to-do. Could it?
Before I saw the movie, I thought: Impossible. Impossible to imagine that there’s anything new to be done with the monster movie. Impossible to imagine the monster could be scary-cooler than the creature from last year’s Korean new-millennium horror-comedy The Host. And now? Now that I’ve seen Cloverfield? It’s hard to imagine how anyone will top this. It’s magnificent in its harsh reality. It is the monster movie remade for the 21st-century, post-9/11 world.

Of course, one might question whether we need a new kind of monster movie for the post-9/11 world: indeed, there are moments here that induced a kind of 9/11 flashback in me, sights that once we would have considered ridiculous that we now know are all too real. Collapsing buildings blowing out huge gusts of dust. Dazed and dirty people dressed in their best, interrupted at work or play, now wandering in the streets helplessly. Some people said the things we saw, we all saw on TV or in person, on 9/11 looked like a movie. Well, now here’s a movie that looks like 9/11. I don’t exaggerate when I saw that some folks — you know who you are — may want to avoid it because of that.

But there’s something therapeutic in it, too, which sounds weird but works just fine. Maybe because for all the ridiculousness of the sitution — a giant thing is rampaging through Manhattan in a frenzy of killing and wanton destruction — how we see it is kept small and intimate and believable. It’s a way to manage the horror of it, a way to take it in without being overwhelmed by it.

A gang of 20something friends is sending their pal Rob (Michael Stahl-David) off to a job in Japan with a big party; their pal Hud (T.J. Miller) is documenting the party with a camcorder, gathering well-wishes for Rob from the partygoers. And then there’s a bang, and the lights go out… It’s funny, actually: the first 20 minutes or so of the film are given over to the party, and by 10 minutes in, I was grumbling to myself that they should just get to the monster already. By 20 minutes in, I was so caught up in the soap opera of romantic entanglements and whispered gossip keeping the party alive that when disaster finally struck, it was genuinely startling. And the rest of the film hardly seems like a film at all: it feels like a found document, which the meta-story pretends it is. This videotape, “military” placards tell us as the movie opens, was found in the area “formerly known as Central Park,” and is now top-secret. We’re not supposed to be seeing this.

Director Matt Reeves and screenwriter Drew Goddard — members of producer JJ Abrams TV teams from shows like Lost and Alias — have crafted a perfectly executed hoax. Everything — the monster, the destruction of the city, and other horrible, horrible things — are seen through Hud’s camcorder. We never leave the sides of Rob and Hud and a few others of their friends. We like them, these people who are under stress and running for their lives. We recognize them. They’re us. (Who they most emphatically are not is movie stars. This would not have worked with famous faces, no matter how talented. The unknown cast give brutally authentic performances, but it is their everyperson anonymity that makes us believe them.) And we recognize their situation because we’ve seen it on the news and on YouTube and Flickr: the smoke-filled tunnels, the collapsing stairwells. This is, we now know, where disasters happen: in tiny enclosed spaces jammed with frightened people.

We see the monster. We do. But we get mostly only glimpses of it as fear takes over Hud and he turns to run or drops the camera or whatever. He wants to document what he’s seeing — he’s a child of the new millennium, too, who knows people will want to see this. But the damn thing is so big

And what we see of the creature is so frustrating — in a good, keep-you-in-suspense way — and so tantalyzing that the whole film becomes endlessly engaging, if not always in a pleasant way. Cloverfield is horrific, unleavened by snarky asides from an action hero who will save the day, uninterrupted by any distractions whatsoever outside the sheer terror of the moment. By the time it was over, I was sure I had sat there for three hours (the film actually runs, without credits, only 80 minutes), and equally sure that no time at all had passed. It rocked me, left me hungry for more, and not certain if I’d ever be able to sit through it again.

Though I probably will.

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Ide Cyan
Ide Cyan
Thu, Jan 17, 2008 5:38pm

Godzilla meets the Blair Witch Project, then?

WriterGuy
WriterGuy
Thu, Jan 17, 2008 5:53pm

Damn. I’ve got to go see this.

Russ
Russ
Thu, Jan 17, 2008 8:10pm

I hated the film for numerous reasons and would’ve liked seeing a different setting to New York, but it was good to get Mary-Ann’s view. As was the case with Blair Witch, it’ll do much better in North America than overseas, where it’s been under marketed and under promoted by Paramount. You can imagine the send up this mediocre film will get in an inevitable Scary Movie 5.

Drave
Drave
Thu, Jan 17, 2008 8:39pm

Only six hour until I get to see it! *squeak*

misterb
misterb
Thu, Jan 17, 2008 11:58pm

tantalyzing->tantalizing

Sorry about the spelling OCD.

Drave
Drave
Fri, Jan 18, 2008 7:17am

MaryAnn, you NAILED it with this review. One of the most fantastic movies I have seen in years.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jan 18, 2008 8:05am

would’ve liked seeing a different setting to New York

Like where? There are only a few cities where it could have been set, because it requires recognizable landmarks. Plus, very few cities have New York’s canyons, which are pretty essential for creating suspense here: the monster can disappear around a building and be out of sight again.

Sammy
Fri, Jan 18, 2008 2:27pm

Awesome .. I’ve been looking up reviews and info for this film, and it seems to be getting pretty solid ratings. And it’s really interesting that they’re promoting the film with the fallen Statue of Liberty..it definitely sets an undertone of the America being attacked..Maxim actually did a little bit on it.
http://www.maxim.com/Entertainment/MoviesThatMangletheStatueofLiberty/slideshow/673.aspx?src=dx18:mtd

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Fri, Jan 18, 2008 7:21pm

Except there’s no context within the film for “America” being attacked. It’s recognizable New York landmark accidentally damaged by a creature that we know nothing about… except it’s pretty clear from the film that it *is* a creature, not something with a motive beyond its own animal rage.

MBI
MBI
Fri, Jan 18, 2008 10:14pm

Also important to note is that New York has very few ways out of it. If you want to get out of most cities, you can just keep driving in one direction.

Steph
Sat, Jan 19, 2008 12:20pm

I agree with Godzilla meets Blair Witch. ;-) It was a good movie, enjoyable in parts, but for me, not great. I even wrote a “less than excited” verdict about the movie on my blog. I was one of the lucky people who got to sit in the front row, so the shaky camera thing left me queasy reallly fast. Despite not being thrilled about the movie, I’d love to see a sequel that explains what the heck was going on. :-P

Steph
Sat, Jan 19, 2008 12:21pm

I agree with Godzilla meets Blair Witch. ;-) It was a good movie, enjoyable in parts, but for me, not great. I even wrote a “less than excited” verdict about the movie on my blog. I was one of the lucky people who got to sit in the front row, so the shaky camera thing left me queasy reallly fast. Despite not being thrilled about the movie, I’d love to see a sequel that explains what the heck was going on. :-P

(PS – I may have submitted this one too many times due to a computer error. If so, I’m sorry!)

Blueberry
Sat, Jan 19, 2008 2:04pm

I thought it was great too, especially because it dared to have a really different ending than many of the movies that inspired it… that is, if you can really call it an ending. My poor husband should have taken some Dramamine. He was too sick to drive afterward.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sat, Jan 19, 2008 5:21pm

Also important to note is that New York has very few ways out of it. If you want to get out of most cities, you can just keep driving in one direction.

Excellent point!

Laurie D. T. Mann
Sat, Jan 19, 2008 10:06pm

I saw Cloverfield today. It’s a 60-minute long theme park ride. It was fun; good but not great. I did love the limited narrator (everything seen through that one camera).

Russ
Russ
Sun, Jan 20, 2008 3:06am

I’d like to have seen it set in either Las Vegas, with all the interesting visual sights and buildings it has and / or Washington DC (with the monster emerging from Potomac river), with the interesting sights and buildings Wash DC also has (while still refraining from showing scenes of any politicians and / or a US president talking), but acknowledge both locations would be more expensive and harder to film in. Maybe something to consider for a sequel, that wouldn’t do very well anyway.

Brook
Brook
Sun, Jan 20, 2008 3:28am

Saw it tonight and absolutely loved it. I can’t remember the last time I was able to get so lost in a popcorn movie – Last of the Mohicans maybe?

Cloverfield is fantastic and I can’t really imagine improving on it. It is a love letter to Lovecraft and since I grew up steeped in that mythology I was just giddy watching it.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sun, Jan 20, 2008 11:55am

But this movie needs a city with canyons created by skyscrapers. It’s necessary for keeping the monster from our sight for as long as it is. Set it in Washington DC and it would have been very different.

PaulW
Mon, Jan 21, 2008 11:15am

Few cities have the ‘landscape’ that Manhattan/New York has. Chicago comes closest, in terms of the skyscrapers, the claustrophobic streets, the occasional bridge. There’s an excellent entry on New York City in the ‘Encyclopedia of Fantasy’ that really gets what NYC is in the minds of readers and viewers: to us, it is the definitive city. Like it or not, whenever we try to imagine a city, NYC is our default mode. Remember the second movie of The Punisher? They based it in Tampa. Did the cityscape really make you think ‘Epic Revenge Story’ the way it could have been if it was based in NYC? This is why the American version of Godzilla had a Pacific-based monster swim all the way around the globe to reach New York, even though it made no sense and San Francisco would have been more appropriate…

We got our Monster-Destroys-DC fix anywho, with Independence Day. UFO blows up White House = Money Shot.

WriterGuy
WriterGuy
Thu, Jan 24, 2008 11:18am

“Godzilla meets the Blair Witch Project, then?”

Let’s try not to copy and paste next time: http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie.aspx?m=2142831&mp=cr#Review_0.

Allen Darrah
Allen Darrah
Thu, Jan 24, 2008 6:03pm

I don’t know if I could have been happier with Cloverfield. Somehow, by some calamity of chance, I missed all of the pre-movie adverthype. I really didn’t know much about it other than the phrase my group of friends used to describe it when we invited more and more from our fold to go see it: “it’s a giant monster movie.”
The Kansas City Star’s print commentary from Butler, which, it might be worthwhile to note I usually loathe Buter, was spot-on: the limited vision from Hud’s camera made the movie great, whereas if we’d only been watching it would have been good.
The one scene that sold me and allowed me to truly suspend my disbelief was when the entire party crowded up to the roof to get a better view of the developing chaos, and, as fiery rubble showered on them the camera’s audio kept cutting out. From that point on I was on board and loved every second of the brief ride.
I love cheering “that was great!” as I walk out of a theatre… such a rarity.

Avishai
Avishai
Sun, Jan 27, 2008 12:19am

If you show this to somebody pre-911, and tell them it is actual footage, the person watching would be really freaked. This felt so real.

JoshDM
JoshDM
Sun, Jan 27, 2008 12:48pm

Best Cloverfield Spoof Trailer ever : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSRMJO6yIkc

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sun, Jan 27, 2008 1:20pm

It’s pretty sad if that’s the best trailerspoofers could come up…

JoshDM
JoshDM
Sun, Jan 27, 2008 2:44pm

The part where the girl asks what this is for and HUD in the background whispers, “Bob has cancer.” and she responds, “WE’LL MISS YOU, BOB!” had me rolling.

tim
tim
Sun, Jan 27, 2008 5:32pm

I thought it was a very good film, but I wonder if a couple of tweaks could have lifted it up into the “great” catagory?

1. Set the movie in San Francisco and avoid the unnecessary (and almost distracting) comparisons to 9.11. S.F. offers the same sense of enclosure, ocean access, and landmarks.

2. Use the same filming style as Saving Private Ryan. You get the same effect without the obvious problems associated with pretending this was filmed by a guy with a camcorder. You also negate the (again) unnecessary and distrating comparisons to Blair Witch Project.

It was definitely invigorating and suspenseful though. I wonder how it’ll play on DVD?

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sun, Jan 27, 2008 6:18pm

Setting this in San Fran would not eliminate the inevitable allusions to 9/11. This movie is *about* 9/11, in a lot of ways, in the same way that *Godzilla* was *about* Japan trying to cope with being a-bombed. The allusions to 9/11 are not accidental: they are inherent.

Brian
Brian
Mon, Jan 28, 2008 8:38am

Speaking of Dramamine, I, too, left the movie feeling queasy, and it wasn’t because of the shaking of the camera, or the content of the movie itself — it was because of a lot of very high frequency noise on the soundtrack (and perhaps low frequency noise as well). Since the speakers in that theater seem to be okay, and the “noise” didn’t seem random, I wondered if it had been deliberately introduced, to unsettle the viewer, but that’s obviously a guess. In any case, I left with my ears hurting, and hoping that I hadn’t damaged my hearing over a movie that I hadn’t liked very much.

Yes, there’s a lot of Lovecraft in it, which in this case is a good thing — the universe as too vast to be anything but indifferent to the very existence of human beings. Pity that gets thrown away at the end, when the monster seems to be making a special effort to kill, and for the first time you get to see it clearly (which I think is also a mistake).

Good idea for a movie, one that you’d really like to come off, and Drew Goddard is who you’d want writing it, but I’m afraid it didn’t work for me. JJ Abrams at this stage in his career reminds me of early Spielberg, when he seemed fixated on suburban consumerism — very talented but also callow. Of course, the rest of the analogy is that mature Spielberg is a much different story.

Bob Aman
Mon, Jan 28, 2008 12:18pm

Of course, one might question whether we need a new kind of monster movie for the post-9/11 world.

I question whether we need a new kind of monster movie for the post-9/11 world.

Saw it last night, good movie, well done, still hated it. Also, felt that carpet bombing would have been more effective in real life than it was in the movie. That normally wouldn’t bother me, but the movie was trying so hard to be real (aside from the movie’s central plot point of a giant monster).

Robert
Robert
Mon, Jan 28, 2008 10:49pm

Directors sure seem to love decimating NYC. I just saw A.I. for the first time the other day – there too NYC is in ruins. I’m sure it’s because it’s so iconic, *the* big American city. No doubt why it was chosen as a target by the 9/11 attackers.

They could have eased up considerably on the Quease-A-Vision, particularly during the early movie. Yeah, we get it, it’s supposed to look like it was filmed by a consumer camcorder. So what model camcorder is this that takes images as good as a mega-buck professional movie camera – and with cinematic stereo sound – but *doesn’t* have steady-shot? ;-)

Overall I thought it was engaging, though for a film trying for ultra-realism, there were some oddly unrealistic elements. This girl has been laying there impaled by a metal rod through her chest which is then ripped out, which by itself is likely to kill her, and next thing you know she’s dashing through the streets instead of dying from shock and blood loss.

I thought leaving it unexplained was a good touch. There’s a natural desire to have it explained and understood but the central characters don’t ever find out what it was, and we don’t either.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 12:35am

Beth was not impaled through her chest: she was impaled through her shoulder. Bleeds a lot, hurts like hell, probably won’t heal completely, but not a fatal wound.

Robert
Robert
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 9:14am

[blockquote]Beth was not impaled through her chest: she was impaled through her shoulder. Bleeds a lot, hurts like hell, probably won’t heal completely, but not a fatal wound.[/blockquote]

The debate over whether it was “the chest” or “the shoulder” aside, you can die from a run-through injury like that anywhere. Ask a paramedic or a doctor. Anything I’ve ever heard is to NOT remove the object and let medical pros remove it because it could be keeping arteries that are severed from rapidly bleeding out and/or causing even more damage.

Though she was basically unconscious when they found her – presumably from pain, shock & blood loss – remember her voicemail message “I’m bleeding I’m bleeding” – once they clumsily yanked her off of it and dragged her down to the street again, she seemed to have completely shaken it off and didn’t even seem to suffer any particular debilitation.

I know, it’s a movie.

Robert
Robert
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 9:27am

Oops. Wrong brackets for the blockquote. I’ve got BBcode on the brain.

Btw, why am I getting constant data transfer in the background when I’m on your site, even well after the page has loaded? It stops as soon as I bail out of your site.

Hdj
Hdj
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 1:03pm

I dont think she was worth going back for, Thats just me though, Soon as I saw that thing roaring, Id be like “yeah I think its time to swim acrossed the Hudson river”. Thats my thoughts why dont people just swim acrossed the river to New Jersey?

bronxbee
bronxbee
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 1:47pm

the Making Light blogsite has an interesting entry from James MacDonald (author *and* EMS guy) on the rights and wrongs of the actions of the Cloverfield Group. WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS are contained in this blog entry. good reading if you’ve seen the movie and are commenting.

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009872.html#009872

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 2:04pm

why am I getting constant data transfer in the background when I’m on your site, even well after the page has loaded?

No idea.

Soon as I saw that thing roaring, Id be like “yeah I think its time to swim acrossed the Hudson river”.

You’ve got no friends you’d want to save, huh?

Thats my thoughts why dont people just swim acrossed the river to New Jersey?

You’ve never been to New York, have you?

Hdj
Hdj
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 5:22pm

I have been to NYC. I’ve been downtown, midtown , never been to Brooklyn or Staten Island. I know theres a path that goes under Hudson river, Maybe walking the path would be safer then trying to muscle out the current.
I’d save my friends for sure, just not the people in “Cloverfield”. They were like the cool crowd people, my friends are more mish mash, kinda like bar friends.

Robert
Robert
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 6:51pm

the Making Light blogsite has an interesting entry from James MacDonald

Interesting. Yes, dumb to fly the chopper in proximity to the beast as if on a ride at Disney except that’s the only way they’re going to get the money shot. Hey, they were probably National Guard guys.

why dont people just swim acrossed the river to New Jersey?

Go down to your local pool and see how well you fare swimming that same distance – which varies greatly depending on which part of the river it is. Now instead of being in a recreational pool imagine you’re in the dark, in a filthy river with a tide. The difference in the amount of energy you’re going to expend is going to be tremendous. You’re also going to be colliding with a jillion other panicking people. A family with little kids sure isn’t going to make it and there’s less than -0- chance parties would stay together.

How well do you know the terrain of the river bank? Assuming you even make it across, you have no idea where you’re going to end up. Do you know what you’re going to encounter when you reach the other side? Probably not a ladder, towel and lounge chair. Are you going to end up some place that’s inhospitable to an exhausted swimmer who’s also competing for escape and survival with everybody else? People who are extremely fit might have a shot at it but I was a competitive swimmer and I’d sure think twice about it.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Tue, Jan 29, 2008 10:53pm

Thanks, Robert, for making my point. The Hudson River is WIDE. And cold. And it’s not really a river at that point but a tidal basin. Extreme athletes swim it. Not regular folk.

What happened on 9/11, when a lot of people had to get out of Lower Manhattan in a short period of time, is that whoever was on boats in New York harbor organized impromptu ferries out of Manhattan carrying as many people as they could. That self-organizing escape has actually been praised by emergency planners as the kind of thing you could never have actually worked as a structured thing: it was just people doing what they could for other people. You can bet that kind of thing would be happening in *Cloverfield,* too. Except it would be even worse, because obviously the monster could be in the river, too… which is how it demolished the Brooklyn Bridge.

The best thing to do in the *Cloverfield* situation, if saving your own life was your only focus, would be to walk in the opposite direction of the monster. (Which is, again, what most people did on 9/11, and also during the massive power outage a couple of summers later.) You can be sure a lot of that was going on. But this movie was about people who didn’t do that, because they couldn’t leave friends behind (Rob couldn’t leave Beth, the others couldn’t leave Rob). Whether you agree with their decision or not, it’s not something that is outside the realm of human experience: it’s well within it, in fact. People do all sorts of strange things under extraordinary stress, and wanting to save people you care about, no matter what the odds, is not so strange at that.

hdj
hdj
Wed, Jan 30, 2008 2:19am

Perhaps I’m just a misinformed hollywood watcher. Honestly I thought I could make it till i talked to my father a relative of east harlem. He said “Swim arcossed the hudson river?! the current would take you out to the atlantic”.
I just don’t see the math in the odds sometimes. Hence why I went into Liberal Arts.
A part of me tells me i could survive jumping off a bridge as well, as long as i did it right, maybe the pencil drop? Who knows , I meen after all Dr.Kimble( Ford) did that huge drop off the dam and survived, maybe i could.
Over all Robert thanks for the vivid outline of my tactic , event thought it was a failure.

Burt
Burt
Wed, Jan 30, 2008 4:27am

Even though it’d do poorly compared to the first film (after it had a rather disastrous almost 70 % 2nd week drop off in North America, obviously from negative word of mouth), it would be cool seeing a Cloverfield sequel set in either Miami, San Fran, Las Vegas or Washington DC. Setting it in a different country would keep it much fresher, like either the UK (London) or Japan (Tokyo), but that’d substantially increase the budget, so it’s unlikely to happen.

It was mentioned in Variety that Paramount
(who intentionally spent a minimal amount on marketing the movie) mostly expected the film would fizzle quickly and have a swift dropoff. The
film lends itself poorly to repeat cinema or DVD viewings, so I’m unsure if DVD will be that
lucrative for the film, other than from people renting it, after ignoring it at the cinema.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Wed, Jan 30, 2008 12:49pm

I disagree that the film does not lend itself to re-viewings: I’ve seen it twice now, and I found the second viewing as intense as the first.

And I suspect part of what kept people away the second weekend was the “news” that the movie is giving some people motion sickness. Which is bizarre, to me. I suffer from motion sickness, and I was just fine. I’m not denying that a few people may have been affected, but it seems unlikely that it’s a widespread phenomenon.

Robert
Robert
Wed, Jan 30, 2008 2:14pm

I suspect part of what kept people away the second weekend was the “news” that the movie is giving some people motion sickness.

I have motion sickness issues and had to look away from the screen several times during the “soap opera” introduction. I thought they severely overdid it. If I watched it again, I’d skip that whole part which is really mainly there to set you up for the big “gotcha”.

I did advise someone who had somehow heard NOTHING about the movie until I told her about it to watch it without reading any reviews or watching any previews. I think it would have seemed even more surreal if I had watched it under those circumstances and simply seen it unfold. That’s actually my favorite movie watching scenario but it’s hard to do with the mega promotion efforts. I’ve even been to movies where there were previews for the movie I was about to watch.

Robert H.
Fri, Feb 01, 2008 6:25pm

The movie is way more clever than actually good – typical for anything connected with Abrams.

And those commenting on how ‘Lovecraftian’ the movie is have obviously never read any of Lovecraft’s works.

Nathan
Nathan
Sat, Feb 02, 2008 12:48am

it’s not “Lovecraftian” but you can forgive someone for thinking of Lovecraft… the limited perspective of the narrator and the gradual revealing of the creature, not to mention some mysterious origin in the sea, might make someone think of Lovecraft. in the end, though, the threat isn’t presented as being truly cosmic or, as Lovecraft would write, “unhuman” enough to be of that genre.

great flick, will see again, would recommend. can’t wait for the sequel, prequel, whatever.

Larry Yinger
Larry Yinger
Sat, Feb 02, 2008 1:44am

I am, and have been, an unabashed fan of flick filosopher reviews since the beginning. Except for petty quibbles, 99% of the reviews are just brilliant.
But Cloverfield is in the “one percent”. Hand-held looks cheap and in a “Godzilla re-make” does not foster an illusion of reality. And motion sickness tends to spoil the fun. The “mindless destruction” metaphor set in New York is interesting , but as MaryAnn said in her Blair Witch review: “The Blair Witch Project works not because of what’s on the screen – no gore, no expensive special effects – but what isn’t. Ultimately, it’s all in service of a good story (Note to Hollywood: Story. Story! STORY!).”
Flipped over, these are the reasons why Cloverfield just does NOT work.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Sat, Feb 02, 2008 2:39pm

And motion sickness tends to spoil the fun.

I’m sure that’s true. But how does that have anything to do with my review? I mean, I understand that we may disagree on whether handheld looks cheap or not, or whether the film creates a sense of being “real.” But are you suggesting that I should have anticipated that some people would experience motion sickness watching the movie, and offered some sort of commentary on whether that adds or detracts from the quality of the film?

larry yinger
larry yinger
Mon, Feb 04, 2008 1:38am

MaryAnn, —– My apologies. You’re right on that point (motion sickness). It was not your responsibility unless you knew of people getting sick beforehand. You did, however, warn away people who were previously freaked by 9/11 footage. I presume you were anticipating that those people might have a different “experience” for emotional/visceral reasons. Wasn’t that an offered commentary suggesting a reason why some people would not be able to appreciate the same film “quality”?
– Larry Yinger

DiscoSanchez
DiscoSanchez
Mon, Feb 04, 2008 2:42pm

I found it to be really invasively visceral and frightening, but there’s an emptiness to it that’s exemplified by the lack of real justification for the 9/11 imagery and the way every single character in the movie is uncommonly photogenic. The imagery resonates, but how could it not? It’s just pushing buttons without a subtextual purpose–just because exploitation is effective doesn’t make it more than exploitation, a cheap shock. And while the characters are at least likable enough, the way that the film was seemingly cast from a GAP catalog just tells me me how shallow JJ Abrams assumes that I am. I don’t think a movie has sucked me in quite as much as Cloverfield did in a long time, but it left me with nothing to contemplate, and it aggravates me that something this immediately traumatic has no long-term emotional residue or meaning.

MaryAnn
MaryAnn
Mon, Feb 04, 2008 10:13pm

Wasn’t that an offered commentary suggesting a reason why some people would not be able to appreciate the same film “quality”?

Yes, it was. But as you noted, without having any idea that this movie would actually make people sick, how could I possibly have commented on such a contingency?

It’s just pushing buttons without a subtextual purpose

I disagree. The subtext is all of us still trying to work through the horrors of 9/11, like how Beth sobs at the end of the film about how she doesn’t understand why this is happening. There may be reasons that explain 9/11 and the monster attacking New York — geopolitical blowback, man’s dumping crap in the ocean that produces a monster, whatever — but to the ordinary person on the ground, experiencing the horror, those explanations are not what we’re looking for. We’re asking a question for which there is no answer… and the characters of *Cloverfield* get no answer. The answer doesn’t exist. Only the endlessly asked question.