Cloverfield of Dreams

If you haven’t seen Cloverfield, do not read this post. If you have, I’ve decided in the wake of everything to sum up what I see as the good, the bad and the indifferent about the movie to incite anger and empathy.


THE PROS:

— Cloverfield’s DIY presentation is more than just POV angles; the film opens with color bars and video glitches and throughout the film, we find ourselves seeing glimpses of a previous life recorded on the same tape. Other touches include moments of , and near the end, when the camera tries to find focus on a fallen comrade. It’s not hyper accurate, but it’s this attention to detail that makes this so much more than just a home movie.

— More so, the story unfolding underneath the main Cloverfield incident helps strengthen the choices made by its characters. There’s no way I’m scaling a building to save some douchebag, but if it’s “my love,” damn skippy! Does the device work? Enough for me to buy the decision.

— The way we meet the Cloverfield monster is amazing, rationed out in the appropriate amount of drips until showtime. It’s exactly what I wanted out of this film (even more than I expected). In the beginning, we see something moving between buildings, later we start to get a sense of scale as buildings crumble around it. From a “victim’s” POV, it’s perfect. And the scene where we see parasites dropping off the main monster via a news report?? Shocking and freaky. I can only hope my legs work if and when I ever witness a sight like that. Love the way the monsters are doled out, with the exception of the scene set in Central Park which I’ll get into later.

— The best part about any giant monster movie is of course, the way our armed forces deal with the situation. That key scene where our heroes are running in the street and rockets are flying past them, tanks rolling past and soldiers shooting at the monster was awe inspiring. Finally, we have a unique view of what it’s like when we hear that familiar Akira Ifukube riff from old Godzilla flicks as the maser cannons and remaining Japanese army mobilizes. Very satisfying!

— More than just the reveal of the monster itself, the way Cloverfield shares more about its threatening nature is well done. At first, we learn about the aforementioned parasites, but later we discover a nasty side effect about being bitten by those parasites. I’m still not sure exactly what’s happening, but at the least, we see that a bite leads to a victim exploding from the inside in a scary, nerve rattling scene. Wish there was more like this!

— Of course, a movie like this is only as good as its monster, and here I thought the Cloverfield creature was cool. I didn’t think it was too digital or fake. I like that it was something we hadn’t really seen before, and that I’m still not sure what it was. I know it has four legs, with two mini-arms and a tail. I’m not sure which appendage wrecked the bridge, and I like that I’m still unsure.

— The adventure itself works well. During an evacuation, a bridge collapses as the creature smashes it apart. While underground in subway tunnels, our “heroes” are stalked by creatures that they catch via night vision, and eventually have to scale a building in a Poseidon Adventure-style scene. Everything seems real and logical, and also exciting as we move from set piece to set piece.

— Even though I didn’t fall for the characters (more later), I did find myself laughing a lot with the humor. I’m at a loss right now to remember any specific one liner or situation, but I didn’t remember any groaners.

— As the credits roll, I get to hear an amazing symphony of destruction: Roar! (The Cloverfield Overture). I love this a LOT; it feels like a hybrid of Parasite Eve and a ’50s style monster movie. Please release it on iTunes soon, so I don’t have to wait for DVD to rip it.

— Finally, the more I read online, the more I love this film. The radio message at the end, which has relevance played forward AND backward. A seemingly throwaway scene wrapping up the love story, which predates the events of Cloverfield, actually is said to include something falling out of the sky and crashing into the ocean behind them. I rarely go to the movies to see the same thing over and over again, but these kind of touches drive that kind of attendance. Makes me wonder what else is in there.

CONS:

— Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Cloverfield is that I never really cared for any of its characters. Maybe I shared a little bit of Rob’s anxiety about his hot piece of ass girlfriend, but mostly everyone was expendable to me. And in fact, I wanted them to be expendable. I wanted them to be fodder for the monster and its brood. I suppose if I really liked and cared about this crew, I’d have felt more emotional weight when they buy it. I wonder if that kind of bond can be made in a movie made like this though. I really enjoyed the Blair Witch Project, with certain scenes that STILL scare the shit out of me, but again, didn’t like anybody (and they were much worse as actors).

— It’s probably this attachment to the characters that helps contribute to a lack of tension in Cloverfield. There were times that I felt tense, but really I should be on the edge of my seat, especially in the dark tunnels. I remember sitting in I Am Legend, freaking out while Will Smith is rooting around in the dark, just waiting for something to jump out at me. In Cloverfield, those same situations exist, but my feelings were muted. The only time I found myself really scared was when they were ontop of the fallen building, and interestingly enough, that’s the only time that nothing really bad happens to our gang. No one slips over the edge, the building doesn’t deteriorate, and I think it was a little bit of a copout. I wanted to see that!

— Another point on the character front, I really wish no familiar faces were cast in the movie. I didn’t recognize the actress that played Lizzie, but I did recognize an actor as an Army official through glimpses. The actor is Chris Mulkey, a character actor for the most part (I remember him best from The Hidden), but seeing him was a little jarring for a movie that wanted to feel like a real event.

— And to put a final nail in the character coffin, the introductory scenes are too long. We meet and linger with people we don’t care about for too long. Maybe this helps set the future events in motion better, but the one thing I dread about seeing this movie again is the extended party scene. I know I’ll be skipping that on DVD. Unless there was boobs. Too bad there wasn’t.

— My last grievance with Cloverfield is surprisingly the scene in Central Park. The helicopter has crashed (in an awesome scary scene I didn’t expect!), but interestingly enough our heroes have lived. The monster has followed them and we get a real good look at it in the daylight… and it’s just not as cool as what we had seen all movie. Yes, it’s cool that you get a POV inside it’s mouth, but overall, I almost wish the chopper just went down and the movie ended. Maybe I’ll cut my version with the helicopter crashing and then the radio message.

MISC:

— I’m saying this just to make the ladies mad. We were 3 guys and 3 girls, and when the movie was over, each of the girls felt nauseous due to the camera work, and each of the guys felt fine and strong. So girls are weak, and can’t handle the intensity and boys rule.

— I guess I understand that if people want to find some evil message in the movie that they’ll zero in on the looting scene. I didn’t sit there during the scene and think, “Ah, there’s how the movie portrays black people.” I mean, within seconds of that event, our main white character is also stealing, people in the store are of varied races, and one of our main characters is black (and she doesn’t loot a thing). I find this topic annoying.

— I almost put this as a CON, but I have so many unanswered questions. What is the monster? What are the parasites? Where does it come from? Does it want something? What happened next? Overall, I’d think this is a PRO, because it has my interest, but I really truly hope for a sequel of some kind which leads me to…

— Other stories. I was thinking about what kind of sequel I’d want for this movie. I suppose I wouldn’t mind something that takes place after the event, more traditional movie making about the search for its kin underwater or just the world trying to stop it as it takes over. Or if this is an alien invasion, why not have other cities? But what I really think should happen is that there are other stories told the same way. Video cameras are so prevalent these days that there’s no reason more folks . The catch here is that we’ve glimpsed the monster already, seen its surprises, so it’d be hard to watch a movie that is just a rehash of what we already know. All I know is that there’s no way this movie standsalone. Not after what I expect to be a $40M+ payday weekend on a $30M movie.

And now unleash the hounds, or as a friend once said, launch the dogs!

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No Responses to “Cloverfield of Dreams”

  1. DougGold says:

    Cell phones cannot get service in the subways.  Such bullshit.

  2. MAO says:

    In some train stations they do, 59th st downtown 6, 49th street N/R, the 1 somewhere uptown…however, spider monster parasites that took down soldiers in combat gear being beaten off by skinny girls and guys in a dark tunnel is somewhat questionable. 

    Eros had a great review taking apart 28 Weeks later where he listed all the plot holes and I agreed with nearly all of them even though I loved the movie, I was so tense during that movie I didn’t notice half of them (except the kids being able to sneak in quarantined areas, I don’t think having a gun to my head would’ve made me tense enough not to question THAT.) Point being, I wasn’t tense or scared during Cloverfield, so it made it harder for me not to think things like wow the camera didn’t break during the helicopter crash.  Come to think of it, that’s one hell of a camera battery.  And wow, she’s running really fast seeing as she was just impaled in her apartment building a minute ago…..

  3. Eros Welker says:

    Awww Mao, you do read what I write!  I think it’s interesting what we’ll accept when we’re along for the ride.  For me, I was super tense when 28 Weeks Later started but slowly it lost me, and hence the nitpicks bothered me.  With Cloverfield, it had me the whole time even though I wasn’t tense the whole movie.

    I remember the same thing happened when I saw Episode 3.  The first time, I really didn’t like it because I was nitpicking the fuck out of it (Astromech droids screaming in space when they’re cut in half?? Are you kidding me?!?) and on second viewing, I really enjoyed it.  So I’m hoping to go back to 28 Weeks Later and enjoy it for what it is, and not cringe when Stringer Bell lets anyone visit Typhoid Mary.

    BTW, I don’t know how true this is as I didn’t research it, but supposedly, the Cloverfield creature is actually… a baby.  Huh? Why? Wha?? Who??

  4. Fat Ass says:

    Meh.

    Didn’t do much for me either way. I didn’t hate it– thought the characters were weak and the lack of mythology was tremendously disappointing. But the movie kept my attention and had me excited, interested and varying degrees of tense throughout the whole thing. I also admired some of the clever ways they came up with to deliver backstory and give broader angles. But I didn’t love it, either.

    I can say this– I certainly have no interest in ever seeing it again, and I’m not at all compelled to find out where the monster came from or whether it’s an adult or not. The movie failed to grab my interest by not even throwing out a fishing line to hook me in a mythology.

    And it’s not a good thing that I really desperately wanted every character to die.

    Still, the moments where they came close to the creature were really cool and fun, and it was well worth my $12.75 and frustration with parking. It was a far superior experience to Godzilla from top to bottom, even though it was complete rip-off.

    So… meh.

    Dunno exactly how the comparison started, but I think 28 Weeks Later was VASTLY superior to this movie in just about every way.

  5. Battlestat Tiffactica says:

    Wow, awesome review, Eros. This coming from someone who has never put much weight on reviews (pre-EG that is!)

    I remembered walking out of there and thinking I now know why Bergy enjoys the movies soooo much. When you are really into a movie – actively anticipating it and totally being open to whatever it brings, and just all around wanting to get lost in the story – it makes for such a better movie-going experience. I’m naturally skeptical of everything but I just decided to go into this one with all the above-detailed enthusiasm and have to admit, I totally reaped the benefits. I think having it set in Manhattan had a lot to do with my reactions to it. Brings it home .

    BTW – I literally said “I hope there isn’t too much of that shaky camera shite in this movie as it makes me naush.” BUT I was totally not even close to being nauseous during the whole movie – so I must be a boy (Rom will be happy to have this finally confirmed).

    I too have some issues as per the 28 weeks later string above BUT, I don’t want to go in detail in my comments section – maybe I might post something – finally!

    YAY!

  6. Battlestar Tiffactica says:

    P.S. I saws its for $6.00 at Kips at 10:30 am!

  7. let's hope? says:

    ” I don’t want to go in detail in my comments section – maybe I might post something – finally! “

    not so subtle hint noted and hopefully ignored?

  8. Wednesday says:

    I agree on most of the cons, but I thought the helicopter crash was great and what happened after it. I felt so much like I knew what was about to happen, though, when the sirens came on. I was hoping, somehow, there’d end up being a POV of the monster. It’s not been done in these types of monster movies, to my knowledge. I didn’t feel nauseous but I did sit in a 4th to last row area of the theatre, which I think helped. Overcoming motion sickness symptoms caused from a sight disorientation really isn’t a boy/girl thing, more of an inner ear capability of how well you find your footing faster in handling imbalance. You can find ways to look away from the screen without missing anything.

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