A Review of “Cloverfield”

CAPTION:  Lizzy Caplan and Jessica Lucas were ready for their close-ups until that pesky monster came along.

Pretty Close to Something Terrible…, 21 January 2008
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

At one point during the mayhem of “Cloverfield” our jerky-jokey cameraman Hud (an annoying T. J. Miller) remarks that the monster ravaging New York City is “something terrible.” Well, “Cloverfield” is pretty close to something terrible, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny and loads of fun.

Taking cues from “The Blair Witch Project”, “Godzilla”, and our current YouTube/MySpace crazed youth oriented culture that believes everyone’s point of view deserves to be recorded, producer J. J. Abrams’ opportunistic “Cloverfield” operates at a mercifully quick clip to maximize entertainment value with a minimum of effort (and budget) while showing us allegedly top-secret video footage recovered after a massive monster attack on NYC.

Though barely ninety minutes long, we still have to suffer through an excruciatingly banal opening twenty minutes of vapid, spoiled twenty-somethings partying the night away before the monster strikes. There was a moment somewhere during this that I actually zoned out completely and found myself staring at the dark theater wall. The cast of unknowns thankfully contains a few people who might be able to act if given the chance in a normal film. Standouts include the painfully lovely Jessica Lucas as the feisty Lily and Zooey Deschanel look-a-like Lizzy Caplan as the sarcastic Marlena. These two young actresses acquitted themselves nicely while a group of anonymous and interchangeable actors playing stupid characters making bad decision after bad decision whirled around them. It made for one of those odd movie-going experiences where you actually start routing for certain characters to die in horrible ways while you hope the pretty girls make it out alive because, well, they’re cute.

As a gimmick film, “Cloverfield” is as shallow as they come. It’s also too silly and too much fun to end up mad about it. At least the idiot hand-held cameraman/character wants to see the monster and the destruction as much as we do. This leads to some great money-shots of the creature and its tour of terror through midtown Manhattan. It would’ve been more thrilling had I not seen very similarly designed creature effects in last fall’s “The Mist”. Like that film, “Cloverfield” certainly has its moments of giddy monster oriented fun, but it ultimately implodes and leaves behind a wreck of a movie that is pretty close to something terrible.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database: