I wasn’t going to watch it, but then since it comes in at under 90-mins I decided to give it a go. I’m glad I did.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not brilliant. Indeed I think comments that it reinvents the Godzilla genre are a bit too much. But it’s a good film nonetheless.
Once you get used to the jerky handheld camera perspective (which, by the way, you will), what you get is a beautifully conceived concept-movie: footage from a handheld video-camera retrieved after Manhattan is totalled by a stadium-sized monster (with a doomed love-story thrown in to appease the date-movie crowd).
It’s not terribly scary. As someone who (figuratively) crapped himself silly while watching 28-Weeks Later alone in our Tallinn apartment, it’s fair to say I do get the heebie-jeebies quite easily. I was more in awe than scared of the monsters in Cloverfield.
While the mini-beasties the monster sheds like dandruff are derivative (kinda like the bugs in the fantastic Starship Troopers), the main monster is a colossal mountain of vicious havoc, taking down skyscrapers and bridges with a single malevolent swipe — while occasionally taking time out to munch on tasty Manhattanites. Hmmmm Manhattanites…
The beauty of Cloverfield is that nothing, I said NOTHING, is explained. The director doesn’t assume his audience are dribbling morons. I like this. The army grunts and the occasionally spotted TV news footage convey utter and complete confusion. The city and the authorities are in disarray. No-one knows what the monster is, or where the hell it came from. And don’t expect the story to unfold at the end — it doesn’t.
So Cloverfield… It’s not scary, but it is wonderfully conceived. Oh, and it does make the dog-shit awful remake of Godzilla irrelevant (if it wasn’t already), even if, sadly, it’s unlikely to lead to a renaissance in the genre. 7/10