Saturday, 21 November 2009

Film Review: CLOVERFIELD (2008)

Director: Matt Reeves
Producers: J.J. Abrams & Bryan Burk
Running time: 81 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

Watched on DVD Saturday 21st November 2009.


Manhattan, evening, a group of friends are throwing a party for Rob who has got a promotion at work and is moving to Japan. His brother Jason and his girlfriend Lily are throwing the party and Jason has got Hud, one of Rob’s best friends to document event for Rob to take to Japan with him. Hud is interested in one of the guests, Marlena, who doesn’t show much interest in him. Also at the party is Beth, an ex of Rob who he still has feelings for but has turned up with her new boyfriend. As you can tell, it’s gonna be a swell night!

Just after Rob and Beth have just had a big row and she has left, there is, what appears to be, an earthquake and all the power goes out. It comes up again and someone switches on a TV where a reporter says a tanker has exploded on the harbour. Most of the guests rush to the roof to see what’s happening. Another explosion, this time on land heralds the approach of the monster. Deciding it’s not safe on the roof, they rush down to the street where something big is thrown into a building further down and bounces to land just outside. It is the head of the Statue of Liberty! Rob, Jason, Hud, Lily and Marlena decide to try to get out of Manhattan and head for the Brooklyn Bridge. While crossing the bridge, Rob receives a call from Beth saying that she was trapped. At this point the bridge is attacked by the monster and one of their number doesn’t get away. The rest of the film deals with Rob’s attempts to get to Beth and the efforts of the military to defeat the monster. I won’t go into details, don’t want to give too many spoilers away!

It would be hard not to draw parallels with the amateur footage shot during the 9/11 attacks. The scene where a building collapses and a wall of smoke and dust blows down the street is uncannily similar. In fact, the filmmakers admit as much in the extras on the DVD. It is also very hard not to draw parallels with Godzilla, although different, a monster attacking New York is always going to look similar to the 1998 Roland Emmerich film.

I have to take my hat off to the filmmakers for the way the film was shot. It cannot have been easy to stage the footage they got. Also the special effects were pretty good, the main monster and the smaller ones both looked pretty scary. A good job by all of the main cast, Lizzy Caplan as Marlena, Jessica Lucas as Lily, T.J. Miller as Hud, Michael Stahl-David as Rob Hawkins, Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins and Odette Yustman as Beth McIntyre. Although there was a bit of over-acting going on at times, it was nowhere near as bad as in The Blair Witch Project (1999)!

Over all, a pretty exciting film with lots of edge-of-your-seat action. The first twenty minutes are pretty dull, but once the monster makes an appearance, things really hot up very quickly. Made in a documentary style, similar to The Blair witch Project, as already stated, I quite enjoyed not knowing where the next attack was coming from, or who might be the victim.

My score: 7.9/10

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