Movie Review
Cloverfield poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published January 19, 2008
US Release: January 18, 2008

Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Mike Vogel , Lizzy Caplan

PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images
Running Time: 84 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $80,034,302
2 of 117
The big scenes generate the kind of intensity we want in a picture like this...but it takes time to get to them, which is a little frustrating.
Cloverfield is an enjoyable old-fashioned monster movie but it doesnít really do anything new with the genre. The movie basically combines the style of The Blair Witch Project, Godzilla, and War of the Worlds. The first twenty minutes take place at a party in Manhattan as a video camera takes us around to meet the guests. Once the beast strikes, itís a War of the Worlds escape in shaky cam. Thatís pretty much it, really.

There are some really tense action scenes in the movie Ė sequences that make up for the embarrassment that was Godzilla Ė but it takes time to get to them, which is a little frustrating. Even at a short 75 minute running time (without end credits), it felt like a two hour movie to me. The party scene at the beginning lasts too long, even though it introduces characters. There was a ten minute stretch where I thought, is anything going to happen anytime soon? When the disaster does strike, Cloverfield turns into a pretty good movie. Only even then, the movie does drag here and there. When the characters arenít around the beast, it slows down, and you may feel a little cheated that thereís not more going on (especially with such a short duration). The big scenes, though, generate the kind of intensity we want in a picture like this.

The ending is going to divide people, and I saw it coming. Considering the events that had come before it, it seemed like the most logical way for the movie to go out. Itís not original, and itís going to piss off some people (and some people did boo afterwards). I was still surprised by the decision to end the movie like this, because it seemed obvious many people would feel cheated. I see why they did it, but it wasnít a classy move.

Still, the movie worked. Even though itís shaky, many of the vague and quick shots during the attack are framed just right so we donít know every little thing about the situation. This is the old-school-suspense approach of less is more (and more akin to the style of Jaws). When we do get our close-up with the beast, it is frightening, and well-earned. I still say there wasnít enough action involving the beast, but it still ends up being a fairly tense movie.
Lee's Grade: B-
Ranked #2 of 117 between The Dark Knight (#1) and Revolutionary Road (#3) for 2008 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 3025 graded movies
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