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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner31/01/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Superbly directed and cleverly designed, Cloverfield presents an intriguing spin on the classic monster movie but the characters are largely unlikeable and the film suffers as a result.

What's it all about?
The film begins as if someone is watching a videotape that has been found after a mysterious incident in New York, codenamed Cloverfield. We briefly see images of a young couple, Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth (Odette Yustman) before we realise that someone has taped over their day at Coney Island with footage of Rob's leaving party, before he heads off to Japan.

However, during the party there's an attack on New York by an initially unseen monster and everyone runs for the streets, just in time to witness the head of the Statue of Liberty come crashing to the ground. With one of his friends still filming, Blair Witch-style, Rob and his friends risk their lives to rescue Beth before attempting to flee the city.

The Good
Director Matt Reeves handles the central conceit extremely well, perfectly capturing the sense of panic and chaos, while maintaining exactly the sort of breathless pace that you'd expect if you were fleeing a giant monster. Similarly, the effects are used sparingly to brilliant effect, with the camera only catching the occasional glimpse of the monster and all the explosions and destruction happening in the distant background.

There are also more powerful elements, such as cleverly filmed scenes that deliberately echo the chaos that followed 9/11. Similarly, the device of the pre-recorded videotape provides an additional emotional layer, because we keep seeing snatches of Rob and Beth during happier times, whenever the camera stops filming.

The Bad
Unfortunately, all the running and screaming doesn't leave much room for characterisation or dialogue. It also doesn't help that the characters are a largely unlikeable bunch (especially the one doing the actual filming) so you don't mind all that much if they get stomped or eaten or whatever.

Worth seeing?
Cloverfield is an enjoyable thriller that adds a modern twist to the Godzilla-style monster movie, though it's slightly let down by its characters.

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Content updated: 22/01/2020 02:44

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