Movie Review: Cloverfield
Director: Matt Reeves, 2008
Pros: realistic alien invasion with regards to destruction and alien nature of invaders
cons: shaky cam, unlikable protagonists
Cloverfield begins with a farewell party for Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) who's moving to Japan for a new job. His rather jerky best friend, Hud Platt (T. J. Miller), is asked to document the party and record clips of everyone saying good-bye. Rob wonders about the direction of his life when his long time friend, and short term lover he recently jilted, Beth (Odette Yustman), arrives at the party with another man.
An explosion outside is the first sign that something horrible is happening in New York City. The party goers efforts to leave the city are frustrated by the collapse of infrastructure due to an alien invasion and the knowledge that Beth is trapped in midtown.
Shaky cam makes this film painful to watch. I imagine the purpose for it was to make the action feel reel and immediate. Instead, it meant seeing shots of feet when I'd have rather seen the alien menace. The action takes place mostly off screen or on a tilted or jiggling screen. The scenes where you finally get to see the aliens are amazingly terrifying.
The protagonists had irritating personalities. Shaky cam meant deaths were mostly off screen and confusing (sometimes I wasn't sure someone had actually died) so it was hard to sympathise with their pain. And, despite getting to know them a bit, or perhaps because of it, I didn't care when people died.
The special effects were great and the aliens were delightfully creepy and evil, killing and destroying indiscriminately.
Ultimately, despite some awesome aliens, it's not the best invasion film.