Tuesday, January 12, 2010

#394: Cloverfield (2008)

Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, T.J. Miller, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas & Odette Yustman

A going-away party for Tokyo-bound Rob Hawkins is abruptly interrupted when a Godzilla-like creature attacks New York City. Through the handheld camera being held by Rob’s best friend Hud, we witness the initial emergence of the creature, the escape routes from the city that prove worthless, and Rob’s heroic attempt to save his girlfriend who is stuck in what appears to be Trump Tower at Columbus Circle.

The talk about this film before its release was electric – figuratively, and literally. The initial trailer for the film (which I can’t find online, unfortunately) showed only one scene in which the head of the Statue of Liberty comes to a screeching halt on a New York street, with no title or information on the film shown. As its release date came closer, more trailers were released, and multiple websites were created to spur on talk about what exactly the creature was.

The anticipation was worth it. The handheld camera makes the action oh-so-much more intense. Its effect on the overall style of the film is profound, but is brought even further to reality by Reeves’ small choices throughout the film on the reaction of the New Yorkers. The greatest example must be when the Statue of Liberty’s head falls into the street, very few are looking at the iconic image directly – most are looking at it through their camera-phones.

The film has a perfect amount of comedy weaved into the thrilling action, and this comedy is best acted out through Lizzy Caplan, playing Marlena, the sarcastic barely-acquaintance of Rob, and Hud’s love interest. Overall, the cast is good, though nothing particular. It’s really the work behind the scenes that made this film phenomenal.

Get some popcorn and watch this if you haven’t done so already. It’s so worth it.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • The title "Cloverfield"; initially just a codename for the movie, is named for the boulevard in Santa Monica where the Bad Robot offices were located during the making of the film.
  • The decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty in the street is inspired by the poster for John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981), which depicts the head of the Statue of Liberty lying in the middle of the street.
  • Images from King Kong (1933), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), and Them! (1954) are hidden within the film. Each image is seen extremely briefly, for only a single frame, during a camera edit. The "Them!" picture is shown at 00.24.06, the "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" picture is shown at 00.45.27, and the "King Kong" picture is shown at 1.06.55. A brief clip of Rob and Beth at a train station is seen with the "King Kong" image at 1.06.51.
  • According to Neville Page, creature designer - the monster is a baby in a new environment - "spooked" and looking for its mother.

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