Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

I Saw Cloverfield

Posted by Gerald on January 27, 2008

I really enjoyed it.  It is the best monster movie I’ve seen in a long time.  I’d say the best since Alien.  It is also a very interestingly executed film.  The visual style of the film, the pacing of the story-telling, and even the design of the monster all worked.

I think this is the best execution of the whole “found film” genre of movies I’ve seen.  Of course, that is also the reason for the  most difficult thing about watching the film – the “shaky-cam.”  There is no getting around it, ninety minutes of that does get to you.  I’m not really bothered by this sort of thing very much, but I did walk out of the film with a minor headache and a mild case of nausea.  The thing is, it was worth it.  Without that, the visual style of the film would have read as false.  Also, the found-film conceit gave the film one of its strongest appeals in my opinion.  Without giving much away, the idea that this is something being taped over another set of images opens the door for a useful framing device that keeps the more emotional elements of the film working and that really contributes to its ending.

Another thing I liked about it that I think bothers some people is that the film doesn’t provide a lot of exposition to explain what is going on.  It is very immediate.  You follow the experiences of people in the middle of a disaster.  They do not really have the big picture.  They get glimpses early on through very well-executed scenes reflecting the ubiquity of electronics in all of our lives.  This adds some outside perspective to what is really a small story – what happened to a few people – against the backdrop of a much bigger story.  There are similarities to Titanic in that way.  Still, since this isn’t told from the point of view of the military, or scientists, or leaders – the traditional thing with monster movies and even disaster films – there are a lot of unanswered questions when the film ends.

All of this contributes to what I liked about this movie.  It gave some real moments against a very unreal situation.  That allowed the film to remain serious rather than playing for camp.  It could have easily been ridiculous (anyone remember the American re-make of Godzilla? *shudder*) but it worked.  It was too dark to be popcorn fun.  Instead it was a successful attempt to make a dramatic film about something that could have been incredibly not dramatic.

I liked it.  Check it out.

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One Response to “I Saw Cloverfield”

  1. film dude said

    i could’nt help thinking “blair witch” the whole time, except this one had a heck of a lot better sound quality

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