Cloverfield (2008) – By Brian Morton

 To get me into a theater anymore, you really need to have something that I think might be special…well, that or a chainsaw massacre of some kind…and I really thought I saw something in the trailer for Cloverfield that had that originality and ‘specialness’ that makes a really great movie.  Something that you’ve never seen before, but that works so perfectly that everyone leaving the theatre is thinking, "why didn’t I think of that? It’s so simple!".  I went into Cloverfield thinking that the genius of J.J. Abrams might actually cross over from the television series Lost to the movies.  Man, was I wrong!<br><br>

Having been a fan of giant monsters since I was a kid, I was giddy with excitement that someone who really understood sci-fi and horror might actually make a giant monster movies cool again.  And, in Cloverfield, there’s all the right elements, they just never live up to their promise.  The movie begins with a party for a friend that’s leaving town, everything is shot by one hand held camera by a party-goer.  As the party goes on, we get acquainted with the heroes of the film, it takes a very long time, so long that I was beginning to think that the monster had been forgotten.  But, about 15 minutes in (or at least it felt that long) something shakes the building and we all run to the roof where we see a giant explosion in downtown Manhattan, an explosion so big that scrapnel falls on our heroes, so we now run off the roof to get out of the building!<br><br>

When we reach ground level, now comes the now-famous Statue Of Liberty head scene, which prompts our heroes to run for their lives to get off the island.  Well, I could go on and on here and ruin a truly crappy movie for you, but I won’t do that…mostly because this article would then become just as bad as the movie itself!<br><br>

The upshot of Cloverfield is pretty simple, it’s a great concept, giant monster movie told from the point of view of the people on the ground.  It has potential to be social commentary on our post-9/11 world, it could have possibly re-invented the giant monster movie totally.  What we actually got was a movie that’s only half there.  We, the audience, are expected to do a ton of work to get what’s not in the film, what the monster is, why it’s attacking New York and what the hell are those things falling off of it!?  We’re expected to head to sites like ab3293.com, parasitemovie.com or slusho.com to dig for clues about the movie.  Well, I have to say, as a life-long movie lover, I’ve never had time to do the film-makers job for him!  Isn’t it the job of the movie to tell me exactly what the hell is going on on-screen?  Isn’t the movie supposed to explain things that are asked during the trailer?  And, if something is left undone, it’s only a nugget of what might be next for a possible sequel!  In Cloverfield, we never get a really good look at the monster (either the giant one or the little ones), something happens when you’re bitten, but that’s never explained and, in the end, we’re left wondering exactly what the hell happened!  Well, actually I was left wondering why I just gave J.J. Abrams five dollars for no good reason.<br><br>

Here’s the deal, when you make a monster movie, you should let us get a good look at the monster, you should explain what the hell is going on, even if that’s just a theory of someone in the movie, and the movie should have some kind of final sequence that finishes the story (even if this is just part one of the story), Cloverfield delivers none of that!!!  I was left wondering what the monster was, why it was here, and what the hell exactly is a ‘hammerhead’.  As a promotion machine, Cloverfield is unmatched, it’s the Blair Witch of giant monster movies, but in reality, it’s a Godzilla movie told from the point of view of the citizens we always see running away from the action, all the good stuff is going on off camera, we get to hear much of it, but what we see leaves you not only wanting more, but exasperated that you don’t get to see more!  I’m giving Cloverfield a low half a cigar out of four, because all that potential was totally wasted.  And, if this whole movie was a set up for a sequel of some sort, then it was the biggest rip-off ever…and I won’t be in line for any more of these movies!  So, until next time, let me remind you that, when I say the best movies are bad movies, I really mean that some movies are ‘bad’ and some are just BAD…you know what I mean.