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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Cloverfield

Cloverfield poster art.  Photo courtesy Focus Features
Cloverfield poster art. Photo courtesy Focus Features

By Chris Webb/nw news editor

Cloverfield (4 stars)

Cloverfield poster art.  Photo courtesy Focus Features
Cloverfield poster art. Photo courtesy Focus Features

Producer J.J. Abrams (Lost) and Director Matt Reeves erupt from the confines of TV series into the world of big time movie making with one of the most immersive monster flicks ever.

Cloverfield is one part Godzilla, one part Blair Witch Project and two parts intensity. Forget edge of your seat; this movie will make you forget to breathe.

The opening seems like a home video camera on the set of a soap opera, setting a lethargic tone that tricks the audience into getting comfortable. Fortunately, the mood doesn’t last long as the action and terrors catapult at the audience.

Few will be disappointed. The monster is huge, horrific, powerful, complicated and, apparently, has some serious dislike for humanity. The movie doesn’t waste much time educating the audience on the monster’s background, and that’s precisely what sets Cloverfield apart.

The camera work breathes life into this adrenaline-injected thriller, keeping the action constant and the audience one step behind. The amateur video camera effect could have easily come across as gimmicky; instead, it makes the struggle more personal and the danger closer. The lack of a soundtrack also adds shock value to many scenes.

Cloverfield continues to break basic monster movie rules by showing the big beastie early and often. The documentary style camera work shows the monster a great deal without giving a clear shot, and when the monster is finally shown up close in focus, you’ll almost wish they hadn’t seen it. 

Robert (Michael Stahl-David), Marlena (Caplan) and Lily (Jessica Lucas) watch in horror at the destruction of New York.  Photo courtesy Focus Features
Robert (Michael Stahl-David), Marlena (Caplan) and Lily (Jessica Lucas) watch in horror at the destruction of New York. Photo courtesy Focus Features

The cast consists of TV actors with little or no experience with movies. Fortunately, their level of commitment and emotion embedded into every line or look more than makes up for their lack of experience. Michael Stahl-David does an amazing job in what is probably his break-through role as central character Robert Hawkins. He commands every scene he’s in, adding emotional depth to the chaos on screen. Although his performance borders on melodramatic at times, he is one of the main reasons this movie is an experience rather than Friday night filler.

T.J. Miller provides this movie with replay value by lending his dry wit and humor as Hud Platt, the character with the camera. Constantly stating the obvious or bringing up the most inappropriate topic at the worst time, he gives the audience a much-appreciated break from the constant suspense.

Lizzy Caplan also shines, often fueling Miller’s outrageous comments as she plays the quirky Marlena Diamond. Her character bounces jokes off Miller, and when the plot begins to darken, Caplan unveils her horror movie acting skills by turning up the panic and drama.

Cloverfield is far from flawless, with cheesy lines including one person’s last words: “It’s Alive.”

The unique manner in which the movie is filmed coupled with the almost constant insane pace and suspense makes these lines forgivable and almost unnoticeable, as the audience has no time to digest them before the plot moves on.

Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) runs from the military attacking the mysterious monster.  Photo courtesy Focus Features
Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) runs from the military attacking the mysterious monster. Photo courtesy Focus Features

Cloverfield isn’t a reinvention of the horror genre, just some fresh ideas fused into a great thrill ride well worth seeing, maybe even twice.

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