Cloverfield came at a defining moment in viral culture. YouTube was really getting big, and smart phones hadn’t even been around for 2 years yet. So give credit to the awareness of the filmmakers, including producer J.J. Abrams, to take a chance on something that spoke to a new generation–perhaps the first film to do so (based off memory so don’t get mad if I’m wrong). It was modern and cool and what people actually wanted to see, but not like in a cheap way when some rich old guy says “Ooo, I bet the kids’ll really dig this.” But in a totally conscious way.
It’s a monster movie with a modern flair. Set in New York City (where else?), it features a group of friends trying to escape Manhattan away from this large unidentifiable creature.
The acting isn’t the best–save for Lizzy Caplan and T.J. Miller (the latter of the two having his career essentially launched by this movie alone)–but that may have to do with the completely exposed and unrealistic dialogue. It’s obvious that the filmmakers chose to focus more on concept and narrative. And that’s fine.
During the movie’s setup, before the monster attacks, a party is being held to bid farewell to Rob (Michael Stahl-David) before he leaves for a new career opportunity in Japan. Rob’s best friend, Hud (Miller), is documenting the whole thing–including the rest of the movie–on video camera, which may be the best decision by the filmmakers in this whole film. Miller arguably carries the movie and provides great comic relief, proving why he deserves to be such a dominant figure in these types of roles these past few years.
Director Matt Reeves does a good job moving the story along and not leaving behind much wasted space. It constantly feels like this is what might actually happen if there were some sort of monster attack.
One allowance you’ll have to make, however, is the corny love story amidst all the chaos. Rob convinces his friends to venture back into ground zero in order to save the one-that-got-away, Beth (Odette Yustman). But thankfully Cloverfield never takes itself too seriously. Or maybe it does, but it’s so much so that we just laugh and enjoy it anyway.