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Monday, 28 February 2011

Film Review - Cloverfield (2008)

Fig. 1 Cloverfield Film Poster

"Cloverfield" is an American disaster/monster film directed by Matt Reeves, produced by J. J. Abrams in 2008 lasting 80 minutes. "Cloverfield" was directed so that the viewer can feel the confusion and fear the characters experience as they’re running through the streets, with the lack of any explanation of what this creature could be or the fact that we see little of it, which makes it all that more scarier and creepier.

Fig. 2 Cloverfield Film Still 

"Cloverfield" director Matt Reeves has created an abnormality, a visceral monster movie that doesn't overly concern itself with its actual monster. The filmmaker certainly doesn't go out of his way to show his beast. Not because he doesn't want to, but because he can't. That's not the movie he decided to tell." (O'Connell, 2008) Cloverfield tells the story of Rob Hawkins a twenty-something New Yorker who’s brother, Jason and girlfriend Lily decide to throw a surprise leaving party for him, as he is due to leave and start a new job in Japan. Their friend, Hudson is assigned the task of documenting the big evening on video. A task which he accepts only because it gives him the chances to talk to Marlena, the object of his affections. The party is a rousing success until Beth, the love of Rob’s life, arrives with a date. Angry words are exchanged between the two and she leaves.

Fig. 3 Cloverfield Film Still 

Shortly after Beth’s angry departure, an explosion rocks Manhattan and the city erupts into chaos. Uncertain at first what has taken place; they all go out side onto the streets to find out what is going on. They become aware that the city is being attacked by a massive creature, and they follow the crowds of people who are attempting to escape the city by foot. When Rob receives a frantic phone call from Beth, who is injured and trapped in her apartment, he decides that he cannot leave without her. He returns to the city, followed by the others, uncertain of her fate – or their own. Filmed from the perspective of Hud’s handheld recorder, Cloverfield offers a "first-hand" account of the destruction of New York City. The film offers the viewer a continuous depiction of the evening’s events. With the exception of occasional snippets of Rob and Beth, which we later learn that Hud had accidentally taped over footage of their last time together.

Fig. 4 Cloverfield Film Still 

"Is this attack so terrifying because it has obvious shades of 9/11 or because the handheld camerawork leaves us disoriented, glimpsing the enormous creature only when Hud’s view quivers that way?. It’s both." (Richards, 2008) In "Cloverfield" the first-person perspective is used to amp up the realism and with the shaky cam images can be seen as a passing resemblance to 9/11. "Cloverfield" has several images throughout that have the resemblances of the videos and photography’s that captured the events of September 11th attack in New York. The plume of smoke and dust rolling up the street as a building collapses, the pandemonium of the crowds, the fear of the survivors as they take refuge in open buildings. "Cloverfield" also offers the destruction of other famous iconic landmarks such as the decapitated of the Statue of Liberty and a devastated of Brooklyn Bridge.

Fig. 5 Cloverfield Film Still 
Added with this "documentary" style of filming is of course not new and very few films have used the revolutionary filmmaking technique, making an entire film that was shot from a first person camera. In was in 1999 with "The Blair Witch Project", which was so successful that it brought this type of filmmaking to the mainstream and "It took nine years for the cinematic seeds planted by The Blair Witch Project in 1999 to come to full fruition as Cloverfield." ( Yapp, 2008) With this handheld camera technique it brings a sense of immediacy to "Cloverfield" that couldn't be captured in any other way. There's an intensity that couldn't be achieved in any other way, the viewers are not looking at them from a safe distance, and they are looking at them as if they were there with them.

Fig. 6 Cloverfield Film Still 
  List Of Illustrations

Figure. 1 Cloverfield (2008) Cloverfield Film Poster (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Figure. 2 Cloverfield (2008) Cloverfield Still. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Figure. 3 Cloverfield (2008) Cloverfield Still. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Figure. 4 Cloverfield (2008) Cloverfield Still. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Figure. 5 Cloverfield (2008) Cloverfield Still. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Figure. 6 Cloverfield (2008) Cloverfield Still. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)

O'Connell, Sean (2008) Cloverfield. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Richards, Olly (2008) Cloverfield. (Accessed on 28/02/2011)
Nate (2008) Cloverfield (2008). (Accessed on 28/02/2011)

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