Cloverfield tells the story of a group of young adults in New York City who are trying to survive a monster attack. The film starts with footage of a going-away party for Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David), who is moving to Japan. The camera is operated by Rob’s friend, Hud (T.J. Miller), who captures the events of the night on tape. The first few minutes of the film are spent introducing the characters, including Rob’s ex-girlfriend, Beth (Odette Annable), and her new boyfriend, Travis (Ben Feldman).
Then it all goes to Hell.
The one January movie I remember being targeted by marketing
The film’s marketing campaign was also a major part of its production. The filmmakers went to great lengths to keep the film’s plot and monster a secret, with the marketing materials focusing on the film’s tagline, “Some Thing Has Found Us.” The film’s teaser trailer, which showed the head of the Statue of Liberty being thrown through the streets of New York City, generated a lot of buzz and excitement among audiences.
If that wasn’t enough, Cloverfield was also the first place that anyone got to see the teaser trailer for Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. It was just a shot of the Enterprise in dry dock getting finished, but it was exciting. What does this mean for Cloverfield? Well, it’s more of a comment on how this film and eventually its sequels were packaged.
Back to Cloverfield already in progress
So, the yuppies’ party gets interrupted by a strange breaking news announcement.
They find that a massive creature is wreaking havoc in the city, destroying buildings and causing chaos. The group decides to leave the area and go to Beth’s apartment to retrieve her belongings. Along the way, they encounter other survivors, including a military group that is trying to evacuate the city.
As they make their way through the city, the group faces various challenges, including encountering smaller creatures that are created by the monster’s attack. Along the way, they also receive distress signals from Beth, who is trapped in her apartment building, and Rob decides to go back and rescue her.
Cloverfield is shot as well as a screaming scared person could do it, except for the end.
One of the most striking aspects of Cloverfield is its writing style, which I believe will divide the audience. The film doesn’t follow a traditional linear narrative structure, and the plot unfolds in a fragmented and non-linear fashion. The characters are introduced in a haphazard way, and the story jumps back and forth in time, leaving the audience to piece together the events that led to the monster attack. This writing style might be frustrating and confusing for some viewers, but it adds a layer of complexity and ambiguity that elevates the film beyond a mere monster flick.
As the Cloverfield movies would continue, much of what we see in this first film gives way to more studio-based needs. Hell. John Goodman carries so much of the sequel on his back that it got the Paradox movie greenlit by itself. Care to debate me? Take your diatribe to the smoldering hole that used to be Blockbuster and yell into the crater.
Rewatching American Kaiju for the 50th time
Cloverfield doesn’t rely on traditional exposition or explanation to tell its story. There’s no scene where a scientist explains the origins of the monster or where it came from. Instead, the film trusts the audience to fill in the gaps and interpret the events based on what they see on screen. This approach is refreshing and daring, and it encourages active engagement and participation from the audience. However, it’s also a risky move, as some viewers might find the lack of explanation frustrating or unsatisfying.
Despite its unconventional storytelling approach, Cloverfield still manages to deliver some thrilling and terrifying monster action scenes. The monster itself is a towering and grotesque creature that evokes a sense of primal fear and awe. The film also does an excellent job of showing the human cost of such an attack, and we see the characters struggling to survive in a city that’s being destroyed and overrun by a monster. This approach humanizes the story and makes the audience care about the characters and their fate.
Moreover, Cloverfield also uses its monster attack premise to explore deeper themes and ideas. The film can be seen as a commentary on the dangers of unchecked scientific experimentation or as a metaphor for the anxieties and fears of post-9/11 America. The film’s fragmented narrative and ambiguous storytelling style also lend themselves to multiple interpretations and readings, making Cloverfield a rich and rewarding film for those who enjoy dissecting and analyzing movies.
What does it all mean currently?
Cloverfield is a polarizing and controversial film that challenges the conventions of the monster attack sub-genre. Its unconventional storytelling approach and lack of exposition might frustrate some viewers, but it also adds a layer of complexity and ambiguity that elevates the film beyond a mere monster flick. Cloverfield is a unique take on the monster attack genre that offers thrilling action scenes, a terrifying monster, and deeper themes and ideas to explore. It’s a must-watch for sci-fi and horror film fans who crave something different and daring.
The 15th Anniversary 4K Steelbook comes with many of the special features from the seemingly out of print 4K from 2018. The deleted scenes and the alternate ending are all there. What’s interesting is that the commentary is also on the 4K disc, but does it matter as an audio commentary? Oh well, pick it up if you’re a Steelbook collector or missed the 2018 4K UHD.
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