(Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (2007) 2008 / Paramount)
Overview: Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.
DVD Verdict: It's been well over a few months since I took my wife and kids to see 'Cloverfield' at the local cineplex. My wife, who is generally hard to please, liked it. But, she thought the shaky hand held camera work detracted from the overall experience. Both my pre teen children loved it. They seemed generally terrified at all the right parts and ate their popcorn in a most hypnotic manner. My reaction was only slightly more nuanced. I liked the movie, but I just felt like there was too much missing.
Now out on DVD and handed to me for review, my biggest complaint is still the camerawork. All the jerky movements and blurred shots got old after the first five minutes. I was bored to tears watching poorly shot asphalt and off kilter shots of running feet. Let's face it, it's a gimmick. The subpar cinematography does not enhance the theatre going experience.
The plot of 'Cloverfield' (or what passes for a plot) revolves around an extremely attractive group of twenty-somethings who brave impossible odds to rescue the male lead's ex-girlfriend. In a major suspension of belief, they head towards the center of the city as a gigantic mutant ravages New York, eating people and knocking down skyscrapers.<>
This brings me to my next point. Cloverfield's script borders on incoherence because it explains nothing. And, believe it or not, this is what fascinates me the most about this movie. The main plot points and explanations do not exist in the movie. They exist on the internet.
The producers of 'Cloverfield' have set up a series of internet sites that provide the answers to most of the questions posed in the film. Now these sites all fit into the mythos that the makers of 'Cloverfield' have created. The sites include on line comic books, fake Japanese corporations, soft drink ads and more. If you visit all these sites and take in all the content provided therein the movie will suddenly come into focus. This is ironic considering how out of focus the actual movie is.
The producers of 'Cloverfield' have taken the "Blair Witch" concept and taken it up a notch. This is not a film release in the classical sense...this is a true multi media event taking full advantage of the internet. Maybe that's why it is hard for me to like this film. It takes personal time and investment to truly appreciate it. You can't just sit in the theatre and watch the movie, not if you want to understand what's going on. You have to research it. You have to invest time and effort outside of the movie going experience.
It has become clear just how conflicted I am regarding this movie. After visiting the connected internet sites I now understand the movie and what it's about. So I'm enjoying the movie more after the fact. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that's a good thing. Therein, the film deserves something decent said about it if nothing else for the sheer innovation of its packaging! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
The Making-of 'Coverfield'
Featurettes: Cloverfield Visual Effects; I Saw It! It's Alive! It's Huge; Clover Fun
Commentary by Director Matt Reeves
Hidden Research Into Case Designate 'Cloverfield' ... ie: Easter Eggs! Slusho!; Person of Interest - JLVD Video 2; Person of Interest - JLVD Video 5; Person of Interest - JLVD Video 9; Person of Interest - JLVD Video 11; Rack 'Em & Pack 'Em; and Fighting the X.
With this release comes four fantastic retail exclusives! Below, you will find details and article work on these four exciting, exclusive offers!
Suncoast & FYE - Limited edition swank steel book collectible packaging
Best Buy - Bonus Disc entitled "TJ Miller's Video Diary," containing almost 30 minutes of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage with "Hud"
Kmart & Sears - Get a free Cloverfield Ringtone
Target - Target Deluxe Edition includes "Rob's Goin' To Japan Party Mix" music CD