20 January 2008

Cloverfield

At ease, no spoilers here.

I feel obligated to add my two cents to the buzz behind the film Cloverfield. Just released last Friday, the movie was #1 in the U.S. weekend box office and even set a record for best release in January history, beating out the 1997 release of Star Wars "special edition."

This movie rocked my damn socks off. As I've stated before, I rarely go to the theater these days, but this one had "SEE ME IN THE THEATER" written all over it. If for no other reason, I went on opening day because I wanted no additional spoilers. There was a fascinating mystery instilled in my head when I saw the trailer. I knew I would enjoy the movie most by not knowing anything else about it. Boy, was I right.

You know a film has done its job if-

(1) you walk out of the theater going "wowowowowowow"
(2) you can't stop thinking about it on the way home, that evening, or the next day
(3) you want to see it again inside of 24 hours

The film is so harrowing that driving home at night through the city made me uneasy. What would I do if the same thing happened to me right now?

About the production itself, I was extremely impressed at the quality of the visuals. In terms of digital effects, I was anticipating low budget because the perspective of the movie is from a video camera. What was delivered blew me away! Low expectations caused already excellent effects to look even better. Planning top budget effects in controlled camera shots is hard enough; to pull it off when the camera is moving about violently is extraordinary.

In terms of camera work, yes, at times the camera is SERIOUSLY SHAKY. Like, cop drama show on caffeine shaky. It's gonna piss a lot of people off, but it worked for me and that's all I care about. Most of the time the camera is under control. Despite all that, I have to give mega kudos to the cinematography team behind Cloverfield. The entire movie is from the perspective of a bystander holding a camera, yet it feels like every single shot in the movie was planned with care. To do that, to show precisely what you want the audience to see AND create this illusion of the character holding the camera is (to me) the single most impressive aspect of the production.

I highly recommend seeing this movie immediately, but only if you aren't turned off by intensely gripping thrills or sci-fi/horror levels of gore. Think Alien, Pan's Labyrinth, or Blair Witch Project (that movie sucked, this one is awesome) if you need a comparison of intensity.

Discuss your opinions of Cloverfield in the comments!

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