I once said I Am Sam is the best example of an Amazingly Good Trailer For A Movie That Turned Out To Be Pure Shit.
That title has now been passed to Cloverfield.
In July, producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, the Star Trek reboot) teased audiences with a stunning preview featuring a digital camera capturing New York under attack from God Know’s What, culminating in a Holy Shit! moment as the head of the Statue of Liberty came flying through the sky and landed on a sidewalk.
There was no title, no list of actors, just a date: 1-18-08.
Immediately, the Internet started buzzing as movie-goers became curious as to what exactly was happening in this upcoming film. Speculation ran rampant, and before long, the clever marketing folks had would-be fans searching for clues. Possible story lines ranged from mythological creatures invading Earth to yet another Godzilla remake.
If only we’d been so lucky.
Apparently, Abrams couldn’t afford the rights to Godzilla, so the filmmakers opted instead to make a lame rip-off that’s far too pathetic to even be called an homage. Three weeks into 2008, and we already have a strong candidate for the worst film of the year.
Cloverfield is nothing but a gimmick – shaky motion from a handheld digital camera – that was unique in 1999 with The Blair Witch Project but is nothing more than a way to save money on the special effects budget here. By placing the action on this amateur camera, the film can avoid any fantastic shots of the monster and mayhem. Instead, we get it darting here and there, at least as much as a gigantic creature can dart in and around Manhattan.
Cloverfield misfires on so many levels. We don’t care about the characters, making it hard to get emotional when the monster attacks them. Ten minutes into the unbearably talky beginning of the film, I was already rooting for the monster to come in and do whatever was necessary to shut these brats up.
The movie tried to be scary. It failed.
The movie tried to be funny at times. It failed.
About the only thing it succeeded at was being short, although at 75 minutes, it still felt about 70 minutes too long.
Another MAJOR problem with Cloverfield is that there is absolutely no explanation for any of it. A gigantic monster just suddenly comes from nowhere, apparently craps out little monsters, and unleashes all sorts of terror throughout New York City, but there is no basis for any of it. Back in Godzilla’s day, Japanese filmmakers made it in response to the atomic age. Cloverfield might as well be a reaction to Mike Huckabee; that’s as good of an explanation of any from the film (which as I said, and I can’t stress this enough, there is none given).
Oh, I should also note there is some incredibly lame dialog in Cloverfield, including some unnecessary romance as the world comes to an end. I’m sorry, but if a giant monster starts attacking Georgetown, I’m not going to worry about my love life. Instead, I’ll be getting the hell out of town. If I make it out in one piece, I’ll call you once I’m safe. Until then, please forgive my silence as I run from this Godforsaken-zilla.