Synopsis: A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.
There was a point in time where I generally detested found footage movies even if the premise was something naturally appealing to me the moment I found out it was taking the found footage approach I’d work myself up into an inconsolable rage. My general frame of thinking would always be why would I waste my time trying to enjoy one of these when all I want to do is walk up to the person working the camera and tell them to take a few deep breaths, calm your nerves and just hold the damn thing steady. It is sort of difficult to find any entertainment value when you walk into a movie theater the lights go dim and then all of a sudden the camera starts shaking wildly and you have to run to the nearest bathroom because motion sickness gets the better of you. I mean doesn’t that sound like an absolute wonderful night out at the movies? You come home and your friends/family/loved ones ask how the film was and you’re like oh it was pretty entertaining up until the point where I almost redecorated the floor of the cinema with the lunch I had this afternoon. Over time my feelings have began to simmer as I found the best way to view the found footage genre is through the comfort of your own living room television set (quite the revolutionary concept, isnt it?). No matter the consensus the shaky cam technique has left its mark transitioning into action films like the Jason Bourne series and will most likely continue to be a thorn in the side of those who wish film makers would lock the camera down in one stationary position until the final credits roll.
Its no secret that I live and breath Kaiju (giant monster) movies so long as there is a giant creature rising out of the earth finding its way towards civilization and toppling over humongous skyscrapers reigning down chaos and destruction I’m front and center. Cloverfield remained out of my collection until I came across it in the value DVD bin and thought to myself you’re too good of a deal to pass up but I’ll never find any tolerable way to get any sort of fulfillment out of you. Then a strange thing happened one night out of the blue (to quote Doc Brown) I figured what the hell popped the disc in the Blu-ray player and hit play. I managed to make it through the movie and to my complete and utter surprise I said to myself you know what this really isn’t half bad. Yes the shaky cam can be a bit irritating however keeping the point of view solely from the perspective of a group of people witnessing a monster attack at the very moment it happens is something that up until 2008 had never been done before. I really didn’t care for having a bland love story as the jumping off point but where the saving grace takes form is with the comedic relief in a great character actor by the name of T.J. Miller. The footage is shot from his point of view and he’s always keeping the mood light through his witty banter. There’s a point where his group of friends are walking in a subway tunnel and he brings up an incident that happened years prior to the monster attack where a maniac was lighting hobos on fire in the very same area. It’s probably the most sporadic line of dialogue in the entire film and part of me wonders if Miller ended up throwing that line out there in a random take to see how the rest of the cast and crew would react. Regardless I have a newfound respect for Cloverfield that I didn’t when it initially hit. It takes some splintered elements from Godzilla and Gamera and presents them for the modern generation who are constantly documenting things on the fly then minutes later upload the footage for the entire world to see warts and all.
Final Grade: B