If a Godzilla-type monster attacked, what would the event look like from ground zero?

This also doubles as our Weekend Review.

Cast and Crew

Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Drew Goddard

Cast:

Lizzy Caplan as Marlena Diamond
Michael Stahl David as Rob Hawkins
Jessica Lucas as Lily Ford
T.J. Miller as Hud Platt
Odette Yustman as Beth McIntyre
Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins

Full credits available at the imdb.

Premise

When a monster of the kaiju variety attacks contemporary New York City, a group of twenty-somethings record the action while trying to rescue a trapped friend.

High Point

The film takes two genres that have become bad jokes– Kaiju and
Disaster— and makes them scary and compelling.

Low Point

I appreciate the conceit of having the film be Hud’s recording of events, but could he have been slightly more competent with the camera? Seriously, if you’re prone to nausea, pack the gravol. In addition, I want his camcorder, which survives a considerable amount of violence.

I hate to pick nits, but would Lily continue to wear heels for miles of walking and 39 flights of climbing? And if she did, would those heels continue to look pristine?

“Are her heels made of titanium?”

–my wife.

The Review

Originality: 3/6 Blair Witch techniques capture a giant monster invading NYC, with echoes of Alien and Lovecraft. However, the particular blend has a kind of originality.

Effects: 6/6. The effects have been seamlessly integrated. This really looks like camcorder footage of New York under attack by a big honkin’ monster.

Story 4/6. Once the attack starts, the pacing does not relent. Some people will doubtless dislike the lack of context or explanation, but given the premise, the film really can’t provide any. Let’s face it: the explanations in those old Kaiju films never made much sense. I also like Rob’s ambivalent motivation for his actions.

Acting: 6/6. Overall, I could believe in these characters, contemporary twenty-somethings. Ideally I’d give them 5.5, since no one really shone, but they did an excellent job of sustaining the illusion.

I’m pretty sure I was at that party twenty years ago, except we didn’t have cell phones.

We might have been slightly less superficial.

Also, the party didn’t get interrupted by a big honkin’ monster.

Hud’s sporadic humorous lines vary in their success. “That’s something else. Also awful,” made me laugh. His question about Superman just seemed idiotic.

Production 6/6.

Emotional Response: 5/6 In the same way that the original Gojira processed the Japanese reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into a monster movie, this film clearly reflects upon 9-11. We’re aware of that while watching, yet the fact did not feel cheaply exploitive. The best horror films have always been, to some degree, about real-world concerns.

Overall 5/6

In total, Cloverfield receives 35 out of 42.