“It’s 6:42 AM on Saturday, May 23rd. Approximately seven hours ago, some… thing attacked the city. I don’t know what it is. If you found this tape, I mean if you’re watching this right now, then you probably know more about it than I do.”
As so many of us take on “dry January” as a brief pause from all the alcohol we consumed during the holidays, January isn’t much different for movies. The dry spell that is January for theaters is mostly because the award season nominees have already gotten their films out into the world, and blockbusters usually wait for late spring and summer. So long story short, there are rarely any must-see movies during this time. But if you’re lucky, you just might find a certain diamond in the rough… or at least something that’s rewatchable from time to time. That specific gem happens to be 2008’s, Cloverfield.
Celebrating its 15th Anniversary, Cloverfield is a modern-day found footage film. For those who remember the 1990s, it’s much like the Blair Witch Project (1999). On the night of Rob’s going away party, a massive creature terrorizes New York City—leaving death and destruction in its wake. When the gang of friends realize that their other friend, Beth—who left the party early—is in the creature’s path, they change their plans from getting out of Manhattan to rescuing her. However, their path is not easy, as they’re confronted with explosions, military firefight, large poisonous insects, and of course, the monstrous creature that’s ready to kill them at any moment.
You have to realize that the craze of mysterious things in the night comes off the heels of the pop-culture phenomenon, LOST, which explains producer J.J. Abrams attachment to this sci-fi project. There’s even a brief logo of LOST’s DHARMA Initiative that’s shown at the beginning of the film. And although some LOST fans would have loved Abrams to be at the helm of the project—giving us a sci-fi film rich with theories—it was director Matt Reeves who was brought on to take over the reins.
Reeves has sure gone on to bigger things from here. With his latest film, The Batman, it’s been interesting to see his progression in filmmaking over the past 15 years. While Cloverfield is clearly not his best, it’s hard to purely examine something when the camera is constantly shaking back and forth. Afterall, I would say most of his clear achievement in the action genre would probably be from the newer Planet of the Apes movies.
But we’re not really here to examine the directing, or at least not to a great extent. The point of Cloverfield was that it seems like it was a film put on the backburner, released to just get it out to the masses. I conveniently remember when it came out, but I never saw it in theaters. In my time watching it over the years, as well as others, it has gained a cult following—finally realizing that maybe it wasn’t as dumb as we perceived it to be. Cloverfield is intense from nearly start to finish. And though the story hangs onto a romantic storyline, it’s never overly sappy and there’s definitely more than enough action to quench that thirst.
Spawning two more films in the franchise, 10 Cloverfield Lane and Cloverfield Paradox, no one can say that this film isn’t even slightly entertaining. It’s the definition of popcorn fun. While there are some basic flaws within the film, I can’t complain. Pop in this movie, grab some pizza, pump up the soundbar or surround sound, because you’re going to be in for a monster of a good time.
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Odette Annable, Mike Vogel, and Lizzy Caplan