Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Cloverfield

Today, reporting from Galway after a long and arduous week of attempting to keep up with the latest films, sit on a couch and (attempting to) maintain my temper with occasionally annoying family members attached to the hip, yes, The Thin White Dude has finally found a computer through which he can vent his long, repressed fury at the latest batch from the fruit of what the call "cinema(s)" loins. Well, first off the top is Cloverfield, which is a DVD review, which surprisingly, despite being one of the most hyped movies of 2008, seems to have vanished off the Richter scale. You know, I never hear anyone mention this film anymore, and now that it has come to DVD, many have seemingly forgotten about this mystery of a film. Okay, plot outline, big monster in New York. It's that simple, it's all that need's to be said, and it is this simplicity and the film-makers consistency towards it that helps make this film work. Yes, to be honest, I really did enjoy this film. Now, maybe I wasn't disappointed because I completely missed out on the whole Cloverfield hype-fest craze, but either way it is certainly a good, solid piece of film-making. As I mentioned earlier, the film remains consistent and this genuinely pleases me after the recent trend of a lot of Hollywood films which come up with an original idea, and cop out midway and decide "let's blow things up." And, yes I know that the whole film is about that anyway, but it needs to be said that it remains consistent to it's use of this year's big new horror craze, the shock-doc, in which everything is shot Blair Witch-y with a camcorder, from a person's perspective or that of the camera. No, the film does not cop out. For example, there is no music throughout the entire film, which does help keep the audience enveloped in the atmosphere of actually being there as New York is being trashed by a 300-foot monster. Also, the cinematography and special effects in this film are the best that I have seen in many a film in a long time. The cinematography perfectly complements the special effects, which because of the cinematography not revealing too much, makes the effects non-intrusive and thus keeping the viewer concrete-footed into the reality that is created. Also, worthy of mention is the direction of Matt Reeves, whose restrainfulness at never really revealing the monster and helping achieve the most out of his actors in what is effectively an effects-driven movie. Now, this is where I will mention the few flaws that this film has. The acting in my opinion works to a degree for this type of film, but the fact that the screenplay is woven around the monster causes a certain negligence towards the development of the characters in the film, thus giving the actors a limited amount to work with, but admirably they make the most of what they are given. Also, because of this, the overall emotional value of the film is lowered, for we never do really come across to care for the characters onscreen. Maybe with a longer film (it is very short at 81 minutes including credits for a Hollywood film) they could have developed the characters better, in what does seem to be an excuse to develop a plotline around the concept of "big monster in New York." However, I believe that this short running time works in other ways. The film is not overly long, or even too short at that, with the effect of an almost missing reel with the perplexing ending, which is left completely open to viewer interpretation. To sum up, Cloverfield is a very solid, genuinely tense, and even at times terrifying (particularly upon first viewing) film. The atmosphere of the film invites us to witness and almost participate in the characters attempts to escape Manhattan Island from the monster, and it is the creation of this atmosphere for which the entire team of cinematography, special effects artists and director Matt Reeves, who shows true promise and will hopefully continue to make films of this standard in the future.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.4/10

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