It seems like a great idea: a post-9/11 disaster flick with aliens. After watching the emotional footage from Ground Zero, much of it shot by average people, it’s easy to see how that could inspire a new style of cinematography for narrative film. Combine that with America’s love for action movies (as evidenced by Transformers) and you should have the formula for an amazing film.
Unfortunately, Matt Reeves‘ Cloverfield begins like an episode of The Hills and leaves viewers emotionally unattached from the characters and the so-called plot. With a film that has been marketed as a different kind of action/disaster movie, it’s such a let down to hear the same dialogue rife with banality and cliche movie acts of heroism as every other over-the-top explosion film.
As if that wasn’t enough, visually the movie looks like the cinematography was done by Britney Spears a la her homemade reality show Chaotic. Where Blair Witch Project engaged views with it’s hand-held style, Cloverfield is so filled with rapid camera movements that it feels more like a nauseating ocular assault. Several people in the theater were shielding their eyes during the film, not out of fear or suspense, but because they started to feel motion sickness from the constant jumbled up shots from the perspective of a guy running with a camera.
The hype surrounding this film and the spectacular trailer gave me very high hopes for Cloverfield. It’s too bad that the trailer contains nearly every watchable part. Aside from the subway sequence, the only time I liked the film was when the camera was still enough to focus on a subject; too bad that was less than 20% of the movie.
Even the much anticipated monster was clearly visible for only a matter of seconds. Frankly, that’s just not fair. Don’t make me sit through a movie that feels like 90 minutes on a nauseating tilt-a-whirl only to short change me in the monster department.
The highlight of this movie going experience has nothing to do with Cloverfield. Instead, what I most enjoyed was seeing the trailer for Jon Favreau‘s Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. About 20 minutes into the actual feature, I realized that trailer was about as good as it was going to get for the night.
Like I said, it seems like a great idea.