Cloverfield is a 2008 American monster movie directed by Matt Reeves and produced by J. J. Abrams. The film was first publicized as a teaser trailer during screenings of Transformers; however, the trailers never listed the title of the movie and only provided its release date, "01.18.08".
Paramount Pictures carried out a large viral marketing campaign in order to promote the film prior to its theatrical release. Cloverfield was finally released on January 17, 2008, in New Zealand and Australia, on January 18 in North America, and on February 1 in the United Kingdom.
The film is presented as found footage from a personal video camera recovered by the United States Department of Defense. A disclaimer text states that the footage is of a case designated "Cloverfield" and was found in the area "formerly known as Central Park". The video consists primarily of segments taped the night of Friday, May 22, 2009. Occasionally, older segments are shown from a previous video that was mostly taped over.
Of the latter type is the first video segment, which shows Rob waking up on the morning of Monday, April 27 having slept with Beth, a previously platonic friend. They make plans to go to Coney Island that day. The footage cuts to May 22, when Rob's brother Jason and his girlfriend Lily prepare a farewell party for Rob, who will be moving to Japan. Their friend Hud uses the camera to film testimonials.
After Beth leaves the party, an apparent earthquake strikes, and the city suffers a brief power outage. The local news reports an oil tanker capsized near Liberty Island. When the party-goers leave the building, they see the heavily damaged head of the Statue of Liberty hurled into the street. Hud records what appears to be a large creature several blocks away. The monster causes the Woolworth Building to collapse. Later, during the evacuation of the city, a gigantic tail destroys the Brooklyn Bridge, also killing Jason. News reports show the Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division attacking the monster, and smaller "parasite" creatures falling off its body and attacking nearby people.
Rob listens to a phone message from Beth saying she is trapped in her apartment and unable to move. Going against the crowd, Rob, Hud, Lily, and Marlena (another party guest) venture to Midtown Manhattan to rescue Beth. They get caught in a fight between the monster and the army, and run into the Spring Street station, where they get attacked by several of the "parasite" creatures inside the subway tunnel, and Marlena is bitten. They enter the 59th Street station, where they exit the subway. They come across a command center and field hospital, where Marlena dies from the bite. One of the military leaders tells the group when the last evacuation helicopter will depart before the military executes its "Hammer Down Protocol", which will destroy Manhattan.
The group rescues Beth, who was impaled on an exposed rebar. The four make their way to the evacuation site, where they encounter the monster once more over Grand Central Terminal. Lily is raced into a departing Marine Corps helicopter. Moments later, Rob, Beth, and Hud are taken away in a second helicopter and witness a U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomb the monster. The monster falls, then lunges at the helicopter, causing it to crash into Central Park.
The film skips to Saturday, May 23 (less than an hour later), with a voice on the crashed helicopter's radio warning that the Hammer Down protocol will begin in 15 minutes. The three friends regain consciousness and flee the helicopter, but the creature appears and bites Hud in half, killing him.
Rob and Beth grab the camera and take shelter under Greyshot Arch in Central Park as air raid sirens begin to blare and bombing starts. Rob and Beth take turns leaving their last testimony of the events. The bridge crumbles and, the camera gets knocked out of Rob's hand, getting buried beneath some rubble, (though Rob is still visible on screen). As the air raid approaches, Rob and Beth each proclaim their love for each other just as New York is destroyed, killing the two as the camera goes static.
The film then cuts to the footage of Rob and Beth's Coney Island date on April 27. In the distance, unnoticed by them, something falls from the sky into the ocean (not visible in the TV release due to reframing). Rob turns the camera back towards him and Beth, and then zooms in on Beth's face. She says "I had a good day." Then the tape freezes and cuts to black.
List of deaths Edit
The following list shows the death scenes in the film "Cloverfield". All deaths are caused by Clover.
|Name||Cause of Death||Killer||On Screen||Notes|
|Jason Hawkins||Crushed by Clover the monster's tail||Cloverfield Monster||Yes||Partially|
People in Brooklin Bridge
|Crushed or fell off the bridge||Cloverfield Monster||No|
|Marlena Diammond||Bitten by parasite/chest exploded||Parasite||No||Behind a tent|
|Pilot in Helicopter||Unknown||Cloverfield Monster||No||Possibly|
|Hud Platt||Bit in half||Cloverfield Monster||Yes||Partially|
|Cloverfield Monster||Incinerated in Manhattan explosion||US Army||No||Possibly|
|Rob Hawkins and Beth McIntyre||Incinerated in Manhattan explosios||US Army||No||Possibly|
- Michael Stahl-David as Robert Hawkins
- Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins
- Odette Yustman as Beth McIntyre
- Lizzy Caplan as Marlena Diamond
- Jessica Lucas as Lily Ford
- T. J. Miller as Hudson Platt
To prevent the leaking of plot information, instead of auditioning the actors with scenes from the film, scripts from Abrams's previous productions were used, such as television series Alias. Some scenes were also written specifically for the audition process, not intended for use in the film. Despite not being told the premise of the film, Lizzy Caplan stated that she accepted a role in Cloverfield solely because she was a fan of the Abrams-produced television series Lost, and her experience of discovering its true nature initially caused her to state that she would not sign on for a film in the future "without knowing full well what it is." She indicated that her character was a sarcastic outsider, and that her role was "physically demanding.
J. J Abrams conceived of a new monster after he and his son visited a toy store in Japan. He explained, "We saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own monster, and not King Kong, King Kong's adorable. I wanted something that was just insane and intense. In February 2007, Paramount Pictures secretly greenlit Cloverfield, to be produced by Abrams, directed by Matt Reeves, and written by Drew Goddard. The project was produced by Abrams' company, Bad Robot Productions. The poster for Escape from New York (1981) inspired the scene of the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty in Cloverfield.
The casting process was carried out in secret, with no script being sent out to candidates. With production estimated to have a budget of $30 million, filming began in mid-June in New York. One cast member indicated that the film would look like it cost $150 million, despite producers not casting recognizable and expensive actors. Location filming, shot in digital video using hand-held video cameras, took place on Coney Island, with scenes being shot at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and the B&B Carousel. Some interior shots were filmed on a soundstage at Downey, California. The film was edited to look like it was filmed with one hand-held camera, including jump cuts similar to ones found in home movies. Director Matt Reeves described the presentation, "We wanted this to be as if someone found a Handicam, took out the tape and put it in the player to watch it. What you're watching is a home movie that then turns into something else." Reeves explained that the pedestrians documenting the severed head of the Statue of Liberty with the camera phones was reflective of the contemporary period. "Cloverfield very much speaks to the fear and anxieties of our time, how we live our lives. Constantly documenting things and putting them up on YouTube, sending people videos through e-mail - we felt it was very applicable to the way people feel now," the director said.
The decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty was inspired by the poster of the 1981 film Escape from New York, which had shown the head lying in the streets in New York despite not appearing in the film itself. According to Reeves, "It's an incredibly provocative image. And that was the source that inspired [producer] J.J. [Abrams] to say, 'Now this would be an interesting idea for a movie.
The film was titled Cloverfield from the beginning, but the title changed throughout production before it was finalized as the original title. Matt Reeves explained that the title was changed frequently due to the hype caused by the teaser trailer, "That excitement spread to such a degree that we suddenly couldn't use the name anymore. So we started using all these names like Slusho and Cheese. And people always found out what we were doing!" The director said that "Cloverfield" was the government's case designate for the monster, comparing the titling to that of the Manhattan Project. "And it's not a project per se. It's the way that this case has been designated. That's why that is on the trailer, and it becomes clearer in the film. It's how they refer to this phenomenon [or] this case," said the director. Visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett and his company Tippett Studio were enlisted to develop the visual effects for Cloverfield. Since the visual effects were incorporated after filming, cast members had to react to a non-existent creature during scenes, only being familiar with early conceptual renderings of the beast
Cloverfield received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 77% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 196 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "A sort of Blair Witch Project crossed with Godzilla, Cloverfield is economically paced, stylistically clever, and filled with scares. According to Metacritic, the film has received an average score of 64, based on 37 reviews.Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle called the film "the most intense and original creature feature I've seen in my adult moviegoing life [...] a pure-blood, grade A, exhilarating monster movie." He cites Matt Reeves' direction, the "whip-smart, stylistically invisible" script and the "nearly subconscious evocation of our current paranoid, terror-phobic times" as the keys to the film's success, saying that telling the story through the lens of one character's camera "works fantastically well". Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter called it "chillingly effective", generally praising the effects and the film's "claustrophobic intensity". He said that though the characters "aren't particularly interesting or developed", there was "something refreshing about a monster movie that isn't filled with the usual suspects". Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly said that the film was "surreptitiously subversive, [a] stylistically clever little gem", and that while the characters were "vapid, twenty-something nincompoops" and the acting "appropriately unmemorable", the decision to tell the story through amateur footage was "brilliant". Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that the film is "pretty scary at times" and cites "unmistakable evocations of 9/11". He concludes that "all in all, it is an effective film, deploying its special effects well and never breaking the illusion that it is all happening as we see it".
Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film an "old-fashioned monster movie dressed up in trendy new threads", praising the special effects, "nihilistic attitude" and "post-9/11 anxiety overlay", but said, "In the end, [it's] not much different from all the marauding creature features that have come before it". Scott Foundas of LA Weekly was critical of the film's use of scenes reminiscent of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and called it "cheap and opportunistic". He suggested that the film was engaging in "stealth" attempts at social commentary and compared this unfavorably to the films of Don Siegel, George A. Romero and Steven Spielberg, saying, "Where those filmmakers all had something meaningful to say about the state of the world and [...] human nature, Abrams doesn't have much to say about anything". Manohla Dargis in the New York Times called the allusions "tacky", saying, "[The images] may make you think of the attack, and you may curse the filmmakers for their vulgarity, insensitivity or lack of imagination", but that "the film is too dumb to offend anything except your intelligence". She concludes that the film "works as a showcase for impressively realistic-looking special effects, a realism that fails to extend to the scurrying humans whose fates are meant to invoke pity and fear but instead inspire yawns and contempt." Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com calls the film "badly constructed, humorless and emotionally sadistic", and sums up by saying that the film "takes the trauma of 9/11 and turns it into just another random spectacle at which to point and shoot". Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune warned that the viewer may feel "queasy" at the references to September 11, but that "other sequences [...] carry a real jolt" and that such tactics were "crude, but undeniably gripping". He called the film "dumb", but "quick and dirty and effectively brusque", concluding that despite it being "a harsher, more demographically calculating brand of fun", he enjoyed the film. Bruce Paterson of Cinephilia described the film as "a successful experiment in style but not necessarily a successful story for those who want dramatic closure". Some critics also pointed out the similarity to the Half-Life video game series, in particular the "Ant-lion" monsters from Half-Life 2, and the constant first-person perspective.
Empire magazine named it the fifth best film of 2008. The French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma named the film as the third best of 2008. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film number twenty in their list of the "Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade", with the article calling the film "A brilliant conceit, to be sure, backed by a genius early marketing campaign that followed the less-is-more philosophy to tantalizing effect... much like Blair Witch nearly ten years earlier, Cloverfield helped prove, particularly in its first half hour, that what you don't see can be the scariest thing of all." The film was nominated for four awards: two Saturn Awards for "Best Supporting Actress (Lizzy Caplan)" and "Best Science Fiction Film" and two Golden Trailer Awards for "Best Thriller for Trailer" and "Most Original Trailer". The film went on to win a Saturn Award for "Best Science Fiction Film". It was also ranked #12 on Bravo's 13 Scarier Movie Moments.
The Monster EditMany theories and speculations circled the internet as to what the monster looked like. One of the films "grasps" was not showing the monster during the previews and very little during the actual movie. Causing a great deal of speculation, from this secretly being a "Godzilla sequel" referring to the 1998 film by TriStar, to an odd possible red-herring drawing of a gigantic whale like Kaiju that circulated on the net.
The reactions to the actual creature are rather mixed. While many Kaiju fans praise the monster's unique design and extreme resistance to heavy weaponry, others despise it due to its bizarre appearance and lack of intelligence. Many have compared the monster's design from everything to Ebirah, the creature in WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3, to many of the monsters from the Godzilla animated series sequel to the 1998 Godzilla movie, the creature from The Host and even Orga.
In the bonus features of the DVD it is revealed that the monster is supposed to be a baby that was frightened and trying to survive, and the Parasites its sheds are part of a "Post-Birth Ritual".
- Cloverfield at the Internet Movie Database
- Cloverfield at AllMovie
- Cloverfield at Rotten Tomatoes
- Cloverfield at Wikipedia
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