Cloverfield (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 84 January 18, 2008
By Scott Foundas
It's taken just over six years for the idea of an escapist disaster movie set on the streets of New York City to go from pop-culture anathema to hotly anticipated commercial commodity. Cloverfield begins with a going-away fete for Rob (Michael Stahl-David), an upwardly mobile twentysomething about to leave New York, and it's the conceit of the movie that we see the teary-eyed farewells — along with the monster invasion that follows — through the lens of a video camera wielded by Rob's goofball friend Hud (T.J. Miller). Whiplash-inducing pans and tilts, herky-jerky zooms and random jump cuts are the order of the day here, and somewhere around reel two, il mostro makes his belated appearance, shooting fireballs over the skyline and downing the Brooklyn Bridge. The topicality of the top-secret Cloverfield (which first appeared on buzzometers when an untitled teaser played before screenings of Transformers last summer) is hardly lost on the film's producer and chief creative personality, J.J. Abrams. It's clear that Abrams has consciously aligned himself with those filmmakers — George Romero, Steven Spielberg — who have used the template of the monster-invasion B-movie as a stealth vessel for social commentary. But whereas those directors had something meaningful to say about the state of the world — and the state of human nature — Abrams doesn't have much to say about anything.
Matt Reeves Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T. J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman Drew Goddard J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk Paramount

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