In the words of Public Enemy, “Don’t Believe the Hype.” The trailer for Cloverfield will undoubtedly pique your interest as you watch New Yorkers flee some unseen Godzillaesque thing. Curiosity is sometimes enough to get you to the theater, I can dig it. A lot of people were suckered, because I see that Cloverfield is #1 at the box office, but if you listen to me, I can save you a trip and a few dollars as well.
Producer JJ Abrams (Mission: Impossible III) brings us the “real” account of an attack on NYC shown from the perspective of a group of friends. The prinicpal character is Rob, and it is at his going away party where the real action begins. The party is videotaped by Rob’s friend Hud, who wants to get an account of everyone’s well-wishes. There is a little drama as Rob’s ex-girlfriend Beth shows up accompanied by her new boyfriend. This is interesting because the movie begins with Rob filming Beth one month prior to the party, and they appear to be very much in love. Anyway, everyone is at the party having a good enough time until a thunderous boom brings the festivities to a jarring halt. Everyone goes to the roof, where in the distance they can see explosions and objects being hurled against buildings. In the streets, the scene is eerily reminiscent of 9/11, as pedestrians flee from huge plumes of smoke and ash, their faces masks of fear and bewilderment. Rob, his brother Jason and girlfriend Lilly, Hud, and a girl named Marlena all set out for the Brooklyn bridge. Rob wants to find Beth, who left the party eariler. Mind you, Manhattan is in a state of utter pandemonium. I do find the depiction of unbridled chaos to be strangely fascinating, but the movie quickly wears thin as it deteriorates into exactly what it is: a regular old, DUMB ASS horror movie, complete with stupid decisions made by the main characters. Hud does break up the tense atmosphere with funny commentary, but is isn’t enough to salvage the movie.
Cloverfield comes in a slick package, but in the end you will be disappointed as the unique premise does not remain plausible. For example, why the hell is Hud still filming everything, is this believable? I don’t know, I guess you can never underestimate the human capacity for stupidity, but still. Catch it on Netflix.