Well, if you were anywhere near anyone who watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, you've probably heard the news that Netflix is airing a new 'Cloverfield' movie that answers the many questions that this, the original, did not. And in my own, sinister way, I'm kinda sorta happy that it turned out to be a flop. But more on 'The Cloverfield Paradox' later, with it's review tomorrow.
There are two schools of thought on 2008's 'Cloverfield'. One suggests that this was a complete waste of time and money, and or often complaining that this story offered up absolutely no explanation of what the creature was, or where it came from. The second, the one where I come from, sees how groundbreaking this movie was for the time, and enjoy the whole mystery behind the Cloverfield creature's origins. We appreciate the fact that Abrams allowed our imaginations to work, and that we got to discuss it with one another. Let's not forget the amazing ad campaign for this movie that mostly took place online through fake websites. For example, every character had a MySpace page (because it was still a thing back then, just barely dying), and a fake "Slusho" website - a sort of Slushie drink that was often seen on t-shirts and various merchandise in the film. Then of course the trailer had NOTHING TO IT except a brief clip of the Statue of Liberty's head getting thrown across Manhattan and landing in the middle of a street, followed by not a title, but the film's release date splayed on the screen. It was just so interesting and original the way it was all handled, and the mystery is just part of the charm of the movie.
So, what's it about? Here we have a simple case of a found footage film about a group of friends who are caught in the middle of a giant monster rampage in New York City while attempting to rescue a love interest character, and that pretty much sums it up. It's this particular group of friends' experience caught on tape. Being that it's found footage it lends itself to it being "okay" to leave some mystery to it. But that's my opinion, and others vary greatly, and that's perfectly fine. But that's where I tend to stand on it, and it's why I share it as a recommendation.
The cast was more or less unknown at the time, likely recognized for one or two minor roles. Lizzy Caplan, for example, was in 'Mean Girls' by then already, but not much else. Being that found footage was still pretty fresh back then, it may have felt a little more realistic than it does now, where it's kinda obvious that these guys are acting. But that doesn't, at least to me, make it unenjoyable either.
Most of what makes this movie good lies in the mystery experience, and the fact that this was pretty much the first time they added special effects on a grand scale to a found footage film. One has to keep in mind that by January, 2008, 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'Paranormal Activity' were your best examples of the genre - so this was kind of a turning point for found footage. That said, the blame could be placed on this for these types of movies starting to get out of hand. But for that matter, 'The Matrix' can also be blamed for anything "bullet time" that came after it, along with most of Zack Snyder's career. I tend to give it more credit than blame, because it changed things up a bit. Instead of ghosts, they decided to do Godzilla because why the hell not? And since then, we've had a few interesting ones like 'Chronicle' and 'Project X'. Hey, love or hate 'Project X', it was original... kinda... it's a guilty pleasure, leave me alone.
Anyway, this is an easy one to get through if you enjoy the genre and haven't seen this yet. It's at the top of my own personal recommendation list for found footage, and of the three films they've released with a 'Cloverfield' title, I'd have to say this is hands down the most enjoyable. But that's just me. For some, none of these films are gonna cut it, and that's just a matter of taste.