Film’s shaky camera work still leaves a clear impact

I had a gut-feeling going into this film that I was going to leave the theater disappointed. I’ve been following the Cloverfield hype for quite some time now, through the savvy, viral marketing campaign and through word-of-mouth. Early reviews condemned the film for its non-ending and anti-climatic finish. Leaving the theater, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Cloverfield.

The film follows the simple story of a monster wreaking havoc upon New York City told through the point of a view of a handheld camera, documentary style. The idea of a monster attacking a city has been done before in such classics as Godzilla and King Kong, but director Matt Reeves brings a sense of creativity and originality, adding his unique spin.

The story is told through the sometimes shaky and gritty camera work of Hud (T.J. Miller), a citizen of the city who was originally documenting a going away party for his friend. For a fictional movie, it feels grippingly authentic. The viewers feel like they are in Manhattan during the attack, and there is a haunting sense of realism and urgency, which you don’t see in most films of this genre, or at all, anymore.

The strength of this film lies in the way it was directed.

Reeves’ camera shots and viewpoints are smart and effective.

Throughout the film, you get glimpses of the monster. Its origin is left up to the imagination of the audience, as the cast members allude to their own theories of where it came from. Is it from outer space? Did it come from the ocean? Was it created by the government? It’s not until the end of the film that viewers get a better look at the monster, including an extreme close-up.

I was hoping the monster wasn’t going to look generic, like an insect, and I was happy with the result. The monster looks mean and menacing. It behaves like an angry animal that just had its kin separated from it.

Producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias) came up with the idea for the monster while in a toy store in Japan.

"We saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own (American) monster, and not King Kong," Abrams said in a press release. "King Kong’s adorable; I wanted something that was just insane and intense."

The film draws immediate comparisons to 9/11, as it is filled with images of the city’s buildings and most prominent landmarks being destroyed.

Many critics speculate about whether Abrams and Reeves were trying to make a statement on the justification of modern warfare, when the government’s solution to the monster is to bomb Manhattan into the ocean.

Cloverfield isn’t the first monster movie to draw those theories, as George Romero’s zombie films have also been said to have a deep message between the lines.

If you are looking for a movie with a definite climax, this may not be the film for you. Cloverfield evokes many of the emotions that make us human: fear, isolation, hope and uncertainty.

Out of all the things that work well with Cloverfield, the most important aspect is that it makes movie-going fun again. For 84 minutes, I felt like I was a child watching King Kong for the first time. Let’s hope for a sequel.

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