Bad Robot Productions, the production company founded by producer JJ Abrams (Lost, Alias) has debuted their first big screen venture before attempting to reboot the Star Trek franchise later this year.

 CloverfieldFrom the previews you’ve probably guessed this movie is pretty much Godzilla meets Blair Witch.  Well, with that assessment you’d be right (if you also throw in a dash of 28 Days Later).  But it definitely does have the JJ Abrams stamp that will appeal to Lost fans, and disappoint non fans.

 The story is told as if you were watching a completely unedited videotape found by the military as evidence of the event in the area “formerly known as Central Park”.  The tape starts out with a bit of romantic musings of Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth (Odette Yustman). The tape quickly cuts to Rob’s brother and his girlfriend setting up a going away party for Rob who is moving to Japan.  The camera operation quickly sifts to the blabbermouth, and source extreme diarrhea of the mouth, Hud (T.J. Miller). 

 Miller despite his lack of on screen appearance tends to narrate the movie and thus steals most of the film. His overly wordy nature drives the film’s non-visually stimulating points

 Appearing in the main on screen plot is the search for Beth by Rob, Hud, Lilly (Jessica Lucas) and Marlena (Lizzy Caplan).  This part of the movie happens when Beth leaves the party early and leaves a distressed voice mail for Rob on his cell phone.  Much like lost, but creatively done to fit the format of this film, the romance between Beth and Rob is told via flashbacks.  The flashbacks fit in a non Lost-ish gimmick because several times thought the movie the video is rewound and re-cued but off by a few seconds, displaying the previous recording on the tape.

 The visual effects are aided mostly by the camera angles, which were made to look deliberately amateur, but are done in such a way that they belong in a feature film.  For instance it looks as if reaction shots are caught only by accident, but anyone with any filmmaking experience would realize that no shot is done by accident.

 Oh, lest I forget the monster.  Again this visual effect is aided by the camera work. Shaky, long distance shots, much like in Transformers allow for the CGI to fit into the real world without the audience able to focus their eyes enough to catch any glairing visual errors.

 Overall Cloverfield is a better hand-held camera movie than Blair Witch, and a better Godzilla movie than the 1998’s Godzilla movie staring Matthew Broderick.  However for those looking for a true Hollywood disaster ending where everyone looks over the destruction holding hands and saying, “Now we rebuild!”  These people will be disappointed because the ending does not fit the template of the modern disaster film. Short, intense and entertaining, this movie makes you feel like you are there when New York gets attacked.

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