Rama’s Screen: A Film Review of Cloverfield

Welcome to our weekly column by YSN member and movie aficionado Rama Tampubolon. He runs the movie review and discussion blog, Rama’s Screen, and was featured in “United 300,” which won for “Best Spoof” at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. He’ll discuss the latest hot topics and movie reviews every Thursday on Waste Time Wisely.

Cloverfield, the most talked about movie since the teaser premiered last year attached to Transformers, has arrived and to be real with you… it doesn’t live up to the hype.

I’m aware that most people are already cheering about how unconventional this movie looks and feels, but if I said the same thing, I’d be lying. Handheld-camera action film-making is becoming more and more of a trend these days. I personally hope it’s just a phase that soon will die so that steady camera work can come back to regain its throne. Cloverfield is a fun, wild ride for those of you who love movie watching experiences that make you feel like a part of the movie, like you’re running around in the sequence with the characters. For those of you who hate that particular method, then this movie will still be a ride… to hell.

The premise: A small group of people are having a farewell party for their friend when suddenly something attacks New York City and they are forced to run to their friend’s apartment to rescue her. This event is documented in an amateur video camera.

As far as the set, the props and some of the visuals, they’re pretty awesome. The way director Matt Reeves and his crew managed to create a chaotic, messy Manhattan has left me speechless — from the stunning view of the downtown explosions to the realistic look of Lady Liberty’s head crash landing on a New York public road to how the monster appears nothing like what people have assumed these past few months. I do, however, wish the handheld camera technique wasn’t used that often. At times, because the camera’s all over the place, you don’t know what’s going on and you can’t see all the surprises.

I loathe the storyline. These few people are the only ones the camera mostly focuses on and they’re boring. In a way, I can understand the bad acting because they actors needed to represent real life but I wish they would have spent more time out on the streets where the action is so we could see the fighting and how it all goes down.

I am, however, very impressed with the sound mixing and the sound editing. Every firepower, the monster’s scream, the noises of buildings, cars and helicopters… the sound is simply great.

This whole shaky camera business makes me dizzy, literally. My little cousin could hold the camera like that and come up with better results.

When I saw the trailer last year I thought whatever this was going to be, it should have been a summer blockbuster. That’s why I was so confused when after the trailer… the screen indicated the release date: 1/18/08. Now I know why it deserves to come out in January (usually the dumping ground for movies that are terrible or just okay): if it were released this summer, it would be a disgrace to other actual great summer blockbusters like The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Speed Racer and Indiana Jones.