My wife and I just finally got around to watching Cloverfield. I had a feeling my wife might not enjoy it, but she absolutely loathed
it. I don't think it helped that we managed to convince her to watch Black Hawk Down for the first time just prior to watching Cloverfield, insisting that it wasn't your run-of-the-mill war movie she's come to despise, and yet I was wrong once again. She appreciated that it was a fantastic movie, but she didn't ever want to see it again. After our friends left I expressed interest in watching Cloverfield as it was fairly early and it wasn't a very long film (only about 80 minutes or so) and she agreed.
On numerous occasions I saw her bury her face in a pillow, not because she was scared, but because the film obviously made her nauseous. I was surprised that it didn't have the same effect on me, especially since some FPS games make me motion sick and I can no longer ride thrill rides without ample amounts of Dramamine. But the camera work in Cloverfield didn't bother me, at least from a motion sick standpoint.
Part of my problem with the film was not really caring much about the various characters. The girl who suffers from the mini-creature's bite made it painfully clear that she didn't really want to be at the party, she didn't know anyone, but she was all for drinking free booze while she was there. Not that this should impact my feelings about whether she lived or died, but I just didn't care for the character. I actually said "woah" with a hearty chuckle when she popped.
I was initially turned off by the main couple in the film because of their obvious lack of maturity. I have no patience for B.S. drama when it comes to relationships, and even less patience for ridiculous drunken drama one typically finds at a college-age party. I had the initial impression that these were young NYC professionals (hence the new job in Japan), but they came across as spoiled college kids pissing and moaning about failed relationships.
When the chaos began I really got into the idea that this was a recovered tape filmed by someone right in the middle of the "event" (I loved the video title in the beginning stating that the film was recovered from what used to be NYC), but the style made the film too impersonal for me. I couldn't really develop any feelings for the characters because they felt so removed, like watching home movies of people I didn't know or care about. Yes, they were involved in one hell of a catastrophe, but it felt like being forced to watch some random friends' vacation video. Instead of thinking, "Oh dear, that poor boy lost his brother," I was instead thinking, "Yeah, yeah, little Jimmy swimming in the lake, blah blah Aunt Agnes at the family picnic, but I want to see more of the monster."
I also couldn't help but think, "Man, these kids had some awful
luck." For as large as NYC is, these fools managed to stumble into the monster's path a number
of times. Can your luck be that
bad? I understand that if they didn't
have such bad luck then we, the audience, would never see much of the monster or really feel any level of tension, but come on. NYC is a big place. Even when they were escaping in the helicopter the monster was again
"conveniently" below them for a perfect camera shot, and of all places to direct its anger, the creature goes after their
helicopter and not after the other vehicles shooting
But, my gripes aside, I thought that this was a very interesting way to present a film about a monster attack on NYC. We got to experience the event as if right smack in the middle of everything with no warning or backstory. We were "at" a party, and then all of a sudden the city was under attack. It was a cool premise, but outside of how creative the film's presentation was, the characters were fairly one-dimensional, the characters' awful
luck was a bit too much to believe, the camera work, while meant to mimic watching a home video, felt a little too disjointed and made the film feel a bit jarring, and the acting felt like it was straight out of a "B" movie.
Overall I've say the film was merely "okay." I didn't dislike Cloverfield, but I didn't love it, either. As much as I hate to use the word, I more or less felt "meh". But I am not disappointed that I purchased it, and I do plan on watching again (but without my wife). Perhaps on subsequent viewings I'll develop a better appreciation for what the filmmakers were trying to do.