Showrunner, J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Super 8, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) visited Japan to promote “Mission Impossible III” with his children. One day, he and his children went to a toy store featuring Godzilla action figures. After purchasing his kids some toys, J.J. decided to come up with his own giant monster movie, in a much darker and realistic atmosphere than Godzilla & King Kong. In early 2007, Movie Studio, Paramount Pictures, secretly approved the project. They hired Matt Reeves (Planet Of The Apes reboot) as the director, Drew Goddard as the writer & J.J. worked as a producer for the picture.
Four Months Later, a bunch of movie goers entered their local theater to watch Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” As they wait patiently for Optimus Prime, a teaser trailer begins with a going away party. At first, everybody was having a good time, but suddenly, an “earthquake” occurs. It wasn’t just an earthquake, but a vibration caused by an unknown force. The Party Goers went outside to see what the commotion is all about. They witness an explosion with debris flying like a bunch of meteors falling toward them, they manage to leave the apartment. One of them party members sees something mysterious moving away, and then The Statue Of Liberty’s head hurles down in the streets of NYC. The teaser ends without the title of the film, only showing the release date.
The Marketing Campaign was all over the place, such as The Internet with users speculating on whether or not it’s gonna be a faithful remake of Godzilla or a film about H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, who’s perhaps the first giant monster in literature, way before King Kong made a big impact on Kaiju pictures. Human characters formerly had MySpace pages prior to that fateful night. Fan theories on what The Monster is gonna look like or if this is a spin-off to the television series, Lost. At but not least, A drink called ”Slusho” was used to promote the film, courtesy of J.J. Abrams.
After several attempts on trying to come up with a title, J.J. decided come up with “Cloverfield.” He named it after an exit to his office in Santa Monica. Thus, Cloverfield is born.
Cloverfield was released in 2008. It became a sleeper hit, earning positive word of mouth from critics and movie goers alike and made enough money at the box office.
Now that “The Cloverfield Paradox” is now available on Netflix, I’ve decided to look back at the one that started it all. Don’t forget about “Pacific Rim: Uprising” which is coming out on March, as it also involves giant monsters.
The following review doesn’t contain any gigantic (no pun intended) SPOILERS. You’re ok to read this article, if you have never seen the entire movie yet.
Positive & Negative Elements
Positive: The Cast (especially T.J. Miller in his film debut) did a good job on their performances. They’re not portrayed as annoying idiots like Dakota Fanning’s character, Rachel Ferrier in the 2005 version of “War Of The Worlds.” They’re actually realistic people and never succumb to “Capshaw’s Disease.” (CD for short)
Action Sequences kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m giving this movie a tremendous amount of Bonus Points for making me feel like I was part of an unsafe roller coaster ride at Six Flags. Think of it as The Titan, without safety precautions. If you have a weak stomach, prepare yourself, because this movie is gonna make you throw up. As a precaution, make sure to bring a barf bag, you don’t want to make a mess in the living room.
The movie opens with a scene taking place on April, 27. This number indicates on something terrible is about to happen. For example, the human characters’ age are mostly 27. If you’re familiar with “The 27 Club,” famous rock stars such as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison & Janis Joplin, tragically died at the age of 27. I think the producers must’ve done some research by using this number as subtle foreshadowing on what’s gonna happen to the main characters.
Visual Effects were used to orchestrate dangerous obstacles and of course, bringing The Monster to life. He’s not the only one terrorizing The Big Apple. If you know what I mean.
If you recall seeing the teaser trailer as I did, The Statue Of Liberty is decapitated by The Monster. This is an homage to the poster from the cult classic film, “Escape From New York.” John Carpenter is one of J.J.’s role models. I would assume that John felt pretty flattered when he first saw the trailer.
Oscar winning composer/ frequent collaborator of J.J. Abrams, Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Up, Star Trek, Star Wars: Rogue One) composed a musical piece called, “Roar! (Cloverfield Overture) It’s an instrumental love letter to Kaiju films, most notably Godzilla. If I were you, I suggest you to listen to that amazing track, it is played during The End Credits Sequence.
Similar to how Godzilla is portrayed as a metaphor for weapons of mass destruction during The Cold War, the film parallels The September 11th Attacks. The Creature is a metaphor for terrorism & destruction, while the humans represent New Yorkers trying to stay alive as possible.
Almost every character uses “The S Word.” Looks like Drew Goddard must’ve been watching that South Park episode called, “It Hits The Fan” or “Accepted.” I would love to see a bonus feature on the DVD/Blu-Ray, when the user clicks on The S Word feature kinda like that South Park episode showing how many times a character uses The S Word.
One character mentioned Superman. A couple of years ago, J.J. was attempting to bring back Superman on the silver screen by writing a screenplay entitled, “Superman Flyby.” Plus, “The Dark Knight” came out the same year as Cloverfield, starring Superman’s polar opposite. Well played J.J. for giving us comic book geeks a subtle wink.
Similar to Quentin Tarantino’s “Big Kahuna Burger” featured in his works, one of J.J.’s signature trademarks is the fictional “Slusho” beverage. Rob’s brother Jason, is shown wearing a Slusho t-shirt.
Inside an electronic shop, there’s a Pause Worthy Moment featuring Sandy Cheeks (from Spongebob Squarepants) on one of TV screens. I guess it counts as a “cameo appearance.” Nickelodeon is owned by Paramount.
Without giving too much away, The Monster’s appearance is revealed during pivotal moments involving the main characters overcoming a variety of obstacles.
Rob’s love interest’s name is Beth McLyntyre. Two Years Later, Winona Ryder co-starred in “Black Sawn” as Beth McLyntrye. I bet Darren Aronofsky is good friends with J.J. Abrams and he asked him permission to share that name. Think of it as a multiverse when people have an occupation in a possible universe. All I have to say, is Black Swan secretly a stand-alone spin-off to Cloverfield, before 10 Cloverfield Lane?
Negative: Cinematography can be a pain in the neck, when it comes to found footage films. I’m giving this flaw a pass, because this movie is 100% shot with a camcorder to make it feel realistic as possible.
Product Placement is all over the place filled with a bunch of brands including, Mountain Dew, Nokia, Aquafina, Jolly Rancher, Nestle Crunch, Doublemint, Philips, Sierra Mist & Budweiser. You think Man Of Steel’s Product Placement was bad, get a load of this!
The Final Verdict: A-
In my opinion, Cloverfield still holds up as sleeper hit among fans of Kaiju films and made an impact on developing stand-alone installments and encouraging Warner Bros. to make a cinematic universe called, MonsterVerse, featuring Godzilla and his adversaries. I highly recommend Cloverfield if you’re excited to see Pacific Rim: Uprising or The Cloverfield Paradox, go give this one a watch! As a reminder, bring yourself a barf bag!