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title stars


A conceptually clever little film, Cloverfield suffers badly at the hands of its central conceit, and ultimately manages to be little more than annoying. It’s an Americanized Japanese monster movie in which a multi-story creature attacks Manhattan. The clever bit is that it’s ostensibly filmed by one of the victims, using a camcorder – admittedly, a miraculous camcorder with a one-terabyte SD card and an invisible 80 amp-hour truck battery to keep it running for the duration of the adventure. Regrettably, the camcorder in question appears to have been selective of its miracles – it omits image stabilization. Watching 84 minutes of shaky video as the largely unseen narrator runs away from monsters will make even the most robust of sailors terminally seasick.

Perhaps more to the point, however, is that the story told by the camcorder in question is difficult to identify with, even at the level of a monster flick. The victims of the attack are in turns dumb as posts, impossibly brave, commendably lucky and unbearably shrill. Cloverfield is unusually short as feature films go, but by the time you get half way through it, it’ll feel like it’s going to run forever.