I spent the second half of the film’s 84-minute running time standing at the side of the theatre to avoid regurgitating my popcorn onto the people in front of me. While the handheld filming style makes for a very unique movie-going experience, for those of us with even the slightest susceptibility to motion sickness, it’s a gimmick we could do without.
Unfortunately, the story (and I’m using that term very loosely) would have failed miserably if it had been filmed traditionally. I say this simply because there really isn’t a story. After I’d had time to digest what I’d seen, I realized that the film really shows like a feature-length trailer for a traditional disaster movie. Spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading now.
At the end of the film, we know nothing more than we did at the beginning. The monster is apparently impervious to any means of warfare the military can unleash. We don’t know its origin or its purpose. We just know it’s huge, it’s spawning little monsters that make you explode, and it’s apparently unstoppable. The characters in which we’d invested ourselves die. The writers were kind enough to throw us a crumb of resolution through the proclamations of affection from the star-crossed lovers, but it’s far from satisfying as only minutes later, they’re gone.
I’m not one to believe that all stories have to have a happy ending, but I want to leave the theatre feeling like something was at least accomplished. Perhaps if the story had been told from the monster’s point of view, I would have had a more gratifying experience.
As for the actual monster, I will admit it was pretty amazing. It’s unlike anything I personally have seen on film before. However, a friend to whom I was attempting to describe the monster pointed out that it sounded like Sin (of Final Fantasy X fame, for those not in the know), and I have to say she was pretty much spot on. While Sin, as I remember it anyway, is slightly more amorphous than the Cloverfield monster, they could certainly be cousins. (That friend, by the way, demanded to be named when I told her I was mentioning her analysis. So, Brittany Froeschle, here you go.)
So that’s my take on it, folks. Interesting (if nauseating) experiment in film-making, but ultimately unsatisfying due to the lack of a story arc.