The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NMU CARES — President Brock Tessman shares his feelings on the universitys new CARE Team. Photo Courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Letter to the Editor — Our New CARE Team
Brock TessmanFebruary 23, 2024

‘Cloverfield’ delivers intense thrills

A good monster movie is about more than a man in a rubber suit destroying a model town. Films such as 1954’s “Godzilla” were metaphors for the fears people had of nuclear weapons. However, many saw the genre as being similar to horror in that it was all about cheap thrills. Because of this, the monster genre has struggled and we’re overdue for a film that brings it back to its roots. As I began watching director Matt Reeves’ latest, “Cloverfield,” I wondered: would this be just another monster flick, or would it be something more?

New York City resident Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) has landed his dream job in Japan, so his friends throw him a surprise party. As everyone’s having a good time, a sudden jolt ripples through the city, causing alarm and panic. Unsure of what’s happening, Rob and his friends head to the roof to get a better view, in time to see an explosion from the center of town, throwing debris across the city. An enormous monster emerges and begins to tear its way through the skyscrapers, killing everything in its path. Before they can escape, Rob learns that his friend Beth (Odette Yustman), who he’s madly in love with, is trapped downtown, and Rob vows to rescue her before they leave the city.

In terms of story, “Cloverfield” is sparse, but it doesn’t need to be a deep, philosophical film. In fact, the only parts that could have been cut deal with the love story between Rob and Beth, which strays into clichéd territory. However, it’s more than a cheesy love story. The film is set in New York City for a reason. Reeves’ wanted to use “Cloverfield” as an allegory for the fears and confusion still surrounding 9/11. I can see this causing controversy but I didn’t feel as though Reeves was exploiting 9/11, he was simply using it as a backdrop. This parallel to real events only helps to increase the intensity.

In fact, if I had to sum up “Cloverfield” in one word, it would be intense. The action sequences are insane, rivaling the biggest summer blockbusters. Thankfully, the action is well-paced with a surprising amount of horror and comedy, both properly executed.

Story continues below advertisement

What makes “Cloverfield” so intense is the style. The entire movie is filmed with a camcorder, capturing the events just as an average person on the street would. This ends up being the film’s biggest strength and greatest weakness. The viewer is thrust into the action and thanks to some excellent set design and CGI, you really feel like you’re there. And Reeves uses this unique style to his advantage, feeding us information in clever ways.

However, this style of filming naturally limits what can be done with the narrative. We learn very little about what is going on, because the person filming is an average person who would learn very little. I appreciated that Reeves didn’t explain everything to us, which I felt was the right decision in the end, but it did result in a few moments of frustration.

Then there’s the camera itself. There were moments where you could tell the writers struggled with how to keep the camera part of the action when it would have been easier for the character to ditch it and run. But Reeves was tethered to it, making for a few silly moments that detract from the overall experience. Still, I couldn’t see a movie like this being filmed in a traditional fashion.

“Cloverfield” is a film that could have gone one of two ways: a monumental failure, or a huge success. Although it won’t revolutionize the monster genre, it is definitely entertaining. A few flaws in the story and filming style hold it back from true greatness, but if you’re in the slightest bit interested, get some friends and some popcorn and see this on the big screen.

More to Discover