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Customer Review

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 May 2012
Having scrupulously avoided Cloverfield for its veritable shopping list of things I hate about many modern movies - not least the obsession with shooting on shakeycam digital where you can't tell what's going on - I was surprised to discover it's actually a surprisingly effective update on the classic kaiju movie that really works as an audience picture. Its real innovation isn't that it's masquerading as a home video record of an unknown giant monster's devastating attack on New York: the `found footage' genre was old long before The Blair Witch Project came along. Rather, it's that instead of going for the big picture like the classic Godzilla movies, this concentrates on the people previous monster movies simply used as background, the ordinary people running for their lives who are usually just there to scream and get stomped on. There's plenty of that along the way, and surprisingly effectively handled, but there's also a real sense of chaos and confusion. Nobody knows what's going on, the creature only briefly glimpsed until the end, its origins unexplained and ultimately unimportant as simply surviving takes precedence for the ever-thinning group of partygoers caught up in the surprisingly spectacular devastation. Characterisation is minimal, as you might expect with its faux reality approach, but what it does have is a genuine sense of immediacy and a palpable sense of fear and desperation as the everyday suddenly gets mightily torn apart. It's surprisingly short, but incredibly effective - perhaps more so on the small screen than the big one - and transcends what could have simply been a marketing gimmick to become a genuinely iconic monster movie for the 21st century.

The extras package on the two-disc DVD is a lot slimmer and more perfunctory than it apprears at first sight (it doesn't even include the infamous trailer that sparked the film's 'mystery' marketing campaign), so there's little reason to opt for it over the single disc unless the price is favourable. The extras have all been carried over to the Blu-ray release.
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