Cloverfield - 3.25 stars
Cloverfield is an impressive monster movie, heavily laden with product placement (Mountain Dew and Nokia come to mind) and annoying plot twists and stupid decisions, but well made and intense and fairly clever. If you like monster movies, you'll like this movie. But to say much more than that - well, I suppose I could talk about the trailers safely (Hellboy 2 looks like my kind of movie! And the Star Trek teaser was fun too), but spoilers would really ruin the movie pretty badly.
That said, I still want to talk about it. I'll just leave a few blank lines.
Cloverfield is, basically, the Blair Witch Project with a giant monster. The camera work is jittery, the characters make stupid decisions, and well, the entire plot device of using the camera the whole time didn't really make much sense. And the characters die in the end, in large part based on their own stupidity. I don't really know if this is a good thing or a bad thing; I suspect that it won't age that well. But it was a good experience.
The Jaws aspect of things was also good - we did see the monster, but not all that often, and more often we just saw its effects. In fact, the movie was really about the effects of the attack on NYC; the parallels with 9-11 were clear, but no less chilling for that. The horse walking down the street, still attached to its carriage but without a driver - that was a creepy image. And there were more such images, from the collapse of the Empire State Building to the poster shot of the head of the Statue of Liberty. The most real, though, was all the people standing close and taking cell-phone shots of that head.
Tactically, most of the decisions made by the main characters were horrible - but I suppose that most of them weren't that shocking. That the group followed their friend on his question to the middle of town to rescue their mutual friend - that was dumb. The rest stemmed from that first bad decision. Well, there was one other truly bad idea - crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with the attack going on was a horrible idea. But that's the movies...
It probably should have ended ten minutes earlier than it did.
A few random things I liked about this movie:
The spider-things looked like Zerglings. They were too small, yes, but it was the right idea.
The range of alien powers was fairly unexpected. I expected infection, not Infested Terrans. (I have Starcraft on the mind now.)
The cutting between the various videos was interesting.
I don't think there will be a sequel.
Johann Kraus will be in Hellboy 2. Whee!
Anyway - I'm happy I saw it before the spoilers came out. I hope that anybody that wanted to see it already did so before reading my spoilers.