I will admit, the marketing scheme behind this awfulness was clever. I mean, I like a good thrill ride monster movie. The Creature From the Black Lagoon piqued my curiosity as a youngster as I marveled at the brilliance of trying to understand something that has no explanation. However, it's hard to have this curiosity, no matter how intriguing the monster is, when the script is so tired its in a coma.
Yes, the monster is cool. No, the stupid hand-held camera gimmick didn't bother me. Yes, the special effects are great and at times I did find myself in awe of the spectacle on the screen as it does seem real, but the movie itself is so, so, so dumb. At any moment I felt comfortable to leave to use the restroom as I knew exactly what I was going to miss. The plot was a paint by numbers and I would have loved even a touch of Bob Ross to fill the blanks, but no originality whatsoever.
First they steal the overdone Hollywood bit about love. "Dude, if you love her, tell her." Response: "I can't tell her, unless a mutant alien/ocean creature tries to expunge the city, only then will I try and make my move." Why have this? Why not make the story the monster? Really, who cares about these characters? Who cares about Rob's job in Japan? It's flimsy? Why have it? The beginning clearly leads on that the camera is found, which means they all die. Standard operation of introducing characters that we shouldn't care about.
Second, they decide to steal a scene from a much better monster movie The Descent. "Let's try night vision on the camera." And this is in no way as scary as the movie that did it better. The Descent works better in every faction of story telling. It forces claustrophobia as it whispers the insanity and the entire film works as a metaphor for diving deep into the darkness of one's existence and summoning demons, ones we can't see coming (which is why I think those monsters were blind). Cloverfield does none of this. It's a, where can we run to next? saga. A 'B' movie. A well shot 'B' movie.
Third we have the comic relief one liner guy holding the camera. But in true fashion of a bad movie, he's not funny, just annoying. A few people in my viewing clapped when he was eaten. I love LOST. I think it's the best show on TV, but the writer here has proved that being a great psychological writer for the little screen does not translate to comedy. Bad Robot productions should hire one guy with a sense of humor. They may need him at some point. Hud's pinnacle of wit was "That's terrible" when he gets a good shot of the monster. Followed closely by, "That's terrible too" when we see when of its young-lings a few seconds later. Brilliant... improv? I can only guess the script consisted of locations and not so much dialogue since this boner had most of the words in the movie, words that seemed spontaneously driven from someone wait listed at community college. Horrible. I'm surprised he didn't utter, "That's terrible cubed" before he was engorged upon. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Fourth, we have the killer/villain/monster has one last leap. Yes, we knew the helicopter was going down since they find the camera in Central Park. "We killed him" Hud proclaims, just before the monster elevates and slaps the helicopter to the ground. This is scary, why? Oh, it's not scary, and I find the idea of a thing like this really existing more logical than any of those bozos surviving the crash in the park.
Fifth, they've stolen from every Stephen King novel ever, because King should always have chapters taken out, and this movie should have been an hour long. Do we really need to see them walk up 57 flights of stairs and then back down and then bank up and then and then and then and then.... yes we do. Otherwise they don't have enough for a feature length movie. So trite and boring and not fascinating. Which is why the gimmick of a hand held camera was needed. Otherwise, they may actually need to give the characters some arc, have some purposeful shots of the monster, maybe create a reason for what it is and why it's there and, uh-oh, give it some originality. For anyone who thinks this movie is original it is probably because you are under 24 and either naive to creativity or just haven't seen any worthwhile movies. I wanted to like this I did, I really did. It just wasn't good. I can respect it, as I respect all movies that are made. It was well crafted and edited and the effects were amazing, but so what? All movies now have great effects. The Fantastic Four movies are not good, but their effects rock. War of the Worlds was awful, but I thought those things really came out of the ground. Effects and production don't make a movie. Not anymore. T-2, Jurassic Park, Men in Black, those movies were pioneers to FX being a character along with brilliant film-making. Now it is expected. Since it is expected there, I expect more from the story. This isn't it. If I were trapped in hell and I had a choice to watch either Cloverfiled or One Miss Call over and over, I'd pick One Miss Call. At least its badness is funny, which gives it some merit. Cloverfield is just bad. Textook, trite, cliched, not smart, overdone, not scary, bad. Not as bad as Mission Impossible 2, but pretty darn close.