Cloverfield is a 2008 American monster movie directed by Matt Reeves and produced by J. J. Abrams. The film was first publicized as a teaser trailer during screenings of Transformers; however, the trailers never listed the title of the movie and only provided its release date, "01.18.08". Paramount Pictures carried out a large viral marketing campaign in order to promote the film prior to its theatrical release. Cloverfield was finally released on January 17, 2008, in New Zealand and Australia, on January 18 in North America, and on February 1 in the United Kingdom.
Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.
- Michael Stahl-David as Robert Hawkins
- Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins
- Odette Yustman as Beth McIntyre
- Lizzy Caplan as Marlena Diamond
- Jessica Lucas as Lily Ford
- T. J. Miller as Hudson Platt
- Greg Grunberg
- Blake Lively
To prevent the leaking of plot information, instead of auditioning the actors with scenes from the film, scripts from Abrams's previous productions were used, such as television series Alias. Some scenes were also written specifically for the audition process, not intended for use in the film. Despite not being told the premise of the film, Lizzy Caplan stated that she accepted a role in Cloverfield solely because she was a fan of the Abrams-produced television series Lost, and her experience of discovering its true nature initially caused her to state that she would not sign on for a film in the future "without knowing full well what it is." She indicated that her character was a sarcastic outsider, and that her role was "physically demanding.
J. J Abrams conceived of a new monster after he and his son visited a toy store in Japan. He explained, "We saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own monster, and not King Kong, King Kong's adorable. I wanted something that was just insane and intense. In February 2007, Paramount Pictures secretly greenlit Cloverfield, to be produced by Abrams, directed by Matt Reeves, and written by Drew Goddard. The project was produced by Abrams' company, Bad Robot Productions. The poster for Escape from New York (1981) inspired the scene of the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty in Cloverfield.
The casting process was carried out in secret, with no script being sent out to candidates. With production estimated to have a budget of $30 million, filming began in mid-June in New York. One cast member indicated that the film would look like it cost $150 million, despite producers not casting recognizable and expensive actors. Location filming, shot in digital video using hand-held video cameras, took place on Coney Island, with scenes being shot at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and the B&B Carousel. Some interior shots were filmed on a soundstage at Downey, California. The film was edited to look like it was filmed with one hand-held camera, including jump cuts similar to ones found in home movies. Director Matt Reeves described the presentation, "We wanted this to be as if someone found a Handicam, took out the tape and put it in the player to watch it. What you're watching is a home movie that then turns into something else." Reeves explained that the pedestrians documenting the severed head of the Statue of Liberty with the camera phones was reflective of the contemporary period. "Cloverfield very much speaks to the fear and anxieties of our time, how we live our lives. Constantly documenting things and putting them up on YouTube, sending people videos through e-mail - we felt it was very applicable to the way people feel now," the director said.
The decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty was inspired by the poster of the 1981 film Escape from New York, which had shown the head lying in the streets in New York despite not appearing in the film itself. According to Reeves, "It's an incredibly provocative image. And that was the source that inspired [producer] J.J. [Abrams] to say, 'Now this would be an interesting idea for a movie.
The film was titled Cloverfield from the beginning, but the title changed throughout production before it was finalized as the original title. Matt Reeves explained that the title was changed frequently due to the hype caused by the teaser trailer, "That excitement spread to such a degree that we suddenly couldn't use the name anymore. So we started using all these names like Slusho and Cheese. And people always found out what we were doing!" The director said that "Cloverfield" was the government's case designate for the monster, comparing the titling to that of the Manhattan Project. "And it's not a project per se. It's the way that this case has been designated. That's why that is on the trailer, and it becomes clearer in the film. It's how they refer to this phenomenon [or] this case," said the director.
Visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett and his company Tippett Studio were enlisted to develop the visual effects for Cloverfield. Since the visual effects were incorporated after filming, cast members had to react to a non-existent creature during scenes, only being familiar with early conceptual renderings of the beast.
Many theories and speculations circled the internet as to what the monster looked like. One of the films "grasps" was not showing the monster during the previews and very little during the actual movie. Causing a great deal of speculation, from this secretly being a "Godzilla sequel" refering to the 1998 film by TriStar, to an odd possible red-herring drawing of a gigantic whale like Kaiju that circulated on the net.
The reactions to the actual creature are rather mixed. While many Kaiju fans praise the monster's unique design and extreme resistance to heavy weaponry, others despise it due to its bizarre appearance and lack of intellegence. Many have compared the monster's design from everything to Ebirah, the creature in WXIII: Patlabor the Movie 3, to many of the monsters from the Godzilla animated series sequel to the 1998 Godzilla movie, the creature from The Host and even Orga.
In the bonus features of the DVD it is revealed that the monster is supposed to be a baby that was frightened and trying to survive, and the Parasites its sheds are part of a "Post-Birth Ritual".
- Cloverfield at Wikipedia
- Official website (requires adobe flash player)
- Teaser website (requires adobe flash player)
- Cloverpedia's own Cloverfield article.