Lessons From Cloverfield: Move to Brooklyn, Follow the Rats

Oh, poor New York. It just isn’t getting any better for you at the movies, is it? Sign Up For

Oh, poor New York. It just isn’t getting any better for you at the movies, is it?

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After seeing I am Legend, with the haunted empty Manhattan streets, and the rabid virus-mutated zombies, and the German Shepherd, etc., you might think you’d be prepared to watch Cloverfield.

And you’d think wrong!

The top secret J.J. Abrams produced-project has had people speculating for months about just what was going to be destroying New York this time. Weather has been done already. Germs too. And terrorism … oh wait, that was real … and for anyone who spent time in New York in the fall of 2001, certain scenes in this movie will feel almost unbearably too close.

Do any of us really need to watch a building collapse downtown, only to send up a rolling, menacing thick cloud of dust? Or, to see dazed and traumatized people wandering about with ash on their face?

The premise is simple and scary and well-done enough to significantly spook: A bunch of (suspiciously) good-looking twentysomethings are gathered for a goodbye party for Rob, who is leaving the city for a job in Japan, when a large tremor has them all race up to the roof in time to see an explosion come from behind a bunch of skyscrapers. Chaos ensues.

Director Matt Reeves uses the conceit of a handheld video camera (originally employed to tape farewells from Rob’s friends) throughout the movie, and though we were originally worried it might make us sick, it actually works amazingly well in adding suspense and a blinding sense of panic.

Small details work nicely (like when people stop to take pictures with their iPhones of the severed head of the Statue of Liberty), though you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out exactly what block they are on.

As has been previously revealed, yes, it’s a giant monster attacking the city, but really it doesn’t matter what it is or what it wants, and the filmmakers don’t bother with the seemingly-obligatory scientific explanation.

It’s about getting out and getting safe when your city and world suddenly become unrecognizable. All the scary bases are covered (think tunnels, darkness, heights, helicopters and un-stoppable biting things) and the movie feels like one of those out-of-control roller coasters where halfway through the ride, you reconsider the wisdom of getting on in the first place.

The visuals and special effects are good enough to satisfy all the people who care about such things, and we even learned some important lessons.

Like, Brooklyn really is the place to be and always, always, always follow the rats.

Lessons From Cloverfield: Move to Brooklyn, Follow the Rats