——- SPOILER ALERT ———
We live in a century/decade/time where we feel the need to register every activity we do through pictures and video recordings. It seems that if we don’t take a picture of our meal or trip and publish it on Facebook or on any other social network, that didn’t happen. Actually, to prove we did something, we MUST register and overshare it. Otherwise, people won’t believe us. I think that’s how Cloverfield was conceived.
Bob Hawkins, our main character, films a beautiful dawn in Manhattan, right from the 39th floor apartment of his friend Beth. He says “it’s a good day” and then, he heads to Beth’s bedroom. She is laying on her bed, naked, and smiling. They’re not in a relationship, but it’s obvious they’re more than friends. Later we find out that Bob recorded every special moment with his camera (smartphones weren’t as popular as they are now) of that weekend/vacation they spent together.
We don’t know how many weeks passed, but now Bob and Beth are not longer dating and he is going away overseas. Bob’s brother, Jason, asks his friend Hud to record his brother surprise farewell party where Bob meets Beth’s new suitor. He is not capable to tell her his feelings and lets her go. In this part of the film, three important secondary characters are introduced: Marlena, Hud’s love interest, and Lily, Jason’s girlfriend (they will join Bob on his journey to save Beth). Everyone wishes Bob the best of luck as he has got a job as vice president in a Japanese company and they all are having a good time, without knowing they’re about to experience the worst hours of their lives. Literally.
Unexpectedly, a monster (a new type of Gozdilla) attacks Manhattan. They decide to leave the city by crossing the bridge but the monster destroys it and kills Jason. Bob is concerned about Beth but can’t call her up because his cellphone has run out of battery. He goes to an electronics store and steals a charger. Finally, after a few attempts, she answers and tells him she can’t move and she’s bleeding. Bob feels regretful for letting her go and for being a coward. He must have told her he loved her when he had the chance, what if she dies without knowing this?
As you know, Cloverfiled was filmed in a documentary style like The Blair Witch Project. The camera becomes a witness of everything that happens to Bob and his friends and works as a visual binnacle-diary (by the way, where did they buy this camera? It never runs out of battery and of tape! LOL). Unlike many other disaster films such as San Andreas Quake (terrible, don’t watch it) where all our questions are answered (we know what happened to the city and to the characters), in Cloverfield we never find out where this monster comes from, what it is exactly and if Beth and Bob survived. It has an open ending that leads us to guess whether there will be a sequel or not to explain what happened to them.
I’m aware this is not a romantic movie but Bob’s true love is what makes the film interesting and what encourages him to survive. We wonder all the time if he and Beth are going to make it and even the most anti-romantic guy would expect to see them kissing at the end of the film. But this doesn’t happen.
As you might know, within the conventions of the disaster film subgenre, the monster/disaster works as an excuse to reunite families, couples, friends and civilizations. The characters of these movies always realize they do love each other after the disaster/monster is gone, and/or realize they’re stronger than they thought they were. Frequently, these films help to enhance family and patriotic values and make a lot of money because of their amazing visual effects.
What about audiences? Well, in my opinion, disaster films lovers are not a very demanding audience (auch, sorry!). They expect to see a CGI monster destroying cities (usually New York), killing innocent civilians, a beautiful girl on screen and sharks flying inside a tornado (¿?) as well as a happy ending where the boy gets the girl and where everything is back in order after a massive destruction. Just like in the super hero films.
Although Cloverfield is another cliché-formula disaster film, it’s worth seeing it. Bob’s experience reminded me of two phrases that I have heard too many times on the Internet and in the movies: “make each day count” and “live the moment”. In other words, life is unpredictable, enjoy it as much as you can today. It makes sense because we don’t know if an earthquake will destroy our home, if a relative will have an accident or if a monster will attack our city tomorrow or next week. Not even the richest and healthiest man in the world has a guarantee he will be alive within a year. Opportunities don’t happen twice. Do whatever you have to do NOW. Take risks.
I think that’s one of the messages of this film (or at least what I liked the most of it).