JUSTIN MATLOCK reviews CLOVERFIELD (15).
LOST creator JJ Abrams delivers a late Christmas present with the pulse-pounding monster movie CLOVERFIELD (15).
Shot entirely on a handheld camera, the film is essentially The Blair Witch Project but with giant monsters - although if you can stomach 80 minutes of shaky camera work there's far more to enjoy here than the hollow gimmickry of Blair Witch.
Once the surprisingly long set-up is out of the way, the film grabs you by the intestines and gives them a sharp twist as the giant monster's rampage through New York brings widespread death and destruction.
It's cleverly shot with some breathtaking moments of computer animated property damage seamlessly blended into the landscape - the Statue of Liberty's head is seen rolling down one street in one scene while our small band of survivors are forced to climb all over two skyscrapers that have crashed into each other during one nail-biting set-piece.
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And it's the widescreen spectacle that makes the film work. The performances aren't particularly bad but the young cast of unknowns are saddled with fairly formulaic roles and it's the raw 9/11-inspired intensity of the action that keeps things so electrifying.
If you can ignore the fact that you probably wouldn't hold on to your camcorder if a giant monster was chasing you, the film uses the handheld trick to great effect, allowing footage previously filmed on the tape to come through at times to add a little depth to the characters' relationships.
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It's a film that could sit comfortably with the best of the blockbusters and if this is an indication of the quality of this summer's movies, we're in for a wild ride. - JUSTIN MATLOCK