'Cloverfield': The Critics Are Split

We've already run the advance reviews (what—you don't trust Nicholas Chance, Kid Detective Reviewer?), and given you an exclusive! semi-blurry insider's gallery of Wednesday night's premiere. But with today's opening, everyone can finally check out Cloverfield for themselves—or not, if Godzilla vs. Felicity isn't your thing. (It was totally our thing.) The reviews are in:
· "The doomed Gotham created by producer J.J. Abrams — he with the golden Felicity, Alias, and Lost touch — and his team is almost entirely populated by vapid, twenty-something nincompoops. Oops, I mean attractive, indistinguishable young people who handle cell phones, DV cameras, etc., with ease; call one another ''dude''; don't have anything interesting to say; and, perhaps as a result, don't listen to one another, even in an emergency." [EW.com]

· "Cloverfield is the most intense and original creature feature I've seen in my adult moviegoing life, and that's coming from a guy who knows his Gojira from his Gamera and his Harryhausen from his Honda. Cloverfield isn't a horror film - it's a pure-blood, grade A, exultantly exhilarating monster movie." [austinchronicle.com]
· "A film that delivers a clever twist on perhaps the oldest sci-fi/horror staple of all: The Giant Monster Movie. It's not the life-changing movie experience the intense viral marketing attention would lead you to think it is, but its decision to focus on ground-level humanism rather than epic disaster is what separates it from the pack." [Premiere]
· "It's dumb but quick and dirty and effectively brusque, dispensing with niceties such as character. It is the endlessly, cruelly commodified images from Sept. 11, 2001, that "Cloverfield" pursues with a vengeance. Skyscrapers collapse and send dust clouds barreling down narrow Manhattan streets. Loose-leaf papers flutter down from the sky." [Chicago Tribune]
· I'm not sure I agree with the decision to make a quartet of bland proto-yuppies the center of the action, but we all look pretty much the same once we're crushed/eaten/disemboweled. "Cloverfield" is clever enough in its mindless violence to keep you engaged for the brief (84 minute) running time. And stick around during the end credits for what might be the best part of the film: Michael Giacchino's score, itself an homage to the bombastic soundtracks of monster movies past. [Film Threat]
· "[C]ombines unpleasantness and stupidity to a degree that would be difficult to match unless you were stuck in bed with a case of the shingles while being forced to watch "The Ghost Whisperer."" [NY Post]
· "[U]nlike Brian De Palma's recent Redacted and Romero's forthcoming Diary of the Dead— both of which use subjective cameras as a way of questioning our YouTube-d universe and the trust we put in recorded images — Cloverfield's first-person ­videography has little sense of purpose. It's just another salable gimmick in a movie whose closest kinship to Blair Witch may be the genius of its ad campaign." [LA Weekly]
· "Projected on a building-size screen, "Cloverfield" is a relentless, I-thought-my-eyeballs-were-bleeding exercise in visual disorientation...So what does "Cloverfield" offer? Bad taste? Dialogue that consists largely of OH MY GOD!!? The anti-cinematic aesthetic that is coming to govern our visual lives? All of the above, plus another slimy monster, engaged in an extreme makeover of Manhattan." [WashPo]
· "Like "Cloverfield" itself, this new monster is nothing more than a blunt instrument designed to smash and grab without Freudian complexity or political critique, despite the tacky allusions to Sept. 11. The screams and the images of smoke billowing through the canyons of Lower Manhattan may make you think of the attack, and you may curse the filmmakers for their vulgarity, insensitivity or lack of imagination. (The director, Matt Reeves, lives in Los Angeles, as does the writer, Drew Goddard, and the movie's star producer, J. J. Abrams.) But the film is too dumb to offend anything except your intelligence, and the monster does cut a satisfying swath through the cast, so your only complaint may be, What took it so long?" [NY Times]