Here, we ONLY review the movies with deep bass SFX and sound tracks, to shake your subwoofer, pound your bass shakers, and rouse your home theater to new depths of sound.
That's where Cloverfield goes. Down, down, down, down to 5Hz.
So, whether you love it or hate it, this monster film will take your sound system for a deep, dark and dazzling ride.
At 5Hz, we can't hear the sounds: we feel them. The human ear can only hear down to 20Hz, and thusly MOST films don't go any lower than 20Hz either. And that's a compelling argument as to why you shouldn't blow your pocket money on bass shakers that can respond to sounds lower than 20Hz. Why bother, when no films go that low?
Cloverfield is why.
Cloverfield is the answer to all your bass shaking dreams. If you have a powerful bass shaker, like a ButtKicker or the Clark Platinum (both of which can "hear" down to 5Hz), you'll experience Cloverfield like it was meant to be experienced. You'll feel as if you are being punched with every monster footfall.
Until recently, there hasn't been a lot of reason to fork out cash for bass shakers that "hear" below 20Hz, because only a handful of films exploit that low range. But a sudden flutter of new films like Cloverfield are going to those deep, dark, bone-shaking places, and I really hope it's the start of something.
This section contains spoilers.
The whole film is riddled with deep bass, but you're going to love the fact that the film opens with the monster's deep, rolling, bass-eriffic footfalls. Right from the first second, you realise where this film is going to take you. If you want to jump to the next wicked bit of bass, leap to 18:24, and then let the good times roll.
You'll also want to send roses to Will Files (sound designer) when you hit 36:21, the subway scene. Although this scene provides a little breather from intense action, I really loved the distant rumbles of destruction as the characters cower in short-lived safety.
I heart this movie hard.
Why didn't this film do better at the box office? Maybe it had something to do with the complaints about the shaking camera-work, or the fact that the trailer was sooooooo awesome it raised expectations to jet-pilot heights, or it could be the dainty title of the flick.
Whatever the reason, I didn't even bother going to the cinema. But on Friday night, I watched Cloverfield (on Blu-Ray) from start to finish, then watched it again immediately. (Am I tragically alone in this? Are there any like-minded souls out there across the seas and deserts who watch the same movie back to back? No-one in my immediate circle does this.)
I remember people complaining that the camera work made them sick in the cinema, so maybe this film lends itself to a smaller screen because I LOVED the camera work. Yes, it's shaky and Blair Witchy, but it works. And of course, the sound design was outta this world (see above).
With the fervour of a new cult member, I assembled the usual suspects (my girlfriend and two mates), and made them watch it on Saturday night. On Sunday night, I made my Dad and my brother watch it. (Zealot, much?)
Why didn't I get the response I wanted from my enforced audience? OK, it could have something to do with the fact that my enthusiasm, like the trailer, raised expectations too high. Or it could be how I stare at people's faces before big moments to make sure they're sufficiently entertained. (I am aware that this is inappropriate viewing behaviour and will probably end up sad and alone.)
Or it could be they just didn't like it. In the post-movie analysis, I had to admit it has the one big notable failure of the majority of JJ Abrams' offerings. Like Super8, Lost, Felicity and (my guilty pleasure) Alias, it lacks the sort of ending Hollywood movies are famous for: the hero learns a valuable lesson OR falls in love OR lives happily ever after. With JJ, a story just ends before we're ready for the end, or it gets so silly we all stop watching. I think JJ would be the sort of kid at school who would throw paint at other kids with free abandon: punishment is better than boredom.
So what's to love about Cloverfield? It's the unbearably accurate reality of it.
Don't get me wrong, I love films where the heroes are so superhuman you can just sit back and let the bravery wash over you like Christmas aftershave. You know the ones: the hero has been skewered by a monster claw and thrown off a building onto a speeding garbage truck, but on impact he spins up from a crouch, whips out his Deathron 5000, and eviscerates the beast as he speeds away to safety.
This isn't that kind of film.
THIS film revolves around average 20-somethings who have no "skills", spine, strength or secret weapons. When we meet them, the gang are simply enjoying the minutiae of flirting, cheese and beer at a tame get-together. And then suddenly, they are running for their lives from the biggest, baddest monster you've ever seen.
There's no in-between, no foreshadowing. One minute, normal life. The next, terror.
If you've ever sat in a bathtub daydreaming: "What would I do if a zombie walked in right now", it's sort of like that. It takes your daydreams about how YOU would react in a terrifying situation: YOU with your flaws and fear and lack of physical prowess. What would YOU do? And how many photos would YOU try to capture on your phone's camera before turning tail and running for your life?)
It's telling that I love this movie, but hate "War of the Worlds" because that's what THAT movie sets out to do, according to Speilberg. It's meant to show how ordinary people react in extraodinary situations. But WOTW fails epic-style: in part, possibly because of the traditional story-telling and camera work.
Produced by JJ, Cloverfield also boasts a screenplay by Drew Goddard, who earned the first of his copious stripes writing for Buffy and Angel. So yes, you can expect exceptionally funny, self-deprecating dialogue that has none of the overblown histrionics or cheap shots of other big budget scriptwriters.
The director is Matt Reeves, who really didn't have the experience in monster flicks before this 'un (unless you count "Felicity" post haircut) but my gawd he delivered the goods.
So if you ain't seen it, or you ain't seen it on Blu-Ray with 5.1 lossless audio, check out Cloverfield. If you share my affection for Cloverfield, let me know in the comments so I don't feel so much like a nigel (that's an Australian word for sad, sorry, lonely kid who brushes their hair to one side along a very neat part). And if it leaves you cold, let me know anyway! At least then we'll know it's because you REALLY didn't like it, and not because I was staring at you while you watched it.
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Just one example of a scene with AWESOME bass. But don't watch it if you want to be surprised by the near-ending.
The forums were buzzing after this trailer was released in 2008. Perhaps the hype hurt the film?