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(2008), PG-13 [Hard R-13*] (1hr 12min)

Final Score
Analysis Date
Date Posted
Influence Density
December 13, 2008
December 18, 2008

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(While the Scriptural references are certainly not subjective, my commentary may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2008), PG-13 [Hard R-13*] ... is little more than a drinkfest and cussfest with sex dialogue and terror thrown in.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Bad Robot, Paramount Home Entertainment
Distribution (US): Paramount Home Entertainment
Director(s): Matt Reeves
Producer(s): J.J. Abrams, Dave Baronoff, Bryan Burk, Sherryl Clark, Guy Riedel
Written by: Drew Goddard
Cinematography/Camera: Michael Bonvillain
Music: Stephanie Lowry
Film Editing: Kevin Stitt
Casting: Alyssa Weisberg
Production Design: Martin Whist
Art Direction: Doug J. Meerdink
Viewed on Paramount Home Entertainment DVD

This film analysis is sponsored by E&HP and CZ.

How this film was given the stamp of approval for 13 year old kids is beyond me. Fortunately what is fit for your kids is not up to the MPAA. It is up to YOU no matter what the MPAA says. There is no law that says you must let your kids see any film.

R-rated films in the comparative baseline database earned final scores of 54 out of 100 and below. Consistently. With a final score of 23 out of 100 the PG-13 Cloverfield is without a doubt a hardcore R-13. As more evidence of the hardcore R-13 caliber of this film, R-rated films in the comparative baseline database earned Influence Density scores from 0.78 to 2.04 (the higher the figure the more severe the density of assaults on morality and decency), Cloverfield earned an Influence Density of 3.14.

With 40 uses of profanity (one four letter word in particular) plus 65 uses of God's name in vain, two of them with the four letter expletive plus one use of the most foul of the foul words, it is morally unfit for anyone by God's Word. One might try to excuse such profanity with the rationale that most people would probably not be particular about their choice of words used during a disaster, but there was no actual disaster in this film. The performances were merely a group of performers being told to cuss, to demonstrate the sin of profanity (and others), and getting paid for it.

The plethora of profanity is not to mention the saturation of the first third or so of the film with drinking alcohol and verbal treatment of immoral sex as casual, for example, as a going-away gift.

The Bottom line? Cloverfield is little more than a drinkfest and cussfest with sex dialogue and terror thrown in.

Like Blair Witch Project Cloverfield is filmed with a typically avoided technique -- entirely using a hand-held camera. While such a shaky technique befits the plot, it is at times annoying. However, one property of entertainment energy that is heightened by the shaky hand-held camera style is the sense of urgency or immediacy since the action is in the trenches with the characters, not from some nice and safe observation point. In one case the camera-toting character is chomped by the beast (faulty size perspective notwithstanding) and after several seconds of bouncing and flickering imagery, the camera ends up on the ground focused on the dead man's face.

How can a filmmaker create a disaster film of New York (Manhattan in this case) without some connection with 9/11? Maybe the filmmakers went too far but one scene looked like file footage of the 9/11 event. As the beast topples a great skyscraper the massive cloud of dust rolls down the streets and over the crowds engulfing the area in choking suffocation, just like the file footage of the real tragedy (which we will never forget).

The film begins ... bear with me because Cloverfield does not present a nicely packaged linear story ... April 27 at 6:42 AM with Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) filming as he enters his father's apartment with a nude Beth (Odette Yustman) in the bed after the pair shared an overnight cohabitation. There is no full nudity but the sheet leaves no doubt. And, as usual, this scene could have been entirely left out and none of the story or its power would have been lost. All that such depiction does is to perpetuate and amplify the perception that shacking up and unmarried sex are acceptable. Well, they are not okay to God. If you have a problem with what I just said, take it up with the One who wrote the Rules.

Soon the story jumps to a night in May, I believe the 23rd of May. Rob is leaving for Japan the next day. His friends throw a surprise going-away party, a drinking party. Rob's best friend Hudson "Hud" Platt (T. J. Miller) ends up being the cameraman through whom we see the story, making footage of forget-me-not testimonials for Rob. Rob's brother, Jason (Mike Vogel) and Jason's girlfriend, Lily (Jessica Lucas) are there to send off their good buddy. Also helping with the bash is Hud's desire, Marlena Diamond (Lizzy Caplan) plus a couple dozen acquaintances. After a few cases of brew and a few stories of sexual conquests and/or intentions the gathering is interrupted by explosions, rockets and other military ordnance ... all to greet the nasty beast which appeared bent on demolishing Manhattan and all of New York. Nothing the military was using would kill the beast so the plan was to nuke NYC (which we never see).

Though rather dry and late with substance, there were some noble moments to the plot and story. Rob unselfishly rescued his previous partner from the skyscraper rubble left by the beast. In addition there were some other quality performances maybe as good as seasoned thespians. But it still isn't worth the price of rental and the fuel to get it. And it leaves the monster alive.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
There is enough violence in this film to easily be equivalent to the magnitude of violence in most R-rated films: beast attacks with gore; death resulting from possession of the victim with parasites from the beast; terror turmoil, chaos and more. Violence is contagious folks, is enticing. Whether it be by man or beast, violence leaves an indelible impression. [Prov. 16:29]

Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
Profanity is used often, about 32 times per hour. That is about once every two minutes, sometimes in rapid-fire succession. And one of the words of profanity is the most foul of the foul words though it is used only once. What a fine example of violation of God's Word! [Col. 3:8, Prov. 22:11, Prov. 8:13, 1 Cor. 15:33] If it bothers you to know that many 13 years olds talk the way they do (especially on the school bus), at least now you have a good idea why.

Sexual Immorality (S) - 35 out of 100
Other than Murder/Suicide this is the only investigation area that did not find enough contempt for God's Word to earn a zero area score. However, it does contain enough assaults on sexual morality to earn an area score equivalent to most R-rated films. There is much talk of sexually immoral behavior such as cohabitation and treating immoral sex as casual, e.g., a going away gift. [Deut. 22:29, Gen. 34:7, 1Ths. 4:1-5]

Drugs/Alcohol (D) - Zero out of 100
This film is a drinkfest for the first third or so. The American College of Physicians (ACP) has found that exposure to booze and drinking in and as entertainment emboldens the viewer, in particular the middle school age stratum, the PG and PG-13 age stratum, to challenge the law and experiment with alcohol.

Though the ACP study used R-rated films since it was believed R-rated films contained the most drinking, the focus is on the influence of exposure to alcohol in and as entertainment regardless of the film rating. Besides, the ACP researchers were not aware of R-13 which defeats the assumption that R-rated films present the most drinking and drunkenness. A finding by Harvard University agreed with our R-13 finding four years after our finding.

Within the ACP study population of 4544 middle school students (90% were under fourteen years old), the prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was

  • 46% for those with no restrictions on which rating may be viewed
  • 16% for those with partial restrictions on which rating may be viewed
  • four percent for those with complete restrictions.

    Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say? [Eph. 5:18] And emboldening children to sin with drink in and as entertainment screams of violating Luke 17:2.

    Offense to God (O) - Zero out of 100
    God's name is abused at least 65 times in the course of this 72-minute film, nearly once per minute. Two of those 65 times were with the four letter expletive, both by a military sergeant. God is rather serious about using His name in vain. [Deut. 5:11]

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
    Though there were many deaths found by the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area, there were no murders or suicides noted.


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  • Prov. 16:29 A violent man entices his neighbor and leads him down a path that is not good. [The issue is the violence, no matter how "small" it might seem, and its effect on an observer. "A violent man" can be a man, woman OR the men/women/characters demonstrating the violent behavior/action on the screen. Knowing of Prov. 16:29 you now know why violence, especially in and as entertainment, can embolden the viewer into aggression, especially youth. See also Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit. Further, God speaks darkly of violence 56 times in the Old and New Testament of the KJV. And see 1 Cor. 15:33 below.]
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy (injurious speech, slander in this use), filthy communication [aischrologia: foul speaking, low and obscene] out of your mouth.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Prov. 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. [By the way, to "fear" (yir'ah) the Lord does not mean be afraid of Him (unless you are against Him). See our publication Fear of God for more information. I "fear" God, but I am not afraid of Him.
  • Deut. 22:29 {The man who has immoral sex with a woman} shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. [Paraphrased, if a couple have sex before marriage, they must marry and stay married for the rest of their lives.]
  • Gen. 34:7 Now Jacob's sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter -a thing that should not be done. [If intercourse outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage was sinful in the days of Genesis, how is it that it is okay today?]
  • 1Ths. 4:1-5 Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his [or her] own body [which includes control of drives, touching, seeking, lusting (even after images), promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; [Be master of your body and urges, not a slave to them. Be not a seeker of any manner of sexually-oriented imagery or behavior outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage. For any sexual contact (including visual), conduct or activity outside of a monogamous heterosexual marriage is sinful.]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. [Since "drunk" is methusko {meth-oos'-ko}: to intoxicate; make drunk; to get drunk; become intoxicated, "wine" can be any intoxicating substance including illegal drugs or abuse of prescription drugs. The issue is do not abuse the body by intoxicating it [1 Cor. 6:19]. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk OR to influence to get drunk OR to drink in defiance such as underage drinking.
  • 1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him [or her] guiltless that taketh His name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or responsible discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name or title.]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Jer. 37:9 This is what the LORD says: Do not deceive yourselves, thinking, 'The Babylonians [the destroyers from within] will surely leave us.' They will not!
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil [kakov: of a bad nature, not such as it ought to be] communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among us], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. [Offend: skandalizo {skan-dal-id'-zo} - scandalize; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away.]
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary / Commentary section.)

    Cloverfield (2008) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W) - Zero out of 100
  • terror turmoil of varying intensities, repeatedly
  • disaster aftermath, repeatedly
  • beast attack of varying intensities, repeatedly
  • looting, repeatedly
  • military aggression, repeatedly
  • deaths by beast attack, repeatedly
  • gore, repeatedly
  • chaos, repeatedly

    Impudence/Hate (I) - Zero out of 100
  • 40 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary plus the most foul of the foul words once

    Sexual Immorality (S) - 35 out of 100
  • nude woman in bed after overnight cohabitation
  • excessive cleavage
  • talk of immoral sex, repeatedly
  • treating immoral sex as casual encounter such as a going away gift, repeatedly
  • homosexual suggestion
  • camera angle/pose to force viewer on private parts

    Drugs/Alcohol (D) - Zero out of 100
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • booze, repeatedly
  • bar, repeatedly
  • drunkenness

    Offense to God (O) - Zero out of 100
  • 65 uses of God's name in vain, twice with the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M) - 100 out of 100
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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