I owe you all an apology, I got home from London Has Fallen last week and didn’t have the energy to write a review that night. The next day I still didn’t. The day after still no. I realized the movie was that mediocre that I had no energy to write it because I didn’t care enough. The action was ok. The effects were on the whole cheap. The tension was laughable. The acting, you don’t watch London Has Fallen for acting. You just watch it to see Gerard Butler kick butt – which he does. So there’s that.
Now during the Superbowl this year they revealed a trailer for a movie almost no one had heard of called 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s rare in this day and age for a production to stay under the radar. Seeing the first trailer without any media hype a mere month and a half prior to the films release on something with names attached is even more unheard of. Then using the Cloverfield name in conjunction with J.J. Abrams automatically begins to conjures questions?
“Is it a sequel?”
“Is a prequel?”
“Is it tandem?”
“How is it related to the blockbuster first film?”
The producers then use that media buzz to let people talk about the movie – which is a smart play. They also spend their time answering all of those above questions “No it isn’t”. JJ has lied to us before (It’s not Khan) and cannot be trusted in that regard when it comes to a production. Why else call it Cloverfield when you have all the same names attached? “It’s a spiritual successor”, is a cheap answer. My feeling is that they wanted to created an anthology of movies around the “Cloverfield” conceit; which by it’s nature of real people in completely whacked out situations would wear thin. I mean the idea has merit once or twice, but to franchise the concept of Cloverfield can’t possibly work in the long term as a film series as you then need to spend time getting us to care (or not) about the characters then eventually have a reveal to the scale of their situation. Much like Shyamalan and his twists, when people come to expect them they spend the entire movie looking for the twist which then takes the wind out of it when it appears even if it is done intelligently.
400 words in and I haven’t discussed the movie I just watched. I’ve talked Hollywood, a movie I didn’t care to review to warn you to see or away from because it was that mediocre, JJ Abrams, and the concepts of how to build a franchise. I am really avoiding talking about the movie.
I didn’t like it. I wanted to. I really wanted to. I *like* the original Cloverfield. I didn’t get sick watching it. I liked the look of the monster. I cared about the characters and wanted to see Rob get to his girlfriend and them escape the monster. I wanted to see this and see how it ended.
I didn’t care here. The acting was fantastic. John Goodman was in full heavy mode and brought his impressive abilities to bear in a purely one dimensional role. He made it something more by using his physical presence and his acting to try to make it more than what was written. Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character of Michelle was engaging. She was smart, she was willful, and clever. I have liked her since Wolf Lake, Sky High, and thought her Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim was on point. She didn’t do anything out of character, she didn’t turn into a “Final Girl” she just was. It worked and I liked her. John Gallagher Jr. as Emmet was a solid everyman. I went to school with people like him, I’ve worked with folks like him. The acting was FINE. It was Solid. It was Good.
What they had to work with sucked. There’s no twists. The tension doesn’t hold because they let you see some of the elements too early. They, being Matthew Stuecken (producer of GI Joe Rise of the Cobra and the Mummy 3), Josh Campbell (editor of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Van Helsing), and Damien Chazelle (writer of Whiplash) have invoked the three writer rule. I lay blame on Dan Trachtenberg, in his big screen directorial debut, as well. They give you too much too soon of the wrong elements and it takes away from the movie. It breaks rather than builds the tension because you become certain of things and those things are only solidified rather than challenged when opportunity presented itself.
I verge into spoiler territory if I say more, and even though I dislike the film I need to keep to the rules.
If the intent here was to give novice writers and directors a chance to tell a story within the guardrails of a type of universe under the watchful eye of successful novices such as Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) and Drew Goddard (The Martian, Cabin in the Woods), and Bryan Burk (Star Wars the Force Awakens), then I feel they failed. They succeeded in the attempt, but they failed in the guidance. I found nothing beyond the acting enjoyable here. The movie struck emotional chords in the performances, but gave nothing else for me to do with them. It was not well constructed or articulated.
If anything I would compare it to…hmm no. That would be a spoiler.
Don’t see it. Expect more from your sci fi. Expect more from your movies. They need to try harder.
This was an attempt to do something original, for that I could praise it, but when we have things like The VVitch out there which also do original and do it better. We need to expect more.
Do I recommend it? No. Save your money.
Will I buy it? No.
Next two weeks have a chance to give some enjoyment with Allegiant and Superman v Batman. Here’s hoping.