Film Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane cast 2016

Title – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Director – Dan Trachtenberg (feature debut)

Cast – Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.

Plot – Soon after being involved in a car accident, Michelle (Winstead) finds herself in an underground bunker belonging to the mysterious Howard (Goodman) who tells Michelle of an Earth shattering attack that has left the outside world in an unliveable state.

“Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come”

Review by Eddie on 16/03/2016

What a strange situation one finds themselves in when talking about a film like 10 Cloverfield Lane, one that somehow, in today’s climate of information overload, managed to remain secret until launching during this year’s Superbowl extravaganza despite it being a sequel/prequel or who-really-knows-what to 2008’s Cloverfield.

Produced by the frequently busy and impressively consistent J.J Abrams, 10 Cloverfield Lane is easily one of the most mysterious releases of recent times and benefits greatly from its short life in the public exposure spotlight before releasing late last week, as it is a story and experience that is best watched how it was intended to be: with as little foresight into its goings on as possible. While the film is by no means earth-shatteringly good, it’s an effective thriller that acts as a fine companion piece to its shaky cam for-bearer.

Ditching the format of Matt Reeves original film, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a much more intimate and confined story that is every bit as mysterious as the film’s conception. Without giving the it’s subtle twists and turns away, at its core Lane is the story of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle who finds herself underground and sheltered from a supposedly earth shattering attack by John Goodman’s conspiracy theory loving, ex-Navy vet Howard, who has long been preparing for the end of days. Joining the mismatched duo is John Gallagher Jr’s Emmett, a kindly farmer type that helped build Howard’s shelter, and we therefore have our players in this fingernail chewing narrative.

First time feature length director Dan Trachtenberg and screenwriters including Whiplash director Damien Chazelle do fine jobs of hiding the relatively simple set up of the film, by using a clever pacing and gradual reveal of character motivations and traits, and for the film’s opening third that is totally dominated by an awards worthy turn from a scarily good John Goodman. Lane is an absorbing watch let down only by some questionable decision making and a final 20 minutes that undoes much of the film’s groundwork that was so successfully laid, and with that a slight feeling of disappointment lingers as the credits roll on and we’re left to reminisce about the movie’s earlier glories.

Those expecting 10 Cloverfield Lane to be cut from the same cloth as its namesake will be disappointed, but within this often tense and finely tuned thriller is an impressively taut tale that’s bought to life brilliantly by Goodman (who hasn’t been better in years) and to a lesser extent leading lady Winstead who keeps threatening to really break out with each passing project.

It’s a joy overall to sit back and watch a film you know very little about, and without the usually strong expectations of yearlong marketing campaigns at its back 10 Cloverfield Lane is an enjoyable success let down somewhat by an ending better suited to another film and decision making by its characters that at times ruin the films good work.

3 unfinished cat puzzles out of 5

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6 responses to “Film Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

  1. I agree, the pacing of the movie was well made until the last half hour or so, I felt like I was watching a different movie and i didn’t like it as much after awhile.

    I would have happily watched the ‘scary’ Goodman be just that and have a thriller movie out of it, since it had that vibe but i forgot it was meant to be sci -fi, but none the less it was enjoyable for the most part.

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