Much better than it’s predecessor. Psychological Mystery at It’s Finest

10 cloverfield lane

 

Science Fiction films, they can take the shape and form of just about anything these days. Back in 2008, a found footage film entitled Cloverfield was unleashed onto the world that left many in a daze of confusion. After the conclusion of the film, and a nightmarish camera work, many weren’t expecting a continuation of this series. Yet instead of dying out, it seems Abrams‘ production company had other ideas and secretly worked on a “blood relative” sequel to Cloverfield. This weekend we get to see the results of their work in the form of 10 Cloverfield Lane. Let’s see what madness they have cooking.

 

When you see the trailer, you see that this sequel looks nothing like its predecessor. The plot centers on Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a young woman who is caught up in a bad accident. She awakes in a bunker alongside a country farmhand named Emmet (John Gallagher Jr.) and a paranoid former marine named Howard (John Goodman). The excuse for the safe house is that the world has succumbed to an attack that resulted in the air being too toxic to breathe. Yet is there really a threat outside or is it all in Howard’s head.

 

Doesn’t sound like the most exciting plot huh? Well you are correct. 10 Cloverfield certainly lacks the exciting pace of this film as they trade running through a devastated city for sitting in a bunker. Yet despite this trade, the story remains interesting due to the mystery that lies within it. Is the world really in an uninhabitable state, or is this just Howard’s paranoia weaving a tale to keep prisoners. This question kept me engaged into the plot, my mind always trying to uncover clues that hinted at the answers. The suspense continues to build through the movie, steadily growing with the tension as Michelle slowly uncovers the truth of the situation. Eventually the situation comes to full boil and provides the connections you are looking for in regards to its place in the Cloverfield universe.

 

Still sound boring? Well fortunately Trachtenberg’s direction provided some horror elements to the mix as well. The psychological terror of Howard further builds the intensity, making you wonder when he will snap. And it is the realism of the terror that truly keeps you on the edge and drops the cheesy scares that most other horror movies choose to use. But while direction is key to keeping the movie organized, it is the actors that are responsible for bringing the scenes to life.

 

And it is the acting component that shines the most for me in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Goodman is still as impressive as always, the roles he continues to tackle proving he is a fantatic actor. He nails the borderline psychotic, lacing his lines with that quiet, subtle whisper that mimics his instability. Even his nonverbal acting is on point as he brings a haunted look to his face that brings shiver to the spine. Winstead also brings her character to life, adding edge to a role that could have been very monochromatic. Michelle’s character required a lot of different emotions, and Winstead brings it all out in full force. As for Gallagher, he was very convincing in his role, but it just wasn’t a part that really stood out to me, pretty much only a nice medium to add a little more complexity to the film.

 

In terms of weaknesses what can be said about 10 Cloverfield lane. First off the plot is a little slow at the start and focuses more on the psychological components of the film. While it was certainly important, it was a little boring for me. The second big complaint I had was the tie in with the series. I’ll admit it is fitting and stays in spirit with the themes of the movie. However, when compared to the theme of the film, the last part felt a little out of place for me and took the movie in a different direction for the last fifteen minutes. I guess they have to set up the next film, but still all of the tricks pulled out of this film were a little too corny at times.

 

Overall this follow up was much better than I anticipated. It is suspenseful, it’s intriguing, and even more it’s terrifying to watch the drama unfold. A fantastic cast brings all of this to life and plays their roles so well you might fin it disturbing to watch. Therefore those with weak constitutions and unable to watch some intense crime drama scenes should maybe skip this trip. However, I encourage everyone who is a fan of Sci or mysteries to give this film a try and get a dose of suspense yourself, though may not be theater worthy in the grand scheme of things.

 

Overall my scores are:

 

Drama/Sci-Fi/Mystery: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

 

 

 

You Can’t Regift This Film

Love the Coopers

            Better late than never I always say! Hi I’m Robbie K and this review is on a comedy designed to be a holiday treat for the bunch. The name of the movie is Love the Coopers, which from the trailers looked to be packed with stars who were ready to make you bust a gut with lots of laughs. Of course…we do know that multiple big names in one movie often leads to disaster in terms of quality and plot (Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve anyone?). Anyway, let’s get started on the review.

 

For a comedy, Love the Coopers has a bit more wit involved in terms of making you laugh. By wit I don’t mean the dry comedy that you have to be in the loop to understand, but more so in how well it is integrated into the story. The dialogue happens naturally, flowing into the normal routine instead of shoving a comedic ploy into our faces. In addition the variety of the jokes helped keep the movie fresh and fun, ranging from sexual innuendos and first time kisses to insults and the art of lying. Even better was how all of these jokes fit into place and worked with the individual’s story to further maximize the timing. And yet I think all of it would have failed had it not been for the actor’s delivery. Whether it was John Goodman’s sarcasm, Olivia Wilde’s angst and attitude, or June Squibb playing the clueless aunt it all was maximized by how well they sold the lines. Or in some cases it might have just been a facial expression that got me laughing, primarily from Rags the dog who continues to take the drama and roll with it in some way.

 

So strong comedy must mean good story right? Wrong! Love the Coopers’ plot was very lacking in entertainment for this reviewer. As I feared, the tale was very fragmented with multiple mini-plot lines slowly converging until they all meet in the end. This tactic has worked in the past, but like most modern comedies, they lack balance. Some of these plot lines are strong, taking constant screen time and establishing the backbone. Others however would have their 15 minutes of fame and then not be seen for some time, often hastily concluded with the reunion of plot lines. Fortunately it’s all wrapped in a nice Christmas package, however untraditional it is. This isn’t the run of the mill, feel good movie that you see on Hallmark though, but instead one that uses the Holiday as a means for character evaluation. Love the Coopers is actually a downer, especially at the beginning where all the problems come to light. Thus with the poor plot and depressing tone, I felt this movie dragged at a lot of the parts, making the 107 minutes feel more like 180 minutes. I’ll admit I nearly nodded off a few times as well, so that might be something to take to mind. No surprise…everything comes full circle in the end and you’ll get some grand lessons if you keep your mind open, but it certainly isn’t the most moving piece I’ve seen.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the actors really are the strongest part of this movie. John Goodman was my particular favorite as the big man continues to impress me with his wide spectrum of characters. He’s funny, serious, and keeps the stories tethered together and plays exactly like the stereotypical head of the household. Diane Keaton unfortunately was not in my favor this time not so much for her acting, but that her character was so annoying. She’s a good counter to Goodman’s calmness and a great source of drama, but it was a little too much for me. Olivia Wilde steps back in the light with a decent role that combines sexuality with mischief and uses her gorgeous looks to complete the character. Ed Helms is a little more down to Earth in this film, trading in overacted arrogance and stupidity for a more believable character. It was nice getting to see a more serious side of things, and helps add a bit of awkwardness to an otherwise cut and dry family. Alan Arkin is great as always, though underutilized in my opinion and would have been great to have a few more quips and lessons to add to the mix. Heck even the kids impressed me with how fitting their characters were taking components of a Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and a Hallmark kid and wrapping it into one. And Steve Martin as the narrator added a nice tree topper, fitting right in line with the various narrators of classic Christmas stories.

 

Love the Coopers is an okay film, but certainly isn’t your run of the mill Christmas tale. Sure the comedy was a nice variation, and the acting certainly made the characters alive and relevant. Unfortunately this movie was just too monotonous, long-winded and depressing to make this movie fully entertaining. I’m sure you can guess from my review that this movie really isn’t worth the trip to the theater, not only due to lack of entertainment but also a lack of special effects. Therefore this reviewer recommends skipping this movie at the time and finding an alternative to this movie.

 

My scores for this film are:

 

Comedy: 6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0