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Movie Review: Cloverfield & 10 Cloverfield Lane

WARNING: There will be spoilers, but let's face it. At this point, you have probably seen the movie already.

Once upon a time, there was this movie called Transformers. Everyone was probably excited because it's live action and it's directed by Michael Bay before we realized how bad that was going to be. Before the movie started, this small trailer popped up. It first showed what looked like a going away surprise party and everyone were saying their good byes and you see the man of the hour, Rob Hawkins, walking in to be surprised by all his friends. Then, the the next scene you see are the apartment lights going out and large rumbles. Everyone is confused and the next shot we see them up on the roof trying to find out if they can see anything until a large explosion erupts above New York City. They rush back into the complex and you see them back outside now on the streets. We see people running away, but all we hear is from a guy saying, "I saw, it's alive, it's huge!" The camera pans up to see something tossed towards a building revealing to be the head of the statue of liberty landing into the street and the last thing you hear is someone shouting, "Oh my god!" over and over again. It cuts to black only to reveal the date, 1-18-08 and no title. Ever since the very first trailer, the movie became the widely most talked about marketing campaign of 2007. People on the internet will rush to Youtube to watch the trailer repeatedly just so they can dissect it just to find clues as to what this mystery movie could be. Posters saying, "MONSTEROUS" and "SOMETHING HAS FOUND US" started appearing as well. The marketing campaign blew up from just one trailer that will lead to a series of websites that would piece together the movie's whole backstory as it was being unraveled like how the monster got there in the first place. As months past and by December we would finally get the final title of the movie, Cloverfield. By January 18, 2008, people will find out what this movie is about and what the monster would look like.

The story revolves around this guy, Rob Hawkins, that got a job with a Japanese company and all his friends were throwing a party for him until a monster started attacking New York City and becomes this man's rescue mission to save his girlfriend while avoiding the monster and the dog sized parasites that the monster carries. As far as it goes with the giant monster genre, this was very different from other monster movies since this was all shot as if it were on a hand held camera. Whenever I watch a monster movie for the first time, I always come out thinking it was pretty good, but 9 years has passed and I have been wondering if it still holds up today. For me, not so much. Over the years, the hand held style became more of a cliché thanks to movies like Paranormal Activity. We all basically get the gist of the what this style is going to come with. The camera is going to be shaky, you will hear people shouting "Oh my god!" a lot, and they would always try to hide the thing chasing the characters. The only scene missing to make this the ultimate cliché movie like every found footage movie is a scene where someone is angry at the camera man for still filming everything. I heard someone complain once that this movie reminded them of 9/11 and it was inappropriate. I can see the movie being like a metaphor for 9/11, but it isn't inappropriate at all. Monsters are always based on real life tragedies and Cloverfield handled that aspect well.

Producer, J. J. Abrams, explained the idea for Cloverfield that he was in Japan one time with his son and he sees all these toys for Godzilla and he had a thought about what if America had its own Godzilla. People even went ahead to start calling the monster, Mr. Grumpy Pants, because there was no official name given until later there were behind the scenes footage and interviews with the production team that they were calling it Clover as a codename. The name has stuck to this very day. The design of the monster is interesting in the fact that the monster's behavior is said to be like a baby animal's behavior towards its new environment. It's afraid and so it will lash out at anything to defend itself. As for the monster being America's own Godzilla while it does have a cult following, it is not going to be as well known. Godzilla and King Kong have been around for years because of sequels and reboots. While 10 Cloverfield Lane is in the same series, it is not in anyway a sequel to Cloverfield. Which brings me to the next film.

What makes me disappointed was that at the time of the movie's release, I was actually hoping a sequel would get made and like I mentioned above,10 Cloverfield Lane is not a direct sequel to Cloverfield. While most of that movie was well made for a suspense movie it only made me realize that this was going to be it for Cloverfield. The series itself is now going into the direction of a series that is more like The Twilight Zone where each movie is going to be a different story. While it can be an interesting concept for a TV series, it is not what I was hoping for in this movie. 10 Cloverfield Lane still had the marketing campaign to hunt for clues, but as the release date of the movie drew closer people figured out that this movie was not going to be a continuation at all.

I went to see this movie knowing somewhat about the marketing campaign, but I stopped following it after a while because I got bored of following it. I even heard about the leaks and only I have myself to blame for the disappointment. I went in taking in everything I knew about the movie with a grain of salt. Coming out made me feel pleased, but also annoyed that this movie would have done just as well as a stand alone film. In fact, this was originally going to be a stand alone film before J. J. Abrams stepped in. 

The movie is about Mary Elizabeth Winstead trapped in a bomb shelter with John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr not knowing to believe their story that there is some sort of attack going on outside. The story from the original script was more dark and ominous. The original script really played with the idea of which character is trustworthy and which one is not.10 Cloverfield Lane did not really go far into that idea as the original script. In10 Cloverfield Lane, it was always known that John Goodman's character was the one that shouldn't be trusted. What I liked most about 10 Cloverfield Lane was John Goodman's role as Howard, the conspiracy theorist. How he portrayed his character as this conspiracy theorist nutcase really carried most of the movie. He made the movie feel suspenseful when he is present. He is always suspicious of John Gallagher Jr., but also being this overprotective creeper with Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Once John Goodman is out of the movie all of that suspense just falls apart after revealing what was really going on outside the bomb shelter. The reveal was slapped on last minute and made the movie turn from a suspense movie to a generic sci-fi movie. There sort of was a monster, but not in the sense that this was a giant monster attack. The monster in the first movie did not make an appearance, but it had something else instead.

Overall, Cloverfield and10 Cloverfield Lane are not bad movies, but not great either. Cloverfield may have had a chance if a direct sequel was made and10 Cloverfield Lane would have been a really good suspense movie on its own if it was not part of the Cloverfield series. You don't need to follow the marketing campaign to watch Cloverfield, but it is a definite must if you need to understand10 Cloverfield Lane otherwise you will just be thrown curve ball twists like it is an M. Night Shyamalan movie. I suggest renting them if you are a fan of the found footage movies or suspense movies just to see if they are to your liking. I keep hearing about this movie called, God Particle, being the third movie in the series, but I am not so sure about that. In the meantime, we will wait and until more information appears.

What are your thoughts on the Cloverfield series? Have you seen any of them? If so, do you like the direction of each movie being a different story or would you rather see a direct sequel? Do you think God Particle is going to be the 3rd movie in the Cloverfield series?

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