Cloverfield directed by Matt Reeves:
Done in the style of The Blair Witch Project, all shaky camera shots, it is another film in the J.J. Abrams (producer) stable of films. Combine that with New York City and a monster akin to Godzilla and you have Cloverfield. Odd film name. It was not one that I had many expectations about so was pleasantly surprised with it. Loads of fun and tension add up to a worthwhile watch.
A strength is that just when you you have been lulled into a sense of security it springs something surprising on you. Things come out of left field. A frustration is the lightness in regards to explanations. No explaining where the monster might have come from or what it is trying to do in New York City. So just stay away from trying to figure things out and just enjoy the rather bumpy ride.
Curiosity is peaked during several points of the film. Images appear with no seeming rhyme or reason. The Statue of Liberty with its head chopped off. The Brooklyn Bridge wrecked. A flash of some kind of monster. People running in the streets. Tension. Curiousity. Questions.
Another plus is that the film is rather short. It just gets about accomplishing what it sets out to with precious little fat. Action comes fast and furious. The pace is always kept up. Special effects are rather cool.
Not a film that is about something deep and meaningful. More in the exciting and fun category. Though you will have you thinking about it long afterwards. Trying to figure things out.
-Commentary by Director Matt Reeves
-Special Investigation Mode
-Document 01.18.08 The Making of Cloverfield
-Cloverfield Visual Effects
-I Saw It! It’s Huge!
-Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
-Alternate Endings with Optional Commentary
10 Cloverfield Lane directed by Dan Trachtenberg:
Driving in her car late at night, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Live Free or Die Hard, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) keeps getting phone calls from her boyfriend Ben (voiced by Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). They are obviously having a fight and Michelle is upset. Maybe distracted a little she soon finds herself in a bad car crash. Upon waking she is in a room with no windows with a head wound and a makeshift brace on one knee and chained to the wall. Needless to say, she is totally disoriented.
While trying to escape, a man comes downstairs and tells her she was in a car accident and he saved her. Wanting to know why she isn’t in a hospital and chained to the wall, he explains that they are in an underground bunker he has built and cannot go above ground as there has been an apocalyptic attack making it not safe. Along with air not being breathable. The outside world is not livable and as such everyone is dead. Initially, Michelle does not believe him and tries to escape.
While attempting this Michelle discovers that there is another man being held in the bunker with her and that Howard (John Goodman – from television’s Roseanne) is telling the truth about the outside world. She resigns herself to living underground with Howard and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr. – from television’s The Newsroom) and the three settle into an almost family-like routine.
After discovering something Michelle comes to the conclusion that Howard might not be telling her the truth. She, along with Emmett, plots an escape.
When you see that J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Trek Beyond) is a producer on this film you kinda have a window into what type of film it is going to be. Meaning the subject matter. He is a man who is obsessed with sci fi and aliens/creatures. That is always in the back of your mind when you are watching a film he is involved in whether as a producer or director. Plus he was a producer on the film Cloverfield which dealt with a giant Godzilla-like monster, so you are prepared for what is headed your way. Though the writers, there are several including Oscar Award-winner Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land), are able to keep you guessing about what is to come and as a result the tension also remains high.
Cloverfield, released in 2008, was a really well done, fun film. So you hope that this sequel (?) or prequel (?) is up to its standards. You hope it involves the same tension and action. Thankfully this is the case.
You spend almost the whole film wondering what the “truth” is about what is going on. Is it that Howard is crazy and lying? Has he killed his daughter? Does he even have a daughter. Has there been an attack on the United States? Is it an alien invasion? What is happening above ground?
Debut director Dan Trachtenberg (directed an episode of Black Mirror) is totally committed to the idea of the film. You can feel that in every scene. That along with face acting done by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who does not have tons of dialogue, creates a lot of the tension required to make the film a success.
-Commentary by Director Dan Trachtenberg and Producer JJ Abrams
-Duck and Cover
-End of Story
The Cloverfield Paradox directed by Julius Onah:
Despite some high end acting talent this the third film in the Cloverfield stable does not add up to the previous two. Golden Globe winner David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the highly likeable Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, and Daniel Bruhl make up a large part of the primary cast. They all are excellent actors, but even the best of actors need a quality script in combination with a director’s vision.
Earth is on the verge of a world war starting. Energy shortage is causing plenty of tension. In order to try and avoid that an international group of scientists begin working together. They come up with something which would provide unlimited power and a team is assembled in order to test the device. The downside to the device is that it could trap all in an alternate reality.
While orbiting Earth to test the Shepard particle accelerator trouble happens. Something goes wrong with the experiment and the station is damaged. This causes a portal to another dimension to open. Within the bulkhead of the station they find a woman wrapped up in wires. Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki – Widows, Everest) tells them she was working on a Cloverfield station in another dimension and now finds herself with them. Who is where? And how do they get back?
A strong sense of dread is built up, but never really comes off. Disappointing. Weirdness does, but no payoff on the dread. It just fizzles out. Which is too bad because the concept it is all built upon is not the worst idea. Particle accelerators and portals to another dimension does make the hair stand up on the arms of most who are being honest about it. It is a concept that is out there though built on enough reality to make it verge on plausible.
Maybe the problem here was being overly ambitious. Really wanting to make a link with the other Cloverfield films. Forcing the matter. That along with the impossible things that happen which even non-science folk like myself could point out (like how gravity works…uh, not like that…at all) really takes you out of the film. When this happens in combination with all together too many cliches of the genre it makes the eye rolling moments greatly outnumber the smiles.
-Things Are Not As They Appear: The Making of The Cloverfield Paradox
-Shepard Team: The Cast