8.5 out of 10
John Goodman as Howard
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle
John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett
Douglas M. Griffin as Driver
Suzanne Cryer as Woman
Bradley Cooper as Ben
Sumalee Montano as Voice on Radio (voice)
Frank Mottek as Radio Broadcaster
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
10 Cloverfield Lane Review:
You don’t need to have seen Cloverfield to enjoy the standalone 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s a fun and tense film led by John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a great debut by director Dan Trachtenberg. See it on the big screen with an audience for best effect.
After breaking up with her fiancé, Michelle hits the road in rural Louisiana. But along the way, her car is hit and knocked off of the road in a serious accident.
Sometime later, Michelle awakens in a cinder block room with her wounds treated and her leg chained to the wall. In utter panic, she tries to escape until she meets her captor, an older man named Howard. However, he makes an extraordinary claim – that he’s her savior, not her captor.
Howard explains that there was some sort of attack on the outside world. Everyone is now dead and he, Michelle, and another survivor named Emmett are the few remaining humans inside his underground bunker. A fanatical survivalist, he was one of the few people ready for any kind of attack. As Michelle takes stock of her situation, she has to decide are the real monsters outside or locked in the shelter with her?
10 Cloverfield Lane is rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language.
The less you know going into 10 Cloverfield Lane, the more you will enjoy it. I went in only having seen the trailer and that was enough for me. Honestly, I kind of wish I hadn’t seen even that. But I would advise you to stop reading now, go see the movie with a big audience, then come back and read this review. You’ll enjoy it more.
Still here? Well, I’ll carry on and avoid spoilers.
While this movie is sort of advertised as a sequel to the 2008 giant monster movie Cloverfield, I walked out not being 100% sure that it actually was. You don’t need to have seen that film to follow this one. 10 Cloverfield Lane is pretty much standalone. And that’s a good thing for new viewers, but it may hurt them at the box office as people avoid it thinking it’s simply a sequel. It’s more than that.
This is the debut film for director Dan Trachtenberg and it’s an impressive one. He handles quiet, character-building scenes well. He executes tense dramatic scenes like a pro. And when things get especially crazy in the big finale, Trachtenberg shows he also knows how to film action and special effects. 10 Cloverfield Lane is going to open a lot of doors (or should I say portals?) for this newcomer director and it will be interesting to see where he goes next.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a seasoned pro, but this movie proves yet again that she’s a solid leading actress. As Michelle she’s tough, yet vulnerable. She’s thrown in extraordinary situations yet she comes across as a real world woman. The audience is drawn to her and cheers her on as she faces the various monsters of this story. Equally as impressive is John Goodman as Howard. He’s been in movies and television so often it’s easy to take his talents for granted, but he grabs the attention of the audience from the moment he appears on the screen and doesn’t let go until the very end. Few actors are able to play a teddy bear and a psychopath with such ease, but Goodman manages it with no problem whatsoever. And it’s his ability to do that which keeps the audience guessing if he’s a good guy or bad guy till very late in the story. John Gallagher Jr. is also noteworthy as Emmett. He provides some much needed comic relief in an otherwise very tense drama, but his character still has some weight that keeps him from being solely a clown. We become invested in his character and his fate along with Michelle and Howard.
Sometimes when watching movies, the audience can be annoying. There’s the chatter, the toddlers brought to R-rated movies, the cell phones, the kicked seats… you know how it is. But this movie is a fun one to see with an audience. There was one scene where something jumped towards Michelle and I’ve rarely heard an audience scream in terror like they did at that moment. And it was primarily because they were so invested in the character and her plight that they forgot they were watching a movie. That’s what makes it fun.
What Didn’t Work:
While this is kinda sorta a Cloverfield sequel, it is very, very apparent that this was originally a script for another movie with some elements tacked on to the end to make them a little related. While I was 100% fine with that and loved the ending, I’ve already seen some critics bashing it for this. While I don’t agree with them that it in any way ruined the movie, I do have to agree that it feels like two completely different films stitched together. Lucky for me, I happen to really enjoy both of those two different films.
Despite the great lengths taken to keep this film under wraps, I did feel like the trailers spoiled a few key moments. I won’t reinforce them here, but I knew certain moments were coming simply from having watched the trailer and nothing else. I’m not sure what else they could have done to keep those moments secret. After all, they have to promote the film. But I found it odd that with all these secretive efforts, they chose those moments to show.
The Bottom Line:
Sometimes when I screen a movie, I’m perfectly fine if I never see that movie again. Other times I do want to go back and pay money to see it a second time. But 10 Cloverfield Lane is one I not only want to see again, but I want to take friends and family along to see how they react to the twists and turns the story takes. So I definitely recommend you take time out of your spring break to go see it on the big screen.
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