Friday, December 9, 2016

Film Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Land (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: FandangoNow
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it was ultimately underwhelming and disappointing."

After a car accident, a woman awakens in a bunker with two men who claim the world has suffered from a unprecedented chemical attack...

10 Cloverfield Lane follows Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is running away from her fiance. She is hit by another vehicle, then she awakens in the bunker. In the bunker, she meets Howard (John Goodman), the austere owner of the bunker, and Emmet, one of Howard's willfully ignorant employees. So, afraid she has been abducted by Howard, Michelle tries to find a way to escape – over and over again. There are some twists here and there, but it mostly plays by all of the rules. I must say, I was very surprised by the predictable ending because it was so damn predictable. Perhaps it was all the hype I remembered from the commercials when this first released, but the ending was painfully generic and lackluster.

10 Cloverfield Land didn't do it for me. I liked the concept, especially during the first half of the film. The idea alone creates a sense of paranoia. Did something really happen outside? Is Howard who he says he is? These questions, among others, also create some suspense. It's not a nail-biting thriller, but it's enough to keep you engaged – barely. The bigger issue comes from the answers to said questions. One answer is surprising, but it doesn't really resonate. The other answer is painfully generic, playing by the rules it pretended to break. I was utterly disappointed by the end. I wasn't a big fan of the characters, either, which is also bad because it's reliant on character more than anything. Michelle and Emmet are just boring. Howard, thanks to Goodman's performance, is versatile and even charismatic. Everyone else? Dull, generic, and even occasionally annoying.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a decent leading lady. I felt like she was a bit overdone at times, coming off as unnatural, but she was okay – not bad. John Goodman steals the show, delivering a powerful but composed performance. The film looks and sounds good. It's not a J. J. Abrams movie, but it looks and sounds like one. The film was written by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken, and directed by Dan Trachtenberg. The writing is decent, but the plot feels stretched and repetitive. Like many films, this feels like it would have worked better as a short film. Trachtenberg is able to conjure a sense of paranoia, but he's not able to keep the suspense afloat for the full 100-minute runtime. This leave the film vulnerable to boredom at times.

Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a mediocre film. Perhaps it was the massive hype other 'official' critics built with their praise, but it was ultimately underwhelming and disappointing. Goodman's performance and Trachtenberg's direction are the silver lining, but they don't offer quite enough to justify a 100-minute runtime. And, just as a final note for viewers like me: the ending is not as surprising as some people say it is. The title ruins any surprise it could have ever had.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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