The new film 10 Cloverfield Lane is a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Said to exist in the same universe as the 2008 sci-fi alien film Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane makes you wonder why it exists at all. If you have seen Cloverfield first, you will certainly leave the theater confused as to what you just watched. Don’t get me wrong, the performances are fantastic, but they are confined within a film with poor direction and plot so full of holes it becomes frustrating to watch.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is leaving her fiancé and fashion designing dream behind to build a new life elsewhere. While driving down a dark road, she gets is in a devastating accident and is knocked unconscious. When she awakens she finds she has been locked in an isolated room with no windows. She has no idea how she got to 10 Cloverfield Lane, but she is there, injured, but nothing critical. In comes Howard (John Goodman), who seems to have good intentions by saving Michelle’s life. Or does he? What ensues next is a game of cat and mouse with a rather silly twist the audience won’t see. Deadline says the film may surprise the audience, and thats true, but not in a good way.
Many critics have praised John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane. And while his performance is quite good, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is really the breakout star.
Being able to pull of a smart, and solid performance in a film with a shaky plot is no small task, but she does it with ease. Because of the thriller/sci-fi nature of the film, Winstead channels her inner Ellen Ripley, and gives the audience a bit of nostalgia. This is one of the best female protagonists I have seen in sci-fi in some time.
Winstead is slowly rising up the ladder to become one of Hollywood’s young rising stars. If she continues to deliver performances like this, it will happen in no time.
John Goodman has always delivered great performances. And 10 Cloverfield Lane is no different. What is different about this performance is the tone. This is unique for Goodman because he isn’t the lovable character he usually plays, or the gun toting bad guy.
Goodman steps out of his comfort zone in 10 Cloverfield Lane by delivering a complex, mysterious, and often creepy performance reminiscent of Kathy Bates Misery.
While Goodman and Winstead give top-notch performances, the 10 Cloverfield Lane plot can’t keep up with its talent. First time director, Dan Trachtenberg, doesn’t exactly present anything creative or interesting with his direction. Which is fine, but I believe it left the audience a bit bored. I do applaud Trachtenberg for trying to keep up with a story.
The writers of 10 Cloverfield Lane, Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken, present a story with promise, but it later falls flat due to goofy plot holes and uncertainty. The film starts off like a play. There is slow building tension that climaxes in a clumsy manner. According to the official movie website, the logline, “Monsters Come in Many Forms,” is fairly deceptive, especially to those who haven’t seen the first Cloverfield movie. The film also waits just a tad too late to reveal what or who this “monster” really is, which is also very anti-climactic.
Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an enjoyable film, with some severe plot holes that are not easy to downplay. Producer J.J. Abrams has a tendency to reveal necessary information a little too late, and although he did not direct 10 Cloverfield Lane, you can feel his presence throughout. If you are looking for a film that is similar to the original Cloverfield film, this is not for you. But If you can vibe with its slow, yet mysterious nature you may leave the theater satisfied.
[Image via Bad Robot Productions]