The Captain takes a look at Bad Robot’s 10 Cloverfield Lane. Will he enjoy it as much as I did the script?
Saint Patrick’s Day special review!
Okay, maybe it’s just a coincidence this review is landing on Saint Paddy’s Day. Nope, totally planned. Totally didn’t just find out what day it was because google’s icon became a shamrock. I mean, they could have been doing homage to Silver Shamrock from Halloween 3 for all I know.
I guess I should warn you now, this review will contain spoilers. I want to maybe not to, but if you’ve ever read anything that might be considered a review, I spoil shit. Hell, I still get comments on Youtube for spoiling the idiotic “twist” in Goodnight Mommy. Nothing but hyperbole assholes there. Thankfully no one has told me to die yet on this site. Though I’m sure The Mighty Quinn has thought it.
It’s rare to have a film sneak up on me. Or really anyone these days. Everything is leaked, everything has at least something spoiled about it. How they managed to get this under the radar is a feat all on its own. Or maybe it snuck up on people because they slapped Cloverfield on a completely different unrelated script at the last minute.
But having said that, there are some big differences, after reading Hank’s review, I’ll make sure to point them out.
Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is a total unknown to me. I was looking at her resume on IMDB and nothing was sticking out.
Michelle is a bit older in the film than she was in the script. She’s about mid-twenties, lives in New York, has a fiancé or boyfriend or a Bradley Cooper. We never see him, only hear his voice over the phone.
She’s leaving him because of a fight they had. This is actually a great way to set up some character development. We know she is prone to packing up and running away when things get difficult. And yes, it actually pays off at the end.
As Michelle is leaving, there’s talk on the car radio about power outages, distracted by her cellphone, her car is crashed into, tossed off the road.
When she wakes, her leg is damaged (I want to say broken, but she seems fine after a while) and chained to a pipe in a creepy room. The only comforts being a gross mattress on the floor. She’s also half naked, so I’m sure about a million things would be bouncing around in your head right now. None of it good.
Then walks in John Goodman’s character Howard. The guy is like 6′ 2″ and has a few hundred pounds over her, you’d be a little terrified too. This is where he informs her she was in a car wreck and he saved her. Also, oh yeah, it’s the end of the world!
Thankfully she isn’t alone with just him, there’s also Emmett. His arm is broken, put in a sling. An accident he caused himself trying to get into the bunker. He was one of the workers who helped Howard build this thing they’re all taking shelter in. He actually saw the bombs drop. After that he begged Howard to let him in.
But the main focus of the film is really the power struggle between Howard and Michelle. It is pretty damn clear right off the bat something is seriously wrong with this dude. Besides the fact he has a bunker in his backyard. He’s also really into conspiracy theories and a strong believer in aliens.
In the first… first? In the other film also called Cloverfield you kind of see what looks to be a satellite falling from the sky, what some believe is what disturbed the monster. The connection here is that Howard worked for the military building, you guessed it, satellites. Is that a connection or just another coincidence?
There’s actually a really cool special feature on the Cloverfield dvd. It tells you just what the cloverfield monster kind of is and what its motivation is. It’s a baby. You can hear it yelling out, calling for its mother but us (the military) shooting it and blasting it with bombs. I don’t know, I thought it was kind of a cool fyi moment. Now back to a film that has absolutely nothing to do with Cloverfield!
So like I said, right off the bat you can tell somethin’ ain’t right with Howard. They take time to show his anger bubbling up to the surface, showing him tightening his fists, breathing a bit heavier. At times I thought the guy was going to transform into the incredible Hulk.
I think the best example or just a window into Howard’s creepy psyche is the scene all three of them are sitting around playing movie Pictionary. It’s Howard’s turn and his movie is Little Women. He gets little right, but has trouble with the word women. Emmett points to Michelle. And Howard’s guesses are “girl” and “princess”. The guy doesn’t even see her as an adult. I mean, he picked princess over woman. For me, I think that was kind of the creepiest thing about him. And maybe the most revealing.
He’s constantly mentioning his daughter whose name escapes me Meghan I think. He even shows Michelle a picture of her. In retrospect though that might not have been such a great idea, seeing as Emmett recognizes her as a girl who went missing a few years ago.
And that’s when things start falling into place about just who this guy is. He’s a serial killer. He ran Michelle off the road so he’d have someone to spend the end of the world with. I think maybe he must be trying to replace his daughter, but when they don’t play along, things get violent.
Knowing she can’t stay here, Michelle and Emmett plan to secretly build a hazmat suit out of a shower curtain and a couple of old soda bottles. This of course isn’t as farfetched as it might seem. It was established pretty early that she wanted to be a fashion designer. Howard also has a bunch of survival guide books just lying around the bunker.
But of course Howard catches on to their plan and shows them a giant tub of acid. If they don’t tell him what is going on, he is going to shove them in face first. Emmett steps up and takes the blame, getting shot in the face for his reward.
Now it’s just Michelle and Howard, the way he wanted in the first place. You can tell after that moment, Emmett was the real cause of Howard’s anger and frustration. Him being there meant Howard couldn’t be his true sick self. But with him now gone…
Okay, so now for what is going on outside. Even after hearing from Emmett that he saw the bombs drop, Michelle still isn’t convinced. At one point she even hears engines of a car or a plane driving by.
Trying to enrage Howard, she flirts with Emmett while they’re having dinner. Around Howard’s belt are the keys to the shelter’s hatch. Enraged, he pins her, and sneaks his keys away. She dashes to the front door when she runs into a woman banging to get in. Her face is covered in boils. Obviously something is happening. A chemical attack? Whatever it was it already killed these two pigs out back. Now this lady. The best option for now is to stick with the crazy guy. Of course this is all before you find out he’s a serial killer.
Not wanting to stick around after Emmett gets his face shot off, Michelle grabs her makeshift hazmat suit, stabs Howard, knocking him into the barrel of acid. And that is pretty much the end of his character.
So now the real spoilers and where things differ from the script greatly. So if you haven’t seen the film, maybe not bother with this half.
Michelle makes it to the surface when she sees birds flying in the sky. The air is clean. But then she notices something floating off in the distance.
It’s a UFO spaceship! Crazy ass Howard was right.
The UFO spots her and drops this doglike monster after her. The design of both the dog monster and ship were pretty cool. The ship is kind of this organic metal monster, like a flying cthulhu monster. As for the dog monster, it had a mouth inside its mouth that looked like the ass of a termite or an earth worth with sharp teeth. I’m sure there’s a better insect to compare it too, but I hate looking at pictures of bugs so I’m not going to try.
The ship it turns out, sprays this poisonous gas out of its ass, that was what killed that woman and those two pigs. The ships spray us like we spray cockroaches with Raid.
Michelle takes shelter in Howard’s truck, the one he used to run her off the road with. The giant ship monster picks up the ship and I guess is about to eat it when she tosses a bottle of booze she set on fire into its vagina mouth. She saw earlier that the gas it farts out is flammable, so… it explodes.
As she is leaving the farm house, driving down the road she hears on the radio that there are survivors, they’re fighting back and need people to join them. There’s also a safe place to hide out if she choices to do so.
And this brings me back to her character always running away from her problems. Taking everything she learned while in the bunker, she heads off to fight with the resistance.
I thought it was a pretty damn good movie. John Goodman is terrifying. And so damn creepy. He doesn’t just play Howard as this weirdo like Tim Robbins did in War of the Worlds.
The stuff at the end did feel kind of slapped on just a bit. You can obviously tell where the original script ended and JJ Abrams Bad Robot took over. But the thing is… I’ve seen the stuck in a bunker kind of film already. This really cool movie Hidden with Alexander Skarsgård did almost the same thing. A family is stuck in a tiny bunker, worried about the things up top. Really cool film with a really cool twist, check it out.
And there’s a few more just like it. The Divide is one, about a group of people getting stuck in a fallout shelter as nuclear war goes on outside.
I wonder if Blast from the Past with Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, and Christopher Walken counts.
Ok, show of hands for those who really want to see Blast from the Past now!
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