I was among the few who really enjoyed the first Cloverfield movie. It was heavily criticized for utilizing a found footage, shaky cam style to tell its story. That aside, I thought it was a well paced film that succeeded in creating engaging characters, a plot that made sense, and just enough giant monster chaos to satisfy this Kaiju lover. The latest Godzilla movie failed in all of those areas, for me. So this it’s high praise for me to say Cloverfield got it right.
10 Cloverfield lane, on the other hand, is cut from a new breed of “smart” films that I find ultimately unsatisfying. Ex Machina is another of these films. The scripts are so air tight, so contrived that their total lack of plot holes creates a boring experience for me. They’re like the perfect puzzle. No piece missing. No breath. No life.
Everything in 10 Cloverfield lane (except for John Goodman’s brilliant performance), all of the twists, turns, clues, swerves and reveals are precisely timed, delivered without flaw, one after another, after another until the finish. Much like the protagonist (or is she the antagonist?) in Ex Machina, these films feel void of substance. They come off like a really ambitious first effort from a film school student studying screenwriting. They get the mechanics right, but they don’t have a real story to tell.
Film is art. Art is flawed. Art raises questions, demands the attention of the audience. These films are so focused on their own perfect plot points, they forget to give the audience anything to think about. Critics love them, but as a fan, I’m left wishing we’d gotten a full on Cloverfield sequel instead. Shaky cam and all.