Nominations for this Year’s McKoovies Announced!

I love the Oscars. They are a great opportunity to celebrate the art of filmmaking and the magic of movies. I also love them because they make me aware of good films that I may have otherwise missed. However, one common complaint that many people have is that they rarely nominate “mainstream movies.” (Or, as some say, “why can’t they nominate movies that I’ve actually seen?”) While I’m happy with the Oscars staying the way that they are, I thought I’d take the chance this year to recognize some films that had a more widespread audience. Thus, I present: The McKoovies™.

The criteria for selection are pretty simple: in order to be nominated, a movie had to be one of the top 25 highest grossing films (domestically) in 2017. (For the curious, the complete list can be found here.) Of course, a disclaimer should be given that I have not seen all 25 of the highest grossing films last year, so it’s possible that I’ve left off a movie that deserved a nomination, but what’s a nominee list without some snubs? (Be sure to let me know your thoughts on which films deserved nominations, but didn’t get any.)

The five categories (and their explanations) are as follows:

  • Best Picture – Pretty self explanatory, this will be my favorite film of the year (from among the eligible nominees).
  • Best Acting in a Lead Role – Also pretty self-explanatory, this will be for whoever gave what I see as the best acting performance for a lead character.
  • Best Acting in a Supporting Role – Ditto but for a supporting character.
  • Best Visuals – This category encompasses almost every visual aspect of a film: cinematography, visual effects, costumes/makeup, production design, etc. In other words, if you were to mute the movie and ignore the acting and story, which film simply looks the most impressive?
  • Best Score – A film can get nominated for this in one of two ways: one, it can employ the score in such a way that significantly adds to the storytelling and overall feel of the film, and/or two, it can simply be a score that is amazing to listen to even when isolated from the film that it comes from. For example, had this year’s Power Rangers been eligible for nomination, its score would have likely gotten a score nomination (and possibly even a win) because even though the movie itself was pretty mediocre, its score is a blast to listen to (and might actually be the 2017 score I’ve listened to more than all others).

And the nominees are….

Best Score:

  • Coco
  • Dunkirk
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wonder Woman

Best Visuals:

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Thor: Ragnarok

Best Acting in a Supporting Role:

  • Cate Blanchett as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok
  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Dafne Keen as Laura in Logan
  • James McAvoy as the various personalities of Kevin Wendell Crumb in Split
  • Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in Logan

Best Acting in a Lead Role:

  • Gal Godot as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman
  • Tom Holland as Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • Hugh Jackman as Logan in Logan
  • Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington in Get Out
  • Andy Serkis as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes

Best Picture:

  • Coco
  • Logan
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wonder Woman

Well, there you have ‘em. Be sure to let me know what you think of this list, and who you think should win! The winners will be announced some time in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Nominees

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The McKoo Review Strikes Back

First off, thank you to everyone who continues to support and encourage my writing of movie reviews. I initially created this blog a couple years back with some pretty ambitious goals of posting updates on a frequent and fixed schedule. However, it didn’t take too long before the structure that I created for myself started to seem less like a fun way to talk about movies, and more like a burden that I had needlessly committed myself to. So I stopped maintaining this blog. I still wrote reviews from time to time on my personal Facebook page, but they pretty much just took the form of long Facebook posts. Many of you continued to support and interact with those, but from time to time, I’d get a comment that would say something like: “I finally saw [insert movie], and I wanted to go back a read your review, but I had to scroll through a month’s worth of posts just to find it. I wish there was a place where it would be easier for me to find specific reviews of yours.” Well, I have finally taken such feedback to heart, and I’m happy to say that I’m relaunching The McKoo Review.

This time around, rather than forcing myself to stick to a schedule with regular columns about specific topics, I’m going to use this simply as a platform to talk about movies when I have something to say. There may be times when I post multiple updates in a week, and there may be times when I don’t post any updates for several weeks. To make it easier to know when I post something (because who religiously checks up on blogs nowadays?), I’ve created a Facebook page specifically for my McKoo Review posts (found here), similar to the page that I run (now somewhat halfheartedly) for memes (shameless plug). I’ll still post some of my reviews on my regular/personal Facebook page (especially for the mainstream, blockbuster movies), but if you’re also interested in my commentary on the world of filmmaking in general, or my discussions of the more “artsy” or “prestige” type films (read: Oscar bait), be sure to follow the specific McKoo Review page on Facebook, as I won’t be posting everything to my personal page.

In the meantime, here’s something coming to the McKoo Review in the near future that you can watch out for – an announcement for my own personal categories and nominees for my own “best of” awards for the films of 2017! Look for the announcement of the categories, nominees, and winners as we get closer to Oscar time. I’m still trying to think of a name for my awards (I’m leaning toward “The McKoovies”), but I’m open to suggestions. Also, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll write a review for Black Panther in a couple weeks, so be sure to look out for that.

Until next time.

Jungle Book Review – SPOILER FREE (except where noted)

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tl;dr – Not only does this live-action remake far transcend the original, it’s also Disney’s best live-action remake of one of its animated films to date. Even if you didn’t like or have never seen the original cartoon, you can (and probably will) enjoy this movie. If you are a fan of the original, prepare to have your socks blown off, as this is arguably one of the greatest remakes ever made.

I should probably start by saying that while I grew up watching the original cartoon, it was never among my favorite Disney movies. It’s certainly enjoyable, but I wouldn’t consider it one of “The Greats.” However, in my opinion, this live-action version is Disney’s best “remake an animated movie into live-action” movie thus far.

Perhaps the most important discussion point: this movie is a technological marvel. If you didn’t know: this was filmed entirely in downtown LA on a studio set. With the exception of Mowgli, almost everything you see on the screen is CG. AND IT ALWAYS LOOKS COMPLETELY REAL. Unlike 2009’s Avatar (which I absolutely love, y’all haters can go ahead and start hating) which took us to an alien world that almost always looked “real” with completely fictional flora and fauna, this film transports up to the jungles of India, with realistic animals (albeit talking ones), and it ALL. LOOKS. AMAZING. This is one of the most visually stunning movies that I have ever seen. Last year the director said that this is the most technologically advanced film ever made, and after seeing it, I believe him. If you want to get the full experience of this movie, I *HIGHLY* recommend seeing it in 3D. Another brief comment about the visuals: I don’t know how they did it, but they actually somehow managed to make King Louie look like Christopher Walken and Baloo look like Bill Murray. I mean, they still looked like a real Orangutan and Bear and not some freakish hybrid, but I could see facial expressions from both of the two actors that I’ve seen them express in other movies when they are human. I feel this added an extra layer to their performance, and made the characters more expressive.

Speaking of actors, Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli, deserves some kind of award. Not only did he make Mowgli an enjoyable and relatable character, he did it without virtually ANY of the visuals that you’ll see in the movie. Sure, he had some props and knew where to look and where to move, but none of the animals he interacts with are real. All of them were either puppets that got completely replaced with CGI, or were never there in any form to begin with. Unlike the original cartoon, where I felt like Mowgli was just the character that had things happen to him, Sethi’s portrayal of Mowgli is the irreplaceable center of this film and the instigator of most of the story, as opposed to the person that the story happens to. I especially liked how he was portrayed as a skilled problem solver, which emphasized one of his unique human characteristics.

Unlike Zootopia, which I felt repeatedly bashed the audience over the head with its (admittedly timely and relevant) message that accepting others for their differences is important, I felt that the message of this film was much more subtle, but just as present, which resulted in a significantly less preachy film. This movie recognizes that diversity is important and teaches that rather than trying to be something that you are not, you should just be you. This is shown especially when Mowgli realizes that he needs to stop trying to be a wolf, and accept that he is a man, and should embrace that part of himself (and quite literally is able to save the day when he does so). This movie is very much a coming-of-age tale, as Mowgli comes to learn exactly what it means to be human. However, the film also shows that though everyone may be different (in this case, numerous diverse species), it is only by overcoming our differences and working together that we can overcome the obstacles that threaten us. While this could have easily been expressed in a cheesy or preachy way, I felt that it was a completely natural part of the story, and at no time did I feel like the movie was delivering a sermon (which is something that Zootopia seemed to do multiple times).

The following section may contain some minor spoilers, but I’m just discussing two scenes from the cartoon that made it into this remake. If you don’t want to know anything about what was or wasn’t included from the cartoon, then you can skip to the next paragraph, but if you don’t care about knowing that some of the scenes from the cartoon are in this film, then read on: I feel I need to talk about the two musical numbers in this film. “Bare Necessities” felt like a completely natural part of the movie. It didn’t feel forced because it felt less like a scene from a musical, and more like two buddies just singing for fun (it felt kind of like the Misty Mountains song from the first Hobbit). I totally believed that those two characters would have sung that song at that time. Now, as much as I really really wanted to hear Christopher Walken sing “I Wanna Be Like You” when I went into this film, when the song finally happened, I felt like it didn’t really fit into the narrative. In isolation, I enjoyed the song, but within the context of this movie, it really felt shoehorned in. When someone who has zero familiarity with the animated film sees this scene, they’re probably going to be wondering why the heck King Louie is singing, and they’re right to wonder.

All-in-all, I feel like this is one of Disney’s best movies from recent years. I’d say it’s on the level with Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph (both of which I love), and it’s significantly better than some of Disney’s previous hits like Zootopia, Frozen, and Maleficent. If you are a fan of the family movie genre, then this movie is definitely worth watching. And if you are a fan of visually compelling cinematic experiences, I would say that you have to see this film and see it in 3D. I definitely plan on seeing this movie again, and I will probably buy it on Blu-ray when it comes out.

New SPIDER-MAN photos from CIVIL WAR are here, and they’re AMAZING

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Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War Spider-Man/Peter Parker (Tom Holland) Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2016

Marvel dropped a new set of photos of Spider-Man from the upcoming Captain America: Civil War today, and they are simply perfect. The full set of photos can be found here. My personal favorite is the somewhat stationary image of Spidey on the side of the building, simply because the pose that he takes looks as though is was ripped directly from a comic illustrated by Steve Ditko. Also, the Spider logo on the back in the fifth picture is much more similar to the comics than than I’ve ever seen (utilizing the very round red spider with stocky legs, rather than the more lifelike looking spider of the previous two iterations). This might be the most visually faithful adaptation of Spider-Man yet. (Is that a hint of web-pits I see in the third picture?) Lastly, while that last picture is mostly shrouded is shadow (pretty much only the eyes are prominent), the eyes almost seem more gold than white. Could this be a tease of the Iron Spider costume that fans have been hoping will pop up? Let me know what you think of these images in the comments below!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review (NO SPOILERS)

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tl;dr – It’s watchable, and even entertaining in parts, but mostly it feels like two good but incompatible films mixed together: like putting orange juice in your favorite cereal – both would taste fine by themselves, but putting them together has produced an odd mixture that makes you wish you could have them separately.

So this movie was kind of all over the place, and my review is likely to be too. All righty, well, let’s get started: perhaps the oddest thing about this movie is that the tones of the movie clash with each other in the same way that the titular heroes do. This can’t decide whether it wants to be grounded in reality, or if it wants to be an over-the-top comic book movie. I would have been fine with either, as long as it had only been one. While the fan of the do-gooder, boy scout Superman inside of me is still disappointed that he is nowhere to be found, I also understand that they are trying to make a more grounded approach to Superman. “What if such a being actually existed?” these last two films (Man of Steel & BvS) ask. And I think they ask the question well. If you can overlook the fact that this is not the Superman you’re used to, I think that they accomplish a fairly interesting character study. Likewise, the elements exploring whether or not Superman should have a role in world affairs is thought-provoking. Batman, on the other hand, is larger-than-life and comic book-y. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, this iteration of Batman reminded me heavily of the 90s cartoon. Batman was pretty awesome. There was one scene that I won’t mention for its spoilery nature that really showed in one shot just how awesome this Batman is. That said, I didn’t believe for one second that this Batman could exist in the real world. Which would have been totally fine if it was just his movie, but it wasn’t. He was sharing the film with a hyper-realistic Superman. It would be like if Harry Potter suddenly showed up in a Star Trek movie. I’m totally willing to believe in a wizard with a wand and magical powers in a fantasy film, but put him in a movie that emphasizes science and logic and he’d feel totally out of place. And Batman wasn’t the only one. Lex (I’ll get to him later), Doomsday, and all of the “Dawn of Justice” portions felt over-the-top and comic bookish. The movie really needed to decide whether it was going for realism, or the fantastical style of most comic books, because it couldn’t have both.

Another thing that painfully clashed was the music. I think Hans Zimmer is one of the best living film composers and, say what you will about Man of Steel as a film, I thought Man of Steel was one of his finest film scores. While his co-composer partner, an artist who goes by the name of “Junkie XL,” isn’t quite on the same level of talent, I’ve listened to a few of his film scores and found them enjoyable. But their styles don’t mix together at all. Zimmer’s work with James Newton Howard on the first two films of the Dark Knight trilogy was so unified that it was difficult to tell where one composer’s work began and another ended. Yet, here, the difference between the two composers is painfully apparent. I actually found myself getting frustrated any time we would hear one of the musical themes from Man of Steel, as they felt out of place. It’s like listening to a album by “Fun” when suddenly a Beethoven concerto starts playing, and afterwards you go right back to “Fun.” It’s the same as before: pick a style of music. One could argue that the conflict between the music styles is meant to be symbolic of the conflict between the characters, but if that was their intention, they might as well have served caramel-ranch flavored popcorn with the film so that you could taste the conflict between the caramel and ranch flavors. Just because it’s symbolic doesn’t mean that it’s enjoyable or well done. An additional piece of music that I thought was odd was Lex’s musical theme, which felt just as zany as the character. It was actually fairly reminiscent of Jack Sparrow’s theme from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which isn’t a huge surprise since Zimmer scored most of those, but it also felt out of place with the rest of the movie. Most of Zimmer’s other music in the film reflected the emotional feel of the Man of Steel score, and Junkie XL’s music was loud and bombastic, but Lex’s theme was just too zany. Once again, you could argue that was to match the zaniness of his character (which I’ll still get to next), but it just highlighted how much his character felt out of place in the film.

Speaking of Lex, as noted above, even with the comic book-y nature of much of the movie, he still felt rather out of place. While he certainly took inspiration from Gene Hackman’s portrayal, he also brought a new flavor to his performance and the final product is this bizarrely quirky character. And not the fun kind of quirky either. More like the really weird kid that you always tried to avoid in high school. Pretty much whenever he was onscreen, I couldn’t wait for him to get offscreen.

Despite the title, I hope you’re not too excited to see Batman and Superman fight. Don’t get me wrong, the fight scene was really, really cool. It also lasted about five minutes. Ten tops. Also, the reason that they end up fighting made me chuckle. It’s not a particularly bad reason. In fact, if you’ve ever read a comic that’s 30+ years old, pretty much any fight between superheroes happens for this exact same reason. My first thought was “Man this story’s been done a hundred times.” But then I realized: never in a movie (to my knowledge). So while it might not have been a heartfelt battle of ideologies (like a certain other superhero vs superhero movie coming up), it was a good enough reason.

Some good things! It was effective in getting me excited for the Justice League movies! Even if they are very similar to this film (which is certainly possible, as they have the same writer and director as this), they’ll still be enjoyable. However, I’m assuming they’re not going to focus those movies on the “realistic Superman storyline,” so it’s possible they won’t have such a weird clash of tones, so they could be even better. Wonder Woman, who was only in the film briefly, seems cool, though her solo movie next year will make or break how people perceive her character. They also tease some of the other Justice League characters. Batman, as I mentioned earlier, was very different than Christian Bale’s version, but he was also pretty cool. Oh, and the visuals were amazing. This was a visually stunning film.

Disclaimer: I haven’t read the specific comic storylines that they used as inspiration for the film. I am, however, familiar with what happens in those stories, and I was able to recognize that there was a lot of fan service in this film. Many of the elements and plot points from the comic stories actually make it into the film. Which leads me to…

The ending of this movie is probably going to be controversial. And I’ll admit I was genuinely surprised by the status quo of the DC universe at the end of the film. A lot of people are probably going to love it, and a lot of people are probably going to hate it. I thought it was … fine. I recognize why they did what they did, but I think a different ending could have been better. Also, did anyone else notice that the final shot of this movie was almost identical to the final shot of another comic book movie from 10ish years ago?

So, all in all, this movie was entertaining, yet also disappointing because of its flaws. There were elements of at least two amazing movies here, but it never truly reaches greatness because it never decides exactly which movie it wants to be. Essentially, if you were planning to see this film, go for it. If you were planning to pass on it, you don’t need to regret your choice. If you’re still undecided then… flip a coin, I guess?

Please comment below with your thoughts of Batman v Superman, but be sure to use SPOILER warnings where appropriate. Also, if you enjoyed this review, please consider sharing it, bookmarking this website, and following me on Facebook (please use the “follow” option, do not send me a friend request), Twitter, or Instagram.

Daredevil Season 2 Review

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Note: this review is SAFE to read if you have not yet seen season two, any potential spoilers have been marked with a spoiler warning.

tl;dr – While I think season one of Daredevil may have been just ever-so-slightly better, Daredevil Season 2 was near perfect, with a surprisingly well-done Punisher that almost outshined Daredevil in his own show.

One batch, two batch, penny and dime. Holy freak, season two of Daredevil was awesome. Last year, I enjoyed season one more than any of the superhero movies that came out that year, and while I’m still super excited for Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Doctor Strange (and even Suicide Squad), they’re going to have to be really good to beat how much I loved Daredevil Season 2.

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Before I get into everything I loved, I do want to mention the few problems that I had with season two. Prior to the release of season two, I wasn’t exactly sure who the main villain of the season was going to be. After watching season two, I’m still not sure who the main villain was. Was it the Hand? Was it Punisher? Was it even in some ways Elektra? I don’t know. Not that it specifically needed a main villain, but this season definitely felt like it was lacking the high stakes that Fisk provided in season one. There was also kind of a weird plot-hole involving The Hand (the group of ninjas) that I never fully understood. (The following is a MINOR spoiler, but if you don’t want to read it, skip to the next paragraph). Long story short, Daredevil is finally able overcome the fact that the members of the Hand can mask their heartbeat by listening instead to their breaths. But aren’t breaths inherently louder than heartbeats? Stick me in a very quiet small room with five people, and I’ll probably be able to hear all of them breathing, but I highly doubt I’d be able to hear the hearts. Likewise, are the writers trying to imply that he never heard their breaths before Stick pointed it out? How does a guy with superhearing never notice the sound of breathing? Anyway, that didn’t really make any sense to me, but whatever.

To me, the relationship between season two and season one felt like the relationship between Age of Ultron and the first Avengers movie. It had a lot of fan-service and a lot of moments that felt as though they were ripped straight from the comic books and they made my inner nerd squeal with joy, however, I felt that the story was sacrificed in some instances in order to provide the fan service. (SUPER MASSIVE SPOILER AHEAD, skip to the next paragraph if you haven’t seen the season yet). I think the biggest instance of this was Elektra’s death. I knew that she would eventually die, as that is a very important storyline from the comics, but it felt a little rushed here. This to me felt more like they put it in here only to appease the comic fans, and not because it was necessary for the story. That said, it wasn’t terribly done, so I can forgive them, especially if they do interesting things with that plot point in season three.

Now, enough with complaining, let’s get into the good: PUNISHER. WAS. AWESOME. Let me explain to you the significance of my statement: I don’t like the Punisher. I never have. I don’t like what he stands for and I think he’s a psychopath. When they announced that he would be in season two, I was worried that I wouldn’t like the season, and with the rumors floating around that a Netflix Punisher show might be on the way, I thought that Marvel may have finally made a show that I didn’t plan to watch. Then Daredevil Season 2 happened. OH. MY. GOSH. Not only did they make a completely human, sympathizable, and grounded character, THEY MADE HIM FREAKING AWESOME. That scene in the jail. I won’t spoil it, but holy crap was that brutal in all the right ways. On a side note, I’ve not actually seen the film Watchmen, but having read the classic graphic novel and because this jail scene mirrored one from that comic, I actually half expected to hear Frank say in homage to the character Rorschach: “I’m not trapped in here with you, you’re trapped in here with me.” However, what he did say over and over throughout the season was “One batch, two batch, penny and dime” and that may have become my new favorite superhero catchphrase. Especially because of the emotion with which he delivered it, and the story behind why he says it. As I said, they took a character that I actively disliked and have suddenly made him make sense to me. I get it now. I get why he is a popular character. And I want a Netflix Punisher show RIGHT NOW. Not to mention the fact that I am seriously considering picking up the new Punisher comic series that is starting in May.

I suppose I should also talk about Daredevil, seeing how it’s his show. He was great. They’ve improved the look of his costume a bit. He still kicks butt as Daredevil. His personal life is still a mess. Pretty much if you loved his character in season one, you’ll still love him here. There is one super powerful character moment that I feel I need to discuss though. (This is another MINOR spoiler, but I recommend you read it, unless you want to know absolutely nothing about season two). At one point in time, a character (may be old, may be new, may be major, may be minor, I won’t spoil who it is) is gravely injured. While another character begins administering first aid, Matt takes the time to get on his knees and begins praying for their well-being. Maybe it’s just because I’m a religious person myself, but this very brief moment was extremely powerful for me. It’s made clear from both seasons that while Matt may not be a fully practicing Catholic, he is a believing Catholic. But up until now, we’ve pretty much only seen him go to a priest for advice (even his scenes in confession are just a search for advice) or mention his Catholic beliefs. This, for me, was the first time that we saw him actively practicing his beliefs, and in a world where religion is looked down upon by many and seen as something that only the uneducated or unenlightened practice, is was uplifting to see this character actually praying for the well-being of another. I’m pretty sure that this is the first time I’ve ever seen a superhero pray on screen, and I may or may not have teared up just a little bit upon seeing it.

(If you have not seen season ONE, the following paragraph contains a major spoiler). So, in case you forgot, Karen killed Wesley last season. Straight up shot him several times in the chest. And it’s obvious that this is still eating her up. Terribly. It’s obvious that she is seeking forgiveness for what she’s done while also seeking affirmation from others that what she’s done doesn’t make her a terrible person. This makes her relationships with both Matt and Frank (the Punisher) incredibly complex and interesting. She needs to know that she hasn’t lost her soul for killing Wesley, and Matt isn’t really doing much to make her feel forgiven. Frank, on the other hand, seems to be her opportunity for redemption. Because of this, any time she interacts with either of these characters, there is so much subtext going on that it’s potentially one of the most well-written and well-acted parts of this season. I could honestly probably write a detailed analysis paper of Karen’s character from this season alone, but I’ll leave it here and suffice it to say that if you weren’t paying attention to Karen’s unspoken quest for redemption this season, you may want to go back and rewatch it for that aspect alone.943855_10156767341540374_8796963422717545185_n

Foggy was also awesome. He’s proves in this season why he might even be the better lawyer from Nelson and Murdock. I would straight-up watch a courtroom drama with no superheroes with Foggy as the star.

Pretty much, if you liked season one, you have no reason not to watch season two. And if you haven’t watched either, you should seriously consider it. I cannot wait for season three to come out. In the meantime, I’ll probably watch this season at least two more times.

Please comment below with your thoughts of Season 2, but be sure to use SPOILER warnings where appropriate. Also, if you enjoyed this review, please consider sharing it, bookmarking this website, and following me on Facebook (please use the “follow” option, do not send me a friend request), Twitter, or Instagram.

Review for 10 Cloverfield Lane

 

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tl;dr – If you are a fan of psychological horror suspense thrillers like Signs and Psycho you absolutely must see this movie, even if you didn’t like or haven’t seen the original Cloverfield, as this has practically nothing to do with that movie and is a very different style. If you loved the original Cloverfield, you will most likely love this, as long as you are not expecting a movie that continues the story of the original in any way.  

First thing’s first: this was a great movie. It was NOT, however, a sequel to Cloverfield. This movie was similar to Cloverfield in many ways, just as Cloverfield was similar to the television show Lost in many ways (and likewise 10 Cloverfield Lane was also similar to Lost in many ways). What does that mean? Well, if you were expecting another piece to the puzzle of what happens in the Cloverfield story from the first movie, you aren’t going to get one (though there may be hope for that in the future). If you are expecting a J.J. Abrams-produced psychological mystery where you wonder exactly what the crap is actually happening both during and after the movie (one again, much like Lost and Cloverfield) then you are in for a supreme treat.

Let’s address another major elephant in the room: the original Cloverfield was a very polarizing film. There were a lot of people (myself included) who absolutely loved it, and there were a lot of people who despised it (I had one friend who, at the time of its release, said it was the worst movie she had ever seen). I’m almost certain that this film will NOT be nearly as polarizing, for two major reasons: it’s not filmed in the “found footage” style used in the first film (10 Cloverfield Lane is filmed just like any other movie with multiple camera angles, and even has a musical score, unlike the first film, which did not), and because it has much more closure than the first film. At the end of the original Cloverfield you knew almost nothing – did the characters survive? What happens next? What even is the monster and where did it come from? 10 Cloverfield Lane has two main storylines: what’s happening inside the bunker and what’s happening outside the bunker. The “inside” story serves the main plot of film while the “outside” story adds an extra layer of suspense and mystery. I’ll just say this without getting into any spoilers: the “inside” storyline gets pretty much resolved by the end of the movie with very few loose ends. The “outside” story is rather unresolved by the end, but it is still has MUCH more resolution than the ending of the original Cloverfield. In fact, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much resolution the “outside” story got.

So what exactly did I like about this film? So much. First, the acting is incredible. There is at least one critic who thinks John Goodman’s performance was Oscar worthy. While I will make no claims as to who does or does not deserve an Oscar-nomination, I do feel that any familiarity with John Goodman gets completely lost within his role. I won’t spoil what he is able to pull off with his acting, but I will say that I completely believed his performance. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also great as the lead, and she is completely unrecognizable from her role as Ramona in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which I believe is the only other film I’ve seen her in). Likewise, the story is incredible. I haven’t felt this much suspense while watching a movie in a long time. Like other films I’ve mentioned above (Psycho and Signs, two of my all-time favorites), this film keeps you guessing as to the true nature of the events right up until the end. And just like its spiritual successors Cloverfield and Lost, 10 Cloverfield Lane will leave you thirsty for more when the end credits roll.

My only minor complaint about the film is that Michael Giacchino did not do the music. That might sound weird, but producer J.J. Abrams frequently collaborates with Giacchino and he is, in my opinion, a musical genius. When we begin hearing score literally the instant the film begins, I was really hoping to get an awesome Giacchino score. When the music turned out to be unremarkable, I wasn’t surprised to see a name other than Giacchino’s in the credits. Nothing against Bear McCreary, but I just think Giacchino is a better composer and I wonder if the score would have been more moving if he had composed it.

As for the important question of “did I like this better than the original Cloverfield?” I’m not sure. While I think 10 Cloverfield Lane may technically be a more artistically crafted movie from a filmmaking point of view, I think I may have enjoyed Cloverfield more. In other words, this may technically be a better movie, but I think I had more fun watching the original one.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to warn others of any potential SPOILERS! Also, please share this if you enjoyed my review!