This film was originally called "the cellar" the premise being what we see for the first 90% of "10 cloverfield lane": an excellent, brilliantly-scripted thriller set in an underground bunker, the tension lying in the "goodie-or-baddie" mystery that is the owner of the bunker, Howard. He is telling our hero, Michelle, that she cannot leave because the air outside is not breathable due to an attack, probably nuclear. She wants to leave because she suspects that Howard is insane.
That premise right there is perfect. Is Howard telling the truth? Is he a deranged kidnapper? Will Michelle eventually decide to leave? Is the air really breathable outside? The magnitude of that intrigue would have made for a brilliant film.
This is when JJ Abrams and bad robot came in and basically did what they do with the end of every single project they ever take on. Ruin it. Ruin it absolutely horrifically. They have clearly seen monetary value in the name "cloverfield" and are insisting on making it a franchise. Do we expect monsters going into this film? Yes. Do we get them? Yes. Was it necessary? Absolutely one million percent no.
10 minutes from the end of what had been a gripping film, we finally see Michelle leave, and escape the bunker. She realises that the air is still breathable. Now, "pre-abrams" as I'll refer to it, this would've been an excellent ending. A bittersweet tale of abuse, of loneliness from Howard's point of view, of revenge, of victory. But with a huge psychological trauma to go home with. Honestly this film would be perfect had it ended here. But it wasn't to be.
This is when the aliens come. We seem to in the blink of an eye turn from "the cellar", a brilliantly told thriller, into an Abrams, overly-Hollywood, big budget cringefest. For me, it wasn't the moment the spaceship came on the screen, it was the moment our timid hero, portrayed brilliantly up until now, who'd just been crying uncontrollably with relief at the air still being breathable, suddenly turns stern action hero. She looks up and says "you have GOT to be kidding me", in the same emphatic way we've seen in 600 "five out of ten" films down the years.
I'm sorry, but you've just seen alien life. And that's your reaction? In what until now was a very realistic, well told suspense thriller? Not having it for a second. It was like we could see the moment Abrams took over. And it ruined what could have been a classic.
The remaining 9 minutes are nothing more than a glorified creature feature, culminating in our hero, who's suddenly lost all her emotions, driving off to help the "human resistance" fight against the aliens.
End of movie. What amazes me most is the number of critic reviews I've seen saying "the aliens are a metaphor for what is outside a person's lonely bubble of abuse" or some nonsense along those lines. Sorry guys but you're thinking WAY too much into it. This is a story of a money-grabbing company, who bought a perfectly good script, and ruined the ending with aliens.
I'm not entirely sure what I expected in all honesty. It's Abrams. I saw the ending to LOST and vowed never to make the mistake of investing my time in any of his projects again. Sure enough, I made the aforementioned mistake again and it's almost as bad as LOST was (minus the 5 years of my life id invested for the lovey-dovey, semi-religious, out-of- ideas cop out snoozefest that was the ending to LOST).
Abrams strikes me as one of those who inexplicably takes pride in disappointing his audiences, as if he feels he's somehow above them and that the negative reviews are just people who don't "get" him. I think in all honesty it's more a sign that he's just not very good at what he does.
My advice? Turn off when you see Michelle remove her oxygen mask. Pretend that's the end and you have your film of the year. Watch on for yet another example of "how to ruin a perfectly decent project: by JJ Abrams"
5/10. 10 for the first hour and a half, minus 5 for the last 10 minutes.