Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 cloverfield laneI loved Cloverfield. As an avid monster movie fan and gamer—I liken the feel of Cloverfield to a mix of Call of Duty and Resident Evil—this is not the type of sequel I anticipated. When the marketing for 10 Cloverfield Lane came out, I was baffled that what looked like a psychological thriller bore the Cloverfield title and was the supposed next entry in a giant alien monster movie franchise. All these things left my expectations low but hopeful.

The beginning starts cautiously, establishing the mood with a strong and foreboding score at the forefront. You are given details and character hints without any dialogue. Then, once you’ve been established in the world and you settle in for what you expect to be a slow build to the first tension of a slow psychological thriller, everything explodes on screen in full audio and visual. I think this opening epitomizes the shock that I felt throughout the entire film. This movie is an odd but pleasant surprise throughout, and definitely nothing I was expecting.

The thing that stands out first is the score and the sound mixing. The mechanical noise of the door opening and shutting, the clatter of objects, the jostling of a car shaking and rolling; all the sound in the film feels like it’s turned up to 11 and it presents a visceral world that keeps you braced for something terrible yet to come. At some points I thought the sound and the score might’ve tried a little too hard to push the drama of a scene, but they played a big part in shaping it as well. Ultimately, as the film rises to its peaks the sound really stands out in delivering the drama of each scene. Continue reading

Review: Melancholia (2011)

via IMDb.com

I saw Melancholia twice in theaters. The first time I saw the movie was at an artsy theater in Indianapolis. The audience was quiet, focused, and alert, absorbing all of the subtle and profound emotions portrayed by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The second time was at a theater in a college town. The audience was loud, talkative, and arrogant. And they were definitely more intoxicated than the Indianapolis audience, which is weird because the artsy theater offered alcohol (and the university had a supposedly dry campus). Though, to be fair, I don’t blame the college students. If I was sporting a 1.5 GPA because of a moderate Call of Duty addiction and was going to see a movie about the slow demise of our planet, I’d probably drink too.

What intrigued me, however, was how the different audiences impacted my perception of the movie.

via IMDb.com

Before diving into that ocean of gaudy introspective self-praise, though, I need to explain a little about Melancholia. Lars von Trier‘s 2011 film is a beautiful juxtaposition of the emotional and mental struggles of two sisters and a newly discovered planet that likes to invade Earth’s personal space. Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, a personification of depression and doom. For the first half of the film, the audience watches Justine destroy her wedding bit by excruciating bit. The second half of the film follows Claire, Justine’s sister, as she tries to juggle Justine’s emotional state, a creepily quiet child, Jack Bauer, and a new planet that may end all life.

So when the booze-filled audience burped their laughs, I was surprised. Depression and interplanetary tango is not exactly comedic gold. But, in some ways, it worked. Melancholia offers a dark look at life on the edge (in more than one way), and sometimes mild laughter is a good way to deal with impending doom. Also, if good movies aren’t your preference and you get bored while watching this wonderful film, it’s sort of fun to imagine Spider-Man swooping in to save Kirsten. Or Kiefer Sutherland yelling at someone.

“Life is only on Earth. And not for long,” says Justine with tired eyes.

“Like Hell it is!” growls Jack Bauer, cocking his gun and running toward the sunset.

Lars von Trier: Director

Lars von Trier: Writer

Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Kiefer Sutherland: Stars

Review: Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus via IMDB.com

Brilliant. Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, starring Deborah Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas, is a thrilling trip to the edge of belief and back. When computer generated titans resembling the prehistoric megalodon and the octopus from Game & Watch’s repertoire attack a plane, a submarine, and a bridge (not sure why the bridge), a few scientists rush to humanity’s rescue. Their solution: Trick the two monsters into fighting each other by promising them love and passion. (Actually, that was Plan B. Plan A was a flop.)

Eventually, the shark and the octopus do fight. Either the scientists did something good, or the two giant sea creatures (who escaped from ice in the movie’s opening scenes) were just a little restless. Either way, something went terribly right, and the movie ends happily, especially for some of the scientists who managed to hook up sometime between the appearance of an oddly aggressive octopus and the somewhat anti-climactic demise of the two majestic creatures.

All in all, bravo Jack Perez (director). You’ve managed, in one movie, to revive my fear of the ocean and dismiss my apprehensions toward scientists who drink alcohol from bottles wrapped in small paper bags.