Cloverfield “franchise” destroys a great original theme

Cloverfield “franchise” destroys a great original theme

Cloverfield “franchise” destroys a great original theme

Some one should explain to J.J. Abrams that it isn’t enough to just put a word in a movie title to create a franchise that will excite the public. I loved the 2008 movie “Cloverfield.” But the two films int he so-called “Cloverfield franchise” don’t even come close to being anything like the first movie.

ByRay Hanania

Just because the name J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot are associated with a new movie like Cloverfield doesn’t mean it’s going to be good.

This applies to the so-called “Cloverfield franchise” which honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can string together the three “Cloverfield” movies and assert they are linked. They are not.

Cloverfield” was a dramatic horror and Science Fiction film released in 2008 using the technique where a film actor appears to be self-filming the surrounding events. It was kind of like “reality movie” ripping off “reality TV.”

The movie was great and I re-watch it often. Basically, a huge monster pops up in New York City and starts reeking havoc, destroying buildings and eating people. And it “mothers” a brud of mini-monsters that look like teeth with feet and arms that go around biting and eating everything they can as Mommie storms through the city destroying everything. Worse, is that when one of these little mini-me monsters bites you, you get a fast acting infection that makes you explode.

Cloverfield movie poster. Courtesy of WIkipedia

Cloverfield movie poster. Courtesy of WIkipedia

It ends with a video tape-recording left in a park, Cloverfield, where the guy who was last eaten by the monster left it in his blood and guts. It’s found by the U.S. Military during the aftermath.

The fate of the monster is left unanswered so there was clearly a feeling that it would come back even worse.

The movie had a $25 million budget and produced $175 million in revenue. Not bad. But it doesn’t have any big actors. All new and young, they include Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel and Odette Yustman. The dialogue is good but not great. But the monster action outweighs anything the script lacks.

Then, in 2016, J.J. Abrams released “10 Cloverfield Lane” which for some reason, just because the name includes the word “Cloverfield,” it is somehow supposed to be tied to the first film. It’s not. A woman gets in an accident and suddenly wakes up in a bomb shelter with a crazy man, played by well known actor John Goodman.

Supposedly there is a “spiritual” connection to the first Cloverfield film. I don’t care what J.J. Abrams claims, it’s just not there. It’s so boring. Is she really in a bomb shelter int he wake of the original Cloverfield drama, or is she in the hands of a psychopath who picked her up in the accident? Who knows and who cares?

Abrams throws in a cheap shot of an alien spaceship in the distance as the woman escapes. Yet, during the captivity, there isn’t any dialogue about what happened in New York, monsters or anything. Just the fear that something is out there and the captured woman has to stay inside the bomb shelter with Goodman.

Whacko!

Now comes the Netflix “exclusive” promoted in a $5 million 30 second ad during the Super Bowl. It’s supposedly the 3rd in the “Cloverfield Franchise.” It’s called “The Cloverfield Paradox.” It definitely is a paradox, for sure. The 2018 film is only viewable on Netflix. OK. They have had some good options. I am still weighing whether or not the $11 I am paying each month for the “standard Plan” is worth keeping.

The jury is still out. There have been a few good original films and shows to watch, especially the Pablo Escobar series and the sequel “After Pablo Escobar,” a 40 part Series in Spanish with English subtitles that I am still plowing through. It’s interesting, true and has some sex in it.

English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala

English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, all that connects the J.J. Abrams films are the name “Cloverfield.” If Abrams loved the word so much why didn’t he just name his company “Cloverfield” instead of “Bad Robot,” which I like, by the way.

This 3rd film, The Cloverfield Paradox, isn’t too bad, but it’s just not that great either. Science Fiction and horror mixed in together with astronauts who are working on an experimental particle accelerator that supposedly will help mankind deal with its energy shortage. But it creates a two-dimension split — kind of like the Starz Cable TV series “Counterpart” which is phenomenal and I will review shortly — and the characters get mixed up and find themselves battling to save”their worlds.”

Not once through the film do you see a monster. Even a peep of the original monster that knocked the head off of the Statue of Liberty in the first film, sending it rolling down a street to land in front of the actors’ apartment building front door.

That was cool, considering it was only seven years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack that took down the World Trade Centers Twin Towers. It took real courage to get past that psychological hurdle.

The plot is predictable with the usual cheap “right turn” twists and turns — whatI mean is they are obvious. The acting isn’t bad. I recognize some of the actors including Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, and Zhang Ziyi.

It isn’t until you have been completely scammed into exclusive Netflix, Super Bowl movie apprehension that you realize you have been scammed. The film ends with a cheap shot appearance of the original Cloverfield monster rising int he horizon.

Hey, it was good to see you, gi-normous Mommie monster. We miss you. No I mean it. We really miss you. But apparently J.J. Abrams is thinking someplace else instead of giving the world what it really wants.

The next”Clovefield” film had better have the monster return with its jaw-snapping, giant incisor teeth spreading instant death or you can forget it, Netflix! Yes, I blame you Netflix for raising prices without giving me anything really good, and promising a stupid movie sequel that isn’t bad but doesn’t even come close to the Super Bowl ad expectations you created.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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