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June 2, 2023

A Binge too Far #32: The Cloverfield trilogy (2008 – 2018)


Stunning promotional art from Cloverfield (2008)

I somehow missed the opportunity to watch the three Cloverfield films (2008 – 2018) when they were first released, but I just corrected this wrong and I present you my brief thoughts right here.


Cloverfield (2008) poster



Set in New York, this is about Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) who is about to leave for Japan, and his brother Jason (Mike Vogel) throws a farewell party for him (the guests are a mixture of city professionals and hipsters), all of it recorded on a camcorder by their common friend and all around nerd Hud (T. J. Miller). It all seems to be going normally well, other than the break-up the protagonist has with his kind-of girlfriend Beth (Odette Annable) whom he’ll leave behind. That is until massive explosions rock New York, but this time around it is not religious extremists but rather several monsters, with at least one of them being of Godzilla proportions.


Amidst the panic resulted by the aforementioned threat the players mentioned above try to survive, along with a couple of friends (including the gorgeous LizzyCaplan), as they encounter the army and their bombs (trying to save the day). The protagonist is desperate to reunite with his estranged (and physically hurt by a building collapse) girlfriend, while Hud keeps recording their entire journey.


On the wake of the third wave of ‘found footage’ horror [the first being initiated by the Cannibal Holocaust (1980) ignition, the second byThe Blair Witch Project (1999) phenomenon, and the third by the Paranormal Activity (2007) brilliance] – a genre known for attempting to cover the usual no-budget resources with supposedly amateur camera recordings – comes this very original take that combines the usual shaky camera approach with big-budget special effects extravaganza, which makes sense considering it was produced by J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk on a $25 million budget, no less. This is a very original idea, but essentially a wasted opportunity, serving only as an anomaly, albeit one that will be remembered forever for grossing a massive $172.4 and generating a very successful franchise.


Remember, this was made in 2008 when your average Joe still didn’t know how to use a camcorder (not to mention that he/she didn’t have Instagram, a reason enough to develop photography skills) and this is depicted in the directorial approach of Matt Reeves for the sake of authenticity, but it can be vomit-inducing when seen today, more than a decade later. The film is also anxiety-inducing and very stressful throughout, as it will have you constantly biting your nails. Full of explosions, CGI, helicopters, and whatnot, it also benefits from some very engaging characters, not to mention that it also managed to cram a love story in it as well.


10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) poster

10 Cloverfield Lane


Making a Psycho (1960)-like escape from her fiancé, Michelle (the ultra-gorgeous Mary Elizabeth Winstead), she soon has a car crash and ends up chained in the bunker under the farm of paranoid middle aged man Howard (John Goodman), where he also keeps Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), supposedly because the air outside is contaminated either due to a Russian nuclear attack or one from Mars. As the two youngsters try to escape, they will soon realize that there is indeed a terror of massive proportions waiting in the outside world.


Originally developed as a claustrophobic horror that would be called The Cellar, this was then transformed to a sequel of Cloverfield (2008), one in which at the hands of debuting director Dan Trachtenberg ditched the ‘found footage’ format and wisely went with a conventional approach, albeit one that still remained tense and captivating throughout. Produced by J.J. Abrams on a modest $15 million budget, it went on to gross a hefty $110.2, making it apparent that we would see more of the same.


The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

The Cloverfield Paradox


On the wake of the destructive energy crisis an international team of scientists travel deep in space in order to save the world when they encounter alternative realities and much more hideous happenings.


Originally developed as a full-blown sci-fi epic that would be called God Particle, this was then transformed to a Cloverfieldsequel, one in which at the hands of director Julius Onah(his second feature) it became an Alien (1979) homage of sorts. By remaining nightmarish and grotesque throughout this is a very captivating experience, although less captivating than the previous two films in the franchise. Produced by J.J. Abrams on a $45 million budget, it premiered on Netflix.




At some point Paramount Studios were developing A Quiet Place (2018) as a potential fourth film in the Cloverfield series, but thankfully the plan was ditched and it was released as a stand-alone feature in its own right. However, J.J. Abrams is now known to have been working on another sequel for the franchise, so there will be definitely be more on our way.

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