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10 Cloverfield Lane

Brothers Grimsby

March 17, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (** ½) PG 13

Regarding 10 Cloverfield Lane, the good news is that producer J.J. Abrams’ semi-sequel to the 2008 sci fi opus Cloverfield is at least three fourths of a good film. Up until the final ten minutes, it manages to keep suspense at a fever pitch and viewer interest at a maximum, thanks to some great performances and a genuine sense of mystery. And then­—and you know it’s coming—the filmmaker’s attempt to meld the film’s first 90 minutes with a finale that’s designed to tie in with the initial Cloverfield installment and that’s where things fall completely apart. The finale feels as if it came from an entirely different movie altogether and serves mostly to negate all the good will that the film has engendered during its admittedly intriguing beginning and mid section. What’s left is a moderately interesting exercise in the suspense film genre with nothing much to recommend it outside of the good performances found therein.

The film begins by introducing us to the character of Michelle (NC native Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who’s in the midst of leaving her boyfriend (a surprise voice over cameo that I won’t reveal here).

Goodman, Winstead & Gallagher in 10 Cloverfield Lane

Michelle is driving along after making her exit from her failing relationship and arguing with her soon to be ex over the phone, when a vehicle suddenly plunges into her car and sends her into a tailspin. Next thing you know, Michelle is being held captive in a fallout shelter of some sort. Her captor, Howard (John Goodman), warns her that to try to escape would cause imminent death due to the fallout above ground from a device of some sort that’s been detonated. Michelle soon discovers she’s not the only one being held captive after discovering that Howard’s former neighbor, Emmet (John Gallagher, Jr.) is also living in the underground bunker.

Michelle has her suspicions that Howard isn’t on the up and up but Howard, along with Emmet, eventually allays her fears and, for a while, the trio live a blissful existence. That is until Michelle begins snooping about and discovers that perhaps things aren’t what they seem.

Director Dan Trachtenberg and his team of writers make the fatal mistake of attempting to cram too many genres into one film and basically the whole house of cards comes crashing down from all of the excess weight. What do you expect in a picture that wants to be a monster film, a sci fi film, a suspense film and a girl-held-hostage-by-a-crazy-man horror film? Still, with all of the story flaws, it would be hard to overlook the interesting performances from all of the cast who clearly are giving it their all. If there’s any reason to invest your time in 10 Cloverfield Lane, that would be it.
    
The Brothers Grimsby (**) R 

Sacha Baron Cohen was, for at least the better part of a decade, one of the great satirists of modern times. Disguising himself as varied characters in his comedic projects, Cohen brilliantly skewered all facets of our contemporary culture in his own unique way and the results were quite extraordinary.

And then, at the dawning of the current decade, something happened. The actor-writer decided to take a new approach to filmmaking by pre-scripting his cinematic vehicles as opposed to the Candid Camera style approach used in his earlier films, Borat and Bruno. His first attempt at this in 2012, The Dictator, fell flatter than a cake being baked at high altitudes.

Every artist is certainly entitled to a misfire every now and again, but watching Cohen fall so far from the lofty perch, on which he had been sitting for so long, put me on guard. I was more than a little cautious when I heard about his latest project, The Brothers Grimsby, and it now seems I had good reason to fear. The film, though not quite as dreadful as The Dictator, still seems to be a half-baked affair. It feels more like Cohen was simply going through the motions in order to pop off what amounts to maybe three or four laugh out loud moments, at best. The rest is simply filler, unfortunately.

There is a thin plot on which Cohen and his cohorts attempt to hang their gags, but even it seems old hat. The story is basically the tale of Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), the not too bright father of nine, who has a fondness for plus sized women and soccer. Nobby and his brother, Sebastian (Mark Strong), were separated as kids and are now reunited after nearly three decades. Trouble is that Sebastian is a spy of the James Bond variety who certainly doesn’t need or want Nobby mucking things up. Nobby, of course, puts himself in the thick of things, and this is where the majority of the film’s varied gags come into play, including such shenanigans as hiding inside of an elephant.

One of the best performances in the film comes from Rebel Wilson, who, keeping in line with Cohen’s political incorrectness, exudes quite a sense of playful humor in regards to her physical appearance. When someone asks her when the baby’s due, she responds by stating “I’m not pregnant, just fat.’

There’s also an amusing gag involving Donald Trump during the film’s final few minutes that would have been have been a home run had it not been recycled from the first fifteen minutes of the film. Originality is not The Brothers Grimsby’s strong suit, as one can obviously tell.

Both of these movies are playing at the Carmike in Hickory and surrounding town.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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