With all the attention J.J. Abrams has gotten recently for his role as the writer and director behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it’s a wonder the Internet has time to talk about anything else (at least anything that isn’t of the comic book or Oscars variety). All that went out the window though, following the release of the first official trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane, the Cloverfield sequel we never knew was coming. The avalanche continued from there, with a tentative March 11, 2016 release date now looming large on the horizon.
How did J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company manage to sneak this one by us? More importantly, how did Abrams find any time for this project in between his busy schedule with Star Wars and his upcoming Hulu series, 11.22.63, and yet here we are. The answers: The project was disguised under the title of “Valencia,” and Abrams isn’t the director. The man at the helm instead is newcomer Dan Trachtenberg, adding to the air of mystery surrounding the recently top secret project.
It’s certainly not beyond Abrams to keep an entire blockbuster under wraps, having done the same for the original Cloverfield back in 2008. What’s amazing is that there wasn’t even a slight hint of a rumor leading into the recently-released trailer, a spectacular feat when you consider the dominant Internet culture of rumor-mining and spoilers. What we did know was that there had always been a vague sort of “maybe someday” plan for a sequel, but given the fact that Abrams is one of the busiest men in Hollywood, no one envisioned 2016 being the year it came to fruition. Abrams himself played coy when asked about it in an interview with The Verge, citing the secrecy as a need to “break the template.”
Based on all this, there’s a fair amount we can guess at for the story of 10 Cloverfield Lane. Abrams described the project as “a blood relative of Cloverfield” in a statement published by The Guardian, and the trailer makes it abundantly clear that it won’t be of the found footage variety this time around. More details can be found in the IMDB synopsis: “Waking up from a car accident, a young woman finds herself in the basement of a man who says he’s saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable.”
From here, we can assume that the monster/alien invasion we saw in Cloverfield has proliferated across the globe, that the young woman (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is likely unaware of any of this, and that the man who saved her (John Goodman) may not be as trustworthy as he seems. It’s your classic “are we the real monsters?” quandary, making for an interesting dynamic in a film that takes place entirely inside a bunker.
The biggest victory of all though is the choice to forego the found footage format of the original. Back when Cloverfield released in ’08, it had only been a year since the first Paranormal Activity began saturating the genre, and since then, it’s a filmmaking method that’s largely been played out and overused. Opting for a more straightforward (and steady-camera) approach shows an adept attention to the trends of modern filmmaking.
We won’t have to wait long until 10 Cloverfield Lane releases, giving us yet another movie to get excited about in 2016. Add it to a list that includes Rogue One, Batman v Superman, Civil War, Deadpool, and Suicide Squad and we have a year of cinema that could be one of the best we’ve ever seen. And coming off of a 2015 that saw the resurrection of the Star Wars franchise, that’s no small praise either. For now it’s time to buckle in for a sequel we never knew existed in the first place. Bravo, J.J. Bravo.
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