Tag Archives: 10 Cloverfield Lane

2016 in Review: A Soundtrack

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It’s been a while since we did a review of the year’s soundtracks, so we drafted in frequent collaborator Tony Black – and head honcho at the TV and film music podcast Between The Notes – who put down his microphone in favour of writing down his thoughts on the top soundtracks of 2016. Plenty to consider before you vote in this year’s Failed Critics Awards.

Let’s be honest, it’s not been a great year at the movies has it, 2016? Not if you’re a major blockbuster at least. Oddly enough though, the same can’t quite be said for the scores to many of those films, dodgy or otherwise. David Ayer, Zack Snyder or even Scott Derrickson may have let you down, but Michael Giacchino, Clint Mansell or Cliff Martinez have been right on the money with their orchestral scores to some of this year’s most disappointing or divisive pictures.

Here are five scores to the biggest (and not necessarily best) movies that have troubled your multiplex that I consider to be composers close to the top of their respective games:


5 – THE WITCH (Mark Korven)

Just like you probably hadn’t heard of The Witch before early this year, chances are you won’t have heard of Canadian composer Mark Korven. He’s a new kid on the block. Much like how Robert Eggers wowed us with his debut feature, Korven backs him up with a score that drips remote, screeching, primeval terror and the coldness of the austere Puritan setting in which Eggers tells his chilling tale. It’s not Sunday afternoon easy listening, but it’s one of the best horror/chiller scores in years.

Standout track: Caleb’s Seduction


4 – STAR TREK BEYOND (Michael Giacchino)

The new master and heir apparent to John Williams; it’s rare Michael Giacchino has a bad year. After a stonking 2015 scoring a raft of average movies with stunning music, he delivers this year both with Doctor Strange and even more so Star Trek Beyond. It’s his third score for the JJ Abrams spearheaded revival of the classic TV score and it’s possibly his best yet, a heady mixture of iconic, reworked themes with powerful, thrilling brass and an elegant sense of galactic scope. Plus you’ll always have a good laugh at the wonderful puns that litter the names of his cues, as if you needed more of a reason to listen!

Standout track: Night on the Yorktown


3 – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (Bear McCreary)

You’ve heard Bear McCreary, even if you don’t know his name. Trust me. He scored the excellent Battlestar Galactica remake and it’s his music that forms the memorable title track to The Walking Dead. He’s been much more television based (and continues to be) but in scoring the underrated, Hitchcockian sequel to secret blockbuster Cloverfield, he truly advances to the big leagues with a score one parts mythic, and two parts a gorgeous mesh of dark thriller & Jerry Goldsmith-esque creeping mystique. Even if you don’t love 10 Cloverfield Lane (and you should), it would be a surprise if you don’t end up a little in love with how it sounds by the end.

Standout track: Michelle


2 – THE NEON DEMON (Cliff Martinez)

Following previous partnerships with Nicolas Winding Refn on films such as Drive or Only God Forgives, Cliff Martinez perhaps reaches amongst the peak of his accomplishments with his remarkable and unique work on The Neon Demon. Now, not everyone took to Winding Refn’s garish horror about the fashion industry, but Martinez’s music drips with substance. It often sounds like diamonds falling onto a cold floor, infused with a sense of warped, pulsing disco, underlain with painful violins capturing the tragedy of Elle Fanning’s main character. It’s a stunning piece of work, and remarkable for the fact the standout piece, ‘The Demon Dance’, is a contributing from Julian Winding, the directors brother. If it’s not being played in clubs forevermore, it’ll be a travesty.

Standout track: The Demon Dance


1 – HIGH-RISE (Clint Mansell)

There’s a strong argument that Clint Mansell is the greatest composer on this list discussed today and, after listening to his score for High-Rise, it’s hard to provide a counterpoint. Ben Wheatley’s absurdist, neo-capitalist, period masterpiece and searing critique on Thatcherism may both be the greatest film of 2016 but also have a score to match. Mansell belies his roots as a Midlander growing up in the gaudy, concrete monstrosities of the 60’s & 70’s to deliver an operatic and creeping piece which matches Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s commentary. It’s full of brash violins, strong towering themes and an underpinning of controlled mayhem which Mansell explodes outward for effect at just the right moments. Of all these pieces, it’s the score that can be most listened to and enjoyed in isolation. Even in Mansell’s glittering career it’s a standout, possibly career best piece of work.

Standout track: The World Beyond the High Rise


In terms of honourable mentions, a shout out again to Giacchino for Doctor Strange, to Henry Jackman for The Birth of a Nation, the great John Williams for The BFG, Johann Johannson for Arrival, John Ottman for X-Men Apocalypse, Abel Korzeniowski for Nocturnal Animals and John Powell/David Buckley’s collaboration on Jason Bourne. There are more I’ve missed, undoubtedly, from even the honourable mentions, let alone the best of list.

So take a moment to remember than even in a hellish political year, or a largely average one for movies on the screen, the composers behind the music are still delivering work you’ll be listening to for years to come. 2016 does have one saving grace, after all…

Time to Quit Those Spoiler-Filled Trailers

Unironic warning: there are some minor spoilers in this article for the following films:  Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys, X-Men: Apocalypse.

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Time to Quit Those Spoiler-Filled Trailers, Or: How studios are trying desperately to make it so that we don’t need to go to the movies anymore

Directors, producers, studios: we need to talk. I’ve had about enough of forcing myself to avoid your marketing because you are intent on spoiling the entire damn film, sometimes months before we’ve even been given the chance to see the bloody thing.

Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve lost count of the amount of times where I’ve gone into a movie knowing not just the plot and some of the best bits of dialogue, but I’ve actually known the mid-film twist, or the big action sequence that’s supposed to be a surprise. All sense of awe has selfishly been taken away from me.

I go to the cinema to be amazed, to escape the day-to-day shittiness of having to go to work and to give me an excuse to babble on about films. Whether that’s with my mates, or in one of those many reviews I’m allowed to keep writing here.

What I don’t go to the flicks to do, is to watch the gaps in between the plot points and spoilers that I’ve already seen in your bloody trailers and TV spots.

So, of course, from here on in there will be spoilers. Mostly of older films, but I will telegraph them all and hopefully give you the opportunity to skip those you want to.

There are definitely degrees of spoiled bits, I reckon. There’s that key moment in last year’s Jurassic World where Chris Pratt’s main character, Owen, has his little bad ass moment. Zipping through the jungle growth on a bike followed by a herd of dinosaurs; that should be this amazing, awe inspiring moment. But we all knew it was coming. It was in the damn ads.

From the first reveal, to the final trailer: we saw Owen “taming” these animals one second and running with them like Mowgli and the wolves the next. But this ain’t that bad…. OK, it is. But it’s one action scene in a two hour film full of them. It’s almost understandable that you’d need to show something to whet the audiences’ appetite. There are plenty of other scenes you could have used, but whatever.

It’s nothing – and I mean nothing – compared to the now infamous Terminator: Genisys trailers. An average-at-best film (on a good day) needed a good marketing campaign to get people excited for it. After Salvation, no one wanted this pointless half reboot, and a great trailer campaign would’ve got you some serious hype.

Instead, the imbeciles whose only job was to sell me the movie decided to put the film’s defining moment, its big twist, in the god damn trailer. And here’s where my biggest issue with these bloody trailers lies – I can’t avoid them! I was staring at a screen the size of the barn when someone revealed that John Connor was a poxy Terminator!

So many films have fallen foul of this egregious marketing bullshit. Recently, X-Men: Apocalypse had Quicksilver’s family tree and a super-clawed cameo thrown directly into the faces of film goers in its final trailer The latter of which was revealed in TV spots during the ad breaks for any show on after 6pm.

Imagine trying to avoid spoilers for your next big film, only for it to be ruined because you had the audacity to be watching Coronation Street!

Southpaw gave away a vital plot point/character death in its initial trailer. Star Trek Beyond not only gave away massive plot points in its final trailer, but ruined what should have been a head nodding “awwwwww SHIT!” moment from the first reveal trailer. One of those Twitter buddies I hold so dear even had a spoileriffic trailer for The Huntsman: Winter’s War played to him in the trailer segment just before the Snow White sequel was due to be played.

I know it’s not a new phenomenon, I do. I know that as long as trailers have been a thing, they’ve been spoiling what they’ve been advertising, but surely it’s time for something to be done. As I write this, I’m furious (and deeply thankful) that another Twitter acquaintance warned me off of the latest Suicide Squad trailer as it reveals a load of act three spoilers! What the fuck, Warner Brothers?

It’s time these idiots leaned how to market their films. Recently, 10 Cloverfield Lane managed to get the world flocking to see it, even after it looked like a sequel to a mediocre film that no one really asked for.  Marketed perfectly, we all went in clear-headed with no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. And made an excellent film from it, too.

Or you can go the other way. You can pound us with never-ending ads, trailers and TV spots if you want. Why not? Deadpool did it. But its genius is in the fact that after trailer one, we got no new footage shown to us. A load of new stuff made especially for its campaign kept the jokes coming in at ten to the dozen, without killing the comedic payoff once the film actually came out.

Just take a look at what Adam Wingard did last week. He got us all super excited for his amazing looking, insanely creepy The Woods. Then went and revealed that it’s actually a Blair Witch sequel! He managed to grab a franchise many didn’t care for and as many had forgotten – myself included – and made me all kinds of excited for it. I guarantee that trailer has barely scratched the surface of what we see when the film hits!

Come on guys, you can do so much better. Some of the greatest, most memorable films that stuck with us came with stellar marketing campaigns too. There’s no need to explain the film’s plot, beat-by-beat. or reveal twists and show all the best bits in the 2-4 minutes you get to advertise your film.

Ask absolutely anyone. Blowing your load early like that is never pretty and people don’t come back for more.

Failed Critics Podcast: Minimal Effort

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Somebody hit the emergency switch at FC HQ earlier today. Only, what they didn’t realise, was that rather than stopping the machinery from whirring so that they could untangle their hair from the press, it instead sent all of the guests that we keep on stasis in their cryochambers shooting straight out of the vents and into a large pile of limbs, flesh and scrawled-on notepads near the FC skip.

Bugger.

Whilst we sort that mess out, the only two left undamaged were hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes who present this week’s podcast without the aid of any guests whatsoever. A first for Failed Critics!

Actually, all that stuff about cryochambers and a FC HQ is a load of bollocks. We just decided that for an experiment, given that we’re in the post-Civil War lull, that Owen and Steve should try presenting the show on their own. Does it work? Well, it’s not for us to say, but we still manage to squeeze over 100 minutes out of the pair of them. They look at the solo-Black Widow movie rumours, the Power Rangers reboot costume controversy, and gloss over last night’s BAFTA TV results.

Fresh from defeat last week, Owen explains why booby-prize Spice World is bad, but not the worst film he’s seen as a result of losing the quiz. Steve reviews new release Bad Neighbours 2 in our What We’ve Been Watching section, whilst Owen also reviews 2016’s indie thriller Hush.

Returning for the first time in a long while on this week’s episode is a triple bill. In honour of Steve and Owen going it alone, they each choose three films with minimal casts. There’s a beguiling mix of old and new, big and small budget; it’s fair to say there’s a wide range of films discussed on the show! Not only that, but your questions sent in to us on Twitter were answered. Everything from picking Bond songs that aren’t Bond songs, to what type of caravan is best for a bit o’ rockin’. Well… I say “answered”.

Join us again next week as we most definitely will be having guests back on the show. Please let us know if you think the little experiment worked, or if it was a failure!

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Failed Critics Podcast: Episode 202 – AND IT’S LIVE!

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Firstly, thanks to everyone who joined in on our live broadcast of episode 202 on our YouTube channel on Monday. We’re considering it a success – whether it was or wasn’t isn’t really up to Steve Norman, Owen Hughes and Andrew Brooker to decide! But people chatted to us during the show, we received messages via Twitter, and the live stream didn’t crash once. Huzzah!

This week’s podcast is pretty much a rip of the YouTube video edited into a more audio-friendly format. Jingles have been edited in, whilst the majority the references to stuff that happened visually that wouldn’t have made sense on an audio only podcast have been edited out.

What has been left in is our chat about this week’s film news, including another new Netflix movie acquisition starring Will Smith, directed by David Ayer, plus a set-top box that could potentially change the way we view cinema releases forever.

We’ve also got our round up of what we’ve been watching. Steve talks us through the generic but decent action film London Has Fallen; Owen discusses the first five episodes of the second season of Daredevil; and Brooker does his homework ahead of Batman v Superman by re-watching Nolan’s trilogy plus Man of Steel. Our new release reviews saw the team take in the safe-for-work porcelain doll horror The Boy, Ben Wheatley’s latest weird class-war narrative High Rise, and the thematic sequel to 2008’s monster movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane.

There’s even room for our regular film quiz and Steve’s reaction to Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, his booby-prize for losing last week’s quiz. Oh, and Owen’s mad rapping skills. Wiki-wiki-wild wild west…

Join us again next week as things return to normal for a review of DC’s newest blockbuster.

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Watch the full un-edited live broadcast of the episode (with webcams an’ all) on our YouTube channel.

10 Cloverfield Lane

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Preamble warning: I’m not going to include any direct spoilers, but this 10 Cloverfield Lane review may give away some minor plot details. Consider yourself warned.

If the 2008 monster movie, Cloverfield, also produced by JJ Abrams, is an allegory for the end of the Bush regime in the US – as Callum Petch eloquently explained on the latest episode of the Failed Critics Podcast – then it stands to reason that this thematic sequel would be a metaphor for Obama’s reign as President of the largest super-power in the world.

Like almost all good creature-features, there is some semblance of truth in that suggestion. Whether we consider Godzilla and the Pacific ocean atom bomb tests, or I Am Legend for communism (well the novel was at least), District 9 for apartheid or even Ed Wood’s notorious b-movie Plan 9 From Outer Space and the nuclear bomb threat; these sci-fi thrillers are very rarely just about giant monsters, vampire-zombie things or alien invaders. Cloverfield was no different – and neither is Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut.

Taken unconscious from the wreckage of a car accident by Howard (John Goodman), Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakens to find herself chained to the wall of a concrete room. Howard explains that he has saved her life, as the world outside of his underground survival bunker has been destroyed by an unknown force – possibly not even one of human origin. After meeting another survivor down in Howard’s bunker, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr), Michelle becomes even more suspicious of Howard’s apocalyptic claims.

“Where are the creatures?” I don’t hear you cry, but imagine you are thinking to yourself. Well, actually, forget about the fact that I compared this to a bunch of creature-features. It’s still a post-apocalyptic sci-fi of sorts, with three people holed up in one small fallout shelter with what may or may not be the end of the world. One of whom may or may not be slightly unhinged. And with what may or may not be a metaphor for burying your head in the sand, looking out for only yourself and the consequences of ignoring the world around you. Thanks, Obama.

Sure, all of that can be read into 10 Cloverfield Lane if you look for it. Should you find some extra comfort from observing a meta-text within this evenly structured, well paced and incredibly tense psychological thriller, then bully for you.

I don’t intend to sneer at anyone who can’t or didn’t see the parallels with the political state of the world; it’s entirely plausible that I’ve read too much into the plot considering the comments that I read and heard prior to sitting down in my cinema seat on Friday evening.

It’s quite likely that there may be some form of underlying thread running through the plot, and that it is about a transformational President’s attempts to change America, but that I’ve simply misinterpreted what that message is.

Hell, to be quite honest, it doesn’t even matter if there is or isn’t a subtext, or if you’re aware of unaware of it. What is most impressive about this “blood relative” (to quote JJ Abrams) of the original Cloverfield, is that it stands on its own two feet as a solid, atmospheric, borderline-great modern thriller. You don’t even need to have seen the original film to enjoy this. The two films are only as linked with each other as one episode of Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone is linked to another. Take it as a straight-up one-off story about a potential doomsday scenario if you’d prefer, and you will still enjoy it as much as the next guy. It really doesn’t matter.

On the surface, it seems as though the plot has been done a million times before, but I really can’t think of a film that it most closely resembles. Try and imagine Room mixed with that bit in War of the Worlds and melded with the paranoia of The Thing and I suppose you’re halfway there. Yet the beats are often unexpected and startling. John Goodman is fierce and pretty goddamn bonkers, a combination that serves to enhance the unpredictability of the plot. You are never quite convinced of the truth, but are constantly led to believe he’s both a firmly sincere gentleman and a downright liar.

Coupled with Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s resourcefulness and A-Team-esque skills, alongside John Gallagher Jr (who does take a little time for you to warm up to), it’s a very strong cast whose individual character traits perfectly compliment one anothers’ excellent performances. The only thing you’re certain of is that they are all trapped in there together, whether intentionally or by circumstance, and it makes for some rather gripping drama.

Cube! It’s also a bit like the fantastic little science fiction b-movie Cube.

Sorry, got slightly sidetracked there.

To sum up, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not an action-packed thriller full of Kurt Russell one-liners, but neither is it a dull, slow burning, contemplative chore. The action sequences, much like the tension, escalate to the point that the finale is as big a showdown (probably bigger) than one might expect from a film set almost entirely within one small bunker. Whilst acknowledging that dropping the found-footage angle does mean that a piece of what gave Cloverfield its distinctive quality is noticeably lacking – it really does feel like it’s all been seen before – nevertheless, it’s still unlike 90% of generic sounding, run of the mill blockbusters that are due out this summer and for that it deserves your attention.

Failed Critics Podcast: Zootopiatropolisplace

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This week’s episode of the Failed Critics Podcast features Callum Petch, returning for the first time in 2016, to join both Steve Norman and Owen Hughes for four new-release reviews.

With the latest entry in the Divergent Series franchise, it seemed almost impossible to record a show without Callum’s input on Allegiant – particularly after his last appearance on the pod the week after the previous instalment, Insurgent, came out! Continuing to play to Callum’s strengths this week, there are two new animated movies out. As if it wasn’t already well set up for him with a new Dreamworks Animation out, Kung Fu Panda 3, there’s also a new Disney film (Zootopia / Zootropolis / whichever it is wherever you’re from) which has already set the standard by which to judge all other movies this year – or, at least, that’s what Callum says.

As well as this, Steve and Callum have a chat about 2008’s monster-movie Cloverfield ahead of the upcoming 10 Cloverfield Lane, whilst Owen reminisces about the 90’s and watching cult comedy Beavis & Butt-Head Do America. In the news this week, we also take a look at the Indiana Jones 5 announcement, Han Solo casting news and the furore over Spider-Man’s cameo in the Civil War trailer.

Join us again next week for our 202nd episode. Yep. We’ve recorded 201 of these things so far. It’s as astonishing to us as I’m sure it is to you too.

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