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The Cloverfield Universe and my nerd theory about it: MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING I TELL THE WHOLE PLOT

primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' BoopinDetroit, MI Icrontian
edited Dec 2016 in Internet & Media

I just finished watching 10 Cloverfield Lane.

I'll start by saying that as a standalone film, it was very well-acted, extremely tense, and an all-around great thriller. John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr all delivered excellent acting performances.

Now, the moment the credits rolled it hit me like a goddamned tidal wave.

THESE ARE HALF-LIFE MOVIES.

Hear me out.

The first Cloverfield movie is a disjointed shaky-cam first-person experience of what it would be like if a giant monster started destroying New York City. There are smaller monsters as well but the main villain is a massive, screen-filling presence that is beyond explanation or comprehension to the people in the film. One of the greatest attributes of the movie (and the reason I loved it) is that the monster is never explained. The never even try. Is it an alien? Is it aliens? Is it Godzilla? A mutant from a nuclear accident? Is it an Elder God wakening from deep beneath the sea to bring insanity and chaos to the mortal realm? We don't know because the people holding the camera don't know. How can they? They're just filming their attempts at staying alive. My first thoughts when I saw it were, "Wow... this is what it would actually be like if a giant monster inexplicably started destroying New York City."

10 Cloverfield Lane is not a sequel; it's a completely separate story that takes place in a totally different setting. In this case, it takes place in rural Louisiana. Again, the situation that our heroine finds herself in is inexplicable and beyond comprehension. She has no idea why she has been taken captive, why she is in a bunker, and through a series of revelations, why the outside of the bunker is so thoroughly and totally fucked (hint: it was aliens).

When she wakes up, she is weak, scared, and lost. By the time she escapes the bunker, she has learned a great deal about herself, including her ability to overcome her biggest failing (being able to stand up to an abusive and dangerous man), and discovers that she can be a fearless badass when put into a dire situation. She escapes hellish captivity only to find herself in brand new world, one that makes absolutely no sense. Again, this is what it would really be like if for some reason, a doomsday prepper crazy person just happened to be right, and his conspiracies of alien invasion of earth became true, and he just happened to be able to take captives into his bunker under the auspices of "saving them" from a worse fate.

When she escapes, she finds herself in a world that has been invaded by aliens and, barring any context or information other than what she observes with her own eyes, must now figure out how to survive and find others. She ends up killing an alien in the process, and discovers through AM radio that there are indeed other survivors, and they are gathering in Houston, and they are fighting back and winning, so she heads there. That's the movie.

Now, here's why these are Half-Life movies:

It is clear that JJ Abrams has set the stage for a Cloverfield cinematic universe. These two films, though utterly disconnected in style and theme, are both taking place on the same backdrop of inexplicable monsters/aliens suddenly appearing and invading. These vignettes are the perfect vehicle to convey the exact same feeling I got when I first finished Half-Life 2: This is what it would really be like if this crazy thing happened. Think about it: Aliens invading earth is a tale as old as time. It's a cheesy premise that has never really been done well, but in HL2 it is done extraordinarily well. It's not just some monolithic "Independence Day" thing where aliens just arrive from space, weapons blazing. They were brought here by an experiment gone wrong and once the portals were opened, the universe-spanning Combine became aware of a new planet to harvest. What care did they have that other unrelated alien species were also there? They were all basically alien "animals" (the dogs, the antlions, etc.) and if they could use these other harvested species to control humans, all the better. What better way to take down a massive population center (NYC) than by dropping in a gigantic, destructive, animal weapon?

In the rural setting of Louisiana, however, no giant weaponized animal is needed as the population is so sparse and spread out; instead they send out harvester creatures that fly, dangle tentacles down, and that spray corrosive chemicals to handle larger areas. They also send out small, hungry, predatory hunting animals (the houndeyes) to pick off humans.

Michelle, who wears a white tank top through the whole movie and has short, curly, dark hair (Sound familiar?), after discovering her ability to fight back, decides to make a decision to join the human resistance. In a 5-second span at the end of the movie, the Cloverfield universe now becomes a story of humans fighting back an alien invasion.

If you were to tell me that the original Cloverfield had absolutely nothing to do with Half-Life, I'd believe you. If you told me that 10 Cloverfield Lane had nothing to do with Half-Life, I'd tell you you were full of shit. The beauty is that the original Cloverfield can VERY easily be fit into a Half-Life universe of films with zero additional explanation. It takes place in the same world that was invaded in 10 Cloverfield Lane? Of course? Different alien, different area, same time frame. Same world.

Now for the other evidence: JJ Abrams has already discussed making the Half-Life and/or Portal movies. This is happening: http://www.polygon.com/2013/2/6/3960520/jj-abrams-valve-half-life-portal-movies

What better way (and a giant geek-bomb of mindfuck) to launch the Half-Life cinematic IP than by announcing "Oh by the way, the first two movies are already out and you've already seen them". BOOM. He has just successfully completed the most well-delivered video game movie of all time. If you had hyped up Cloverfield as "A movie based on Half-Life by Valve" you would have had a series of bad box office and disappointed fans and reviews. "This movie sucked, where was gordon where was black mesa blah blah blah the alien wasn't even in the game blah blah nerdrage whine whine", and it would have died then and there. Instead, JJ and Gaben have set the stage in the most glorious way possible; the movies are here, they are telling the story from the human perspective, with character development and early hints as to what is really going on. Even if that wasn't the intention in the beginning, it doesn't matter because Cloverfield still fits either way. That's the beauty of it. Nobody would question the first Cloverfield movie suddenly being about the Combine attacking NYC with a giant monster. THAT'S WHAT THEY DO.

I'm calling it right here, right now: The second movie in the Half-Life cinematic universe was released this week. It is an origin story for our future heroine Michelle.

colaRahnalH102GHoosdumCliff_Forster

Comments

  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    Oh and have you ever heard of Dan Trachtenberg, the director? No?

    THE ONLY OTHER THING HE MADE WAS A PORTAL FAN FILM. /fin

    Cliff_Forster
  • A couple of things that will squash (or add fuel) to the flames:

    • This past weekend, when interviewed about 10CL, JJ said that Half-Life & Portal are still movies they're interested and making and hope to happen one day.
    • 10CL was initially going to be called "The Cellar". The script was rewritten about 2-3 years ago and was handed to Danny T. The code name for the film was "Valencia", named after a famous navy (?) battle location that Goodman's character reflected on as being monumental. That speech was cut from the final draft of the movie, so the name was changed to 10CL to better fit in thematically with Cloverfield, which is to say that it's a thriller based on real situations people would face and how they would react of these things happened to them. In fact, the alien aspect was rumored to have been added in during the script rewrite.
    • 10CL is going to be a part of an anthology of Cloverfield films, all fitting in thematically with that above concept. Cloverfield 2 is still on JJ's mind and he wants to make it... eventually.
    • In the original Cloverfield's post-credit scene, an alien "egg" or meteor is clearly seen dropping into the ocean, and (if I recall) there are references to it in the film as such. So, it's an alien, and it's pretty apparent.

    Now, on to your actual theory:
    I like it, but I think JJ didn't get the Valve rights until 2 years ago, after the Cellar's script was rewritten. A Half-Life cinematic universe is probably on the way, but I feel as though the Black Mesa angle would be the first thing they'd develop, if they wanted to sneak something in front of us.

    Personally, I wasn't in love with the film like everyone else was. There were several scenes that seemed to drag out too long, and the aliens felt shoe-horned in. It was a good popcorn flick, but I don't like it as much as the OG Cloverfield.

  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    @kewlrats said:
    A couple of things that will squash (or add fuel) to the flames:

    First: you filthy bastard this is what gets you to post on IC, to argue with me? OH IT'S ON, DIMOVSKI. :D

    • This past weekend, when interviewed about 10CL, JJ said that Half-Life & Portal are still movies they're interested and making and hope to happen one day.

    Of course he's going to say that! They haven't dropped the bomb yet. They probably won't at all. They'll make another Cloverfield movie that drops a few more hints and weaves the story together a bit tighter and the BOOM, he'll pull all the threads and it will turn into a tapestry: "Look what I made, TA-DA SURPRISE IT'S HALF-LIFE LOL". My prediction is that by the next Cloverfield movie, the hints will be so obvious that they'll probably announce the fourth installment as a Half-Life movie.

    • 10CL was initially going to be called "The Cellar". The script was rewritten about 2-3 years ago and was handed to Danny T. The code name for the film was "Valencia", named after a famous navy (?) battle location that Goodman's character reflected on as being monumental. That speech was cut from the final draft of the movie, so the name was changed to 10CL to better fit in thematically with Cloverfield, which is to say that it's a thriller based on real situations people would face and how they would react of these things happened to them. In fact, the alien aspect was rumored to have been added in during the script rewrite.

    Again, this says nothing more than that these movies can very easily be shoe-horned into being Half-Life movies even if that wasn't the original intent. After all, what is Half-Life about more than this thing you just said: "a thriller based on real situations people would face and how they would react of these things happened to them". THAT IS HALF-LIFE and the only thing is that the real situations are EXTRAORDINARY (yet still strangely believable).

    • 10CL is going to be a part of an anthology of Cloverfield films, all fitting in thematically with that above concept. Cloverfield 2 is still on JJ's mind and he wants to make it... eventually.

    Means nothing.

    • In the original Cloverfield's post-credit scene, an alien "egg" or meteor is clearly seen dropping into the ocean, and (if I recall) there are references to it in the film as such. So, it's an alien, and it's pretty apparent.

    Combine does this.

    Now, on to your actual theory:
    I like it, but I think JJ didn't get the Valve rights until 2 years ago, after the Cellar's script was rewritten. A Half-Life cinematic universe is probably on the way, but I feel as though the Black Mesa angle would be the first thing they'd develop, if they wanted to sneak something in front of us.

    Again, not important. Even if the rights were secured beforehand, JJ could have been making them as Half-Life movies and if it didn't work out then voila, they're just alien movies, which is why there are no overt, obvious Half-Life IP mentions. But hey, there's a Chell, there's a Resistance, there's a Combine, there's a Houndeye. "Oh, what a crazy random happenstance".

  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    This guy lays it out pretty much like I did. I am definitely not the only one who had this thought

  • GnomeQueenGnomeQueen The Lulz Queen Mountain Dew Mouth Icrontian
    edited Mar 2016

    OMG SPOILERS THANKS BRIAN

  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian

    Now I must see these films.

    I agree that the 2008 Cloverfield didn't have to be intended as a Half Life IP for it to tie in, assuming the film is pretty much just people running from some unseen terror, you can go back and say, yeah, those where aliens coming through the portal that that knucklehead Freeman opened up. The latest film they see an opportunity and roll with it. I like it, I don't think the film universe has to simply re tell the game narrative to be an effective expansion of the mythology.

    @primesuspect - The one problem with this, we will likely never see a third film now. The world may never know.

    primesuspectRahnalH102
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    The biggest naysaying from the nerd community that I've been seeing is: "UH DUH IF IT'S HALF-LIFE WHYCOME NO GRODAN FIREMAN AN MICHELLE IS NAME OF MICHELLE NOT ALYX VINCE DUHHHH IDIOT AN WHUR BLACK MISA AND WHYCOME NO GUNS ITS FIRST PRESON SHOOTER IDIOT SHITFUCK"

    I think these movies are explorations into stories of regular everyday people during the Black Mesa incident, not the stories of the incident themselves. They are taking time to see if these stories are compelling enough to keep telling. If it doesn't work out, hey, they're just cool, vaguely-connected alien invasion movies. If it seems to work, though, pure genius: DING, they're Half-Life movies.

    It's brilliant.

  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian

    Icrotnic needs a "Mind Blown" button.

  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian
    edited Mar 2016

    Just watched the original Cloverfield. My review, It takes Hud way too long to die. Otherwise, the aliens, kinda Half Life like. Maybe not intentional, but if someone were to try and spin that, I'd say, I buy it, the aliens feel like they can fit the mythology. Especially the smaller ones, they kinda have a head crab feel. I'm going to try and see the new one this weekend, hopefully this one has better acting.

    Am I horrible that I wanted all the hipsters to get eaten?

  • GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian

    If the aliens in Cloverfield aren't ant lions, I don't know what they are!

  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian

    @GHoosdum you are right, they look like antlions now that you say it.

  • CantiCanti =/= smalltime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9K18CGEeiI&feature=related Icrontian

    I mentioned this theory to a co-worker who has seen the movies and knows the general premise of Half-Life. Her response was, "Oh so it's like The Mist". Different director but as far as concept this also fits in with your idea. Might want to check it out.

  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian

    Saw 10 Cloverfield Lane today... For me, instant classic, significantly better than a the 2008 film where the FPS HUD is a hipster carrying a Sony Handycam and yelling, JESUS, DUDE, OMG over and over again.... It isn't even close, the film currently in theaters is amazing, it is the stuff that makes me love film.

    Forget the FACT that these are Half Life / Portal films. (It is way beyond speculation in my mind). This is one incredible film. It is a modern Hitchcock film, or M. Night Shyamalan before he sucked if you prefer. It is tense, it is perfectly acted, it is well paced with logical first, second and third acts. Everything about it satisfies. The dialog, the situations, they all have purpose, they build these characters in this very intimate setting. I really love this scene where they all decide to play a guessing game to kill some time and Howard (John Goodman's character) can't see Michelle as a woman, to him she is a kid, a girl, a little princess. It gets you into the characters head in a way without just spoon feeding it to you.

    If you have not seen it, you should. Spoiled and all, just do it.

    primesuspect
  • AlexDeGruvenAlexDeGruven Not as tall as Bobby Tallbeer. Twilight Sparkle is overrated. Meechigan Icrontian

    Finally got a chance and watched both movies today while I was 'working from home'.

    I could DEFINITELY see them tying these movies in to a HL franchise, and if so, I like that there's no Gordon Freeman (yet. Is it too early to start casting?), or anything directly recognizable from the franchise.

    Knowing this post existed, I made sure to keep a very close eye and ear for anything that would give it away. As for the first movie, yeah. Whether it was intended or not, those are totally antlions.

    In 10CL, I heard some very familiar sounds coming out of the little alien thing, not quite a head-crab, but enough to grab my attention.

    What I want now is a movie that takes place somewhere else and references "The Black Mesa Incident", but is not yet overtly there. Maybe an appearance by the GMan (please, let's start casting already!), or a familiar monster or something.

    Then a 4th movie with our man Gordon. Treat it as a prequel, or something. But give me the game Half Life as a movie and I won't care, anyway.

    Cliff_Forster
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    I would just like to take this time to let you all know that JJ Abrams is within 500 feet of me and I am willing to lose my job to confront him on this.

    Ryderelyxandra
  • KwitkoKwitko Sheriff of Banning (Retired) By the thing near the stuff Icrontian

    DO IT!!!

  • mertesnmertesn I am Bobby Miller Yukon, OK Icrontian

    This is not JJ Abrams. No lens flares.

    BuddyJCliff_ForsterRyanMMGHoosdum
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI Icrontian

    God Particle is the next movie

    Cliff_ForsterRyanMM
  • KwitkoKwitko Sheriff of Banning (Retired) By the thing near the stuff Icrontian

    @primesuspect said:
    I said, "I have one thing to say to you"

    "Cloverfield is Half-Life"

    I wanted to see the look on his face.

    He paused, looked down for a minute as if to calculate his next words.

    "That's an interesting theory. I like it"

    Then he told me that there was a new Cloverfield movie coming out in October and that I would love it and it's "going to be nuts"

    You win the internet.

    Cliff_Forster
  • Cliff_ForsterCliff_Forster Baltimore, MD Icrontian

    Good question and all but you could not get me a role in a future project??? I would make a bitchin chubby cranky Alien.

  • RyanMMRyanMM Ferndale, MI Icrontian

    Oh, hey, Brian, 2008 called, they want their theory back. ;)

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2008/feb/14/cloverfieldishalflife

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