“The Cloverfield Paradox,” dir. Julius Onah
After a scientific experiment aboard the space station involving a particle accelerator has unexpected results, the astronauts find themselves isolated. Following their horrible discovery, the space station crew must fight for survival.
WARNING: This review goes a little in-depth on “The Cloverfield Paradox” while refraining from delving into spoiler territory.
It’s been a little over ten years since the release of “Cloverfield,” a terrific found-footage sci-fi thriller. Two years later, Paramount and J.J. Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, announced a surprise sequel titled “10 Cloverfield Lane,” which released just two months after the first trailer. The film defined the franchise as a “Twilight Zone”/”Black Mirror”-esque sci-fi saga, offering up great thrills and stellar performances from John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. Now, Bad Robot have teamed up with Netflix to release yet another secret installment in this unexpected franchise, “The Cloverfield Paradox.” The first trailer debuted during Super Bowl LII with the shocking news that it would be available to stream immediately following the big game. So with a strong track record up to this point and a solid cast to boot, it’s increasingly unfortunate that this fails as hard as it does.
Before diving into why this movie falls apart, some of the actors are doing the best they can with the material they’re given. Gugu Mbatha-Raw leads the film, effectively selling the emotions that her character endures as the events unfold. David Oyelowo, as usual, commits to his role even when dealing with some laughable dialogue at times. Lastly, Chris O’Dowd uses his solid comedic timing to deliver some much needed humor in a way that doesn’t feel unintentional.
It’s safe to assume by the film’s title that the plot has to deal with a paradox. The screenwriters, Oren Uzeil and Doug Jung aim big when exploring the possibilities of what could happen on this space station, but are never subtle in doing so while also not doing enough to keep the intrigue going or even provide a solid enough foundation for the rules of this universe. Instead, the bulk of “The Cloverfield Paradox” is blatantly reminiscent of far better space isolation films like “Alien,” “Gravity,” and even last year’s forgettable movie, “Life.”
There’s also a subplot dealing with Mbatha-Raw’s character’s husband back on Earth, played by Roger Davies, that unnecessarily pads out the runtime. Every time it cuts back to his storyline, the pacing is completely thrown off, coming off as more distracting than compelling. It probably would have been an even bigger inconvenience if the main story wasn’t so derivative and redundant, but at least there was progression within the narrative. There’s very minimal information in this subplot that has any significance to the rest of the film.
There isn’t much more to be said without getting into spoilers. Long story short, as impressive as it was to drop a high-profile film online just hours after announcing it to the world, “The Cloverfield Paradox” is a giant misfire. Paramount clearly realized early on that this wouldn’t have had any success as a theatrical release and saw an opportunity to partner with Netflix and generate quick and easy internet buzz that’s sure to fade away quickly. Had the final product been any good, this kind of extraordinary release strategy would have had much more weight behind it. But hey, at least it’s not as bad as “Bright.”
Did you rush to watch “The Cloverfield Paradox” on Netflix right after the Big Game? Are you a fan of the “Cloverfield” franchise? Are you hoping to see more movies follow this release strategy? Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.
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