February 15, 2018 The Cloverfield Paradox (Movie Review)
Directed by Julius Onah (The Girl Is in Trouble 2015, Luce 2018) and written by Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street 2014, Shimmer Lake 2017) and Doug Jung (Dark Blue series, Star Trek: Beyond 2016), The Cloverfield Paradox is a film centered around the Cloverfield premise and it arrived to Netflix on February 4, 2018. The third installment in the franchise, behind 2008’s Cloverfield and 2016’s Cloverfield Lane, does the J. J. Abrams (Star Trek 2009, Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015) produced new edition live up to its predecessors?
In The Cloverfield Paradox, a group of scientists are orbiting a planet on the brink of war, trying to test a device to solve an energy crisis and, ultimately, they end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle 2013, Beauty and the Beast 2017), David Oyelowo (Selma 2014, Queen of Katwe 2016), Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds 2009, Captain America: Civil War 2016), John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook 2012, Kong: Skull Island 2017), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids 2011, Moone Boy series), Aksel Hennie (Headhunters 2011, Hercules 2014), Ziyi Zhang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2000, Memoirs of a Geisha 2005), Elizabeth Debicki (Gatsby 2013, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 2017), Roger Davies (Dream Team series, Hounded series), and many more.
Clearly it seems that the team behind these amazing films are trying to purchase side-films to keep the hype of the Cloverfield franchise alive, reworking them to fit the context of the previous feature films. This one seems no different, sadly serving as a connection and explanation to the Cloverfield films from this point forward.
The film really tries its best to deliver a sense of tension and fright that the series is so well-known for in its predecessors, but sadly it does not reach a point at any time where it actually lives up to these expectations. Aside from some really well-done special effects and the decent yet cringe-worthy body horror, there is not much to say other than that this is quite possibly the only reason why many would sit though such a film experience. There are moments in the film where, even though we have an extremely-gifted cast of actors and actresses, there is too much extraneously-wordy dialogue shoe-horned in to prove to the audience that this film is impacted by the Cloverfield phenomenon.
In fact, The Cloverfield Paradox ultimately takes the viewer, fan or not, into a weird place of painful on-screen awkwardness; eventually leaving behind an uncomfortable aura that does not really go away from beginning to end. This could have been dealt with in a more efficient way, using outside characters to help the explanation along, as it could have been expected that many would already know of the Cloverfield premise. This resulted in many missed opportunities that could have served as great dialogue connections to the other films, which is needed when one is dealing with the treatment of using other film material that has been established already in other works.
At the end of the film it becomes obvious why a major movie studio never picked this title up and why. Ultimately, The Cloverfield Paradox was simply released to an online video platform. Of course, to say the film was completely terrible is not entirely true: it is enthusiastic and energetic use of its actors and special effects create a viewing experience that is worthy of watching, if at least once. However, dialogue and loss of plot keep this film from being the exciting experience that it could have been.
While it is understood that the Cloverfield premise is meant to not have any conclusive meaning until everything is pulled together, the under-active writing does not serve as a placeholder for being ambiguous. Though a talented group of actors and special effects make this worth watching, it is a side-sequel that is filled with pointless dialogue at times and unanswered plot questions. Trailers made this a must-see but did not follow through with the actual film experience. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives The Cloverfield Paradox 2.5 out of 5 stars.