“The Cloverfield Paradox”- Movie Review

The Cloverfield series has had an interesting run so far hasn’t it? It all started with a small yet cleverly crafted mash-mash of the found-footage and classic monster movie genres then followed it up with a psychological thriller with a touch of classic sci-fi flavor. Do the two have any sort of connection? Supposedly. Fans have been swapping theories and flooding the online forums in an attempt to figure out where the invisible bridge lies. According to creative minds behind the franchise, the answers to everyone’s questions will be answered in the franchise’s latest installment.

The year is 2028. An energy crisis has swept the Earth, and a team of scientists aboard the Cloverfield Station hopes a particle accelerator will revitalize the planet with an infinite amount of energy. But when the experiment goes terribly wrong, the entire crew is thrust into a dark alternate reality. Strange and disturbing things start to occur, and the clock is ticking as they try to figure out what’s going on and how to get back home.

I was one of those people who were obsessed with the first Cloverfield movie. I mean I was never so into it that I wrote analyses on where I thought the creature came from or make up my own theories or anything like that. But I do distinctly remember trying to bring it up in almost every conversation when I was in middle school. I loved that movie. I still do. The sequel, 10 Cloverfield Ln, is just as powerful in my opinion, delivering a contained, claustrophobic thriller with a compelling mystery woven throughout. This newest installment is by far the worst of the series so far, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad film.

The Cloverfield Paradox is a perfectly fine sci-fi adventure that promises answers but instead feeds us more questions. I’ve heard people compare it to anthologies like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. And….yeah I agree. While the film has a colorful sci-fi look to it, there’s nothing cinematic about it. The way it’s filmed and the way it’s crafted resembles a lower-budget extended episode of something like Black Mirror. So in the grand scheme of things, I think Netflix was the most suitable home for this film.

cloverfield-paradox-two

Cheapness may lie in its production design, but it doesn’t translate into the performances. This movie has quite the star-studded cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw (the lead), David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie and Ziyi Zhang just to name a few. With the exception of Mbatha-Raw, the actors don’t have much to work with. Their characters are pretty much set up as pawns- people who might or might not be offed as soon as things start going from bad to worse. Mbatha-Raw’s character is the only one to have any substantial development, but everyone gives one-hundred percent.

The overall narrative is where things get really out of whack. I get the impression that the film is trying simultaneously to accomplish two separate goals- to be its own thing as a sci-fi thriller and to bridge the gap between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Ln. It kind of sort of succeeds at the first. As for the second, not so much. The film has a lot of ideas but it has trouble messing them together to paint a cohesive picture. So the concept they’re going for winds up being more confusing than anything else, and the scenes that are specifically reminiscent of the monster madness from the first film seem tacked on and forced.

The Cloverfield Paradox is by far the worst of the Cloverfield trilogy, but as its own sci-fi thriller, it does its job okay. It’s an entertaining watch. The look of it, the performances, and my own curiosity helped keep my attention. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those movies where the more I think about it, the more I’ll understand it and form my own theory of how this whole franchise means and either like it or dislike it more. Who knows? But for now, this is my first impression. And as a first impression goes, The Cloverfield Paradox has just enough decent stuff in it to keep it from being a complete bore.

Cosmic Grade: 3/5 Stars

 

 

 

 

 

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