‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Review: Satisfying Connections, Unsatisfying Film

The Cloverfield Paradox ReviewNetflix had accomplished the unprecedented during Super Bowl LII. After acquiring the distribution rights of The Cloverfield Paradox from Paramount Pictures, the streaming giant debuted the first official look at the elusive Julius Onah-directed film during the big game. But that was not even the big news.

As it turned out, Netflix would be dropping the third Cloverfield film immediately after the end of the game.

Right from that moment, fans nationwide and abroad got pretty hyped that they had the opportunity to watch the newest entry in the Cloverfield franchise in the comfort of their own homes – and this is all thanks to the geniuses at Netflix, which is certainly receiving record-breaking ratings as we speak with this groundbreaking publicity stunt.

This brilliant marketing play is on par with Paramount Pictures’ campaign with 10 Cloverfield Lane. When the first trailer for that film dropped and was revealed to be in the same franchise as Matt Reeves’ 2008 found footage thriller, fans lost their minds. After years of anticipation and speculation, perhaps audiences would be receiving some answers to the complex mystery box that is Cloverfield. And while there were certainly some connections to the original film, 10 Cloverfield Lane succeeded at being its own story with engaging characters that happened to inhabit the same world. Honestly, if there was no mention of “Cloverfield” in the title at all, you would still get an engaging, tense bottle film.

Unfortunately, while 10 Cloverfield Lane succeeds beyond its connections to its predecessor, The Cloverfield Paradox coasts on those connections in order to engage its audience throughout an otherwise derivative and unsatisfying story.

The Cloverfield Paradox finds Earth suffering through an energy crisis that is threatening the planet’s well-being. Through all this chaos, a war is brewing. In order to solve this predicament, the collective space agencies of the planet unite to launch the Cloverfield Station in order to test the Shepard particle accelerator – given that this experiment is too dangerous to test on Earth itself. The crew of the Cloverfield Station have been testing the particle accelerator for over two years and although it looks as though they finally succeed, something inevitably goes horribly wrong.

The film is centered on the crew of the Cloverfield Station, which is populated by several two dimensional characters with little-to-no backstories. The only character the audience gets to truly know is Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who serves as the lead of the film. We get a glimpse at Hamilton’s past and her life on Earth before she joined the crew of the Cloverfield Station and she is likable enough to remain engaged with in the hopes that she survives the catastrophic events that occur along the way. It does help that we have a wonderful actress in Mbatha-Raw to add more layers to a character that a lesser actress wouldn’t have.

But besides Hamilton, her fellow Cloverfield Station crew members have little-to-no character development of their own. Although the crew boasts an impressive ensemble of performers in David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Zhang Ziyi, Elizabeth Debicki and Aksel Hennie, their respective characters are given lackluster material to work with. Sure, the cast are trying their best with the material given, and there is certainly a sense of chemistry within the ensemble, but at the end of the day, they are generic characters devoid of anything remotely interesting other than the fact that they are portrayed by actors and actresses that deserve a better script.

While the cast holds their own for what they are working with, the story itself is deeply derivative. Obviously, the basic premise immediately screams Ridley Scott’s Alien, right down to some similar narrative beats and typical cliches found in most Alien imitations. Some members in the crew suffer tragic ends similarly to the crew of the Nostromo. In Alien, those losses are effective to the story and in the development of our heroine Ripley but with The Cloverfield Paradox, the losses lack emotional weight given their lackluster character development.

Another major issue in the film’s narrative is in its explanations regarding the crew’s signature dilemma. The film explores somewhat interesting territory with ideas such as parallel dimensions. However, while there are interesting ideas to be found, the film’s explanation for the central conflict is murky at best and supremely convoluted at worst. Because of this, much of the narrative tissue turns out half-baked and ultimately unsatisfying.

The Cloverfield Paradox is not without it strengths. As mentioned earlier, the film does have some interesting connections to the original Cloverfield film – particularly whenever it cuts back to what is going on in Earth. Although these few cutaways killed some of the momentum with the scenes inside Cloverfield Station, these cutaways back to Earth provide some of the most exciting hints towards the broader universe established from the first film that will make fans squeal. Also, for all the flaws within the clunky scientific explanations in the film’s half-baked narrative, there are still some insightful answers to be found for many fan theories that have lasted for over 10 years after 1-18-08.

That being said, those connections to the original film can only satisfy the audience for so long. And as cool as those connections can be, the fan-service goes way too far in the film’s laughable final shot.

At the end of the day, The Cloverfield Paradox succeeds primarily as a remarkable marketing experiment by Netflix. In a lot of ways, the unprecedented hype for this film as a result of the Super Bowl announcement was also the film’s downfall. When watching The Cloverfield Paradox  at home, it is quite easy to forget that this film was originally set to be released in theaters later this year given the unremarkable visual effects that would succeed best as a Netflix or HBO original rather than a multi-million dollar blockbuster made for theatrical distribution.

One can argue that the marketing gimmick is simultaneously the best and worst thing in having this film finally see the light of day. At its best, The Cloverfield Paradox will always be remembered for its incredible 15 minutes of fame throughout the Super Bowl hype. At its worst, it is a derivative and unsatisfying narrative that coasts on its connective tissue to two superior films. A paradox indeed.

Rating: 4.5/10 

Top 10 Superhero Films & Shows We Are Excited For In 2018

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10 Most Anticipated Events Of 2018 In Comic Book EntertainmentIt seems that with each passing year, the Heroic Age of Hollywood continues to prosper through numerous mediums. Of course, comic book movies continue to dominate at the box office and 2018 will certainly be no different, but the colorful heroes and villains found in the panels of our favorite comic books and graphic novels have also fared pretty well in the television and video game mediums.

After a remarkable 2017 of solid superhero entertainment, 2018 seems to up the ante even further, boasting some exciting new films, TV series and more for fans to enjoy. Here is a rundown of some of our most anticipated 2018 projects.

Click Next to begin the 2018 rundown.

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Noah Villaverde

Noah Villaverde

Cinema lover. Saxophone player. Coffee consumer. Chronic complainer. Oh, I also write. #TeamHeroic