Film Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Netflix Originals:

The Cloverfield Paradox, 2018

Directed by: Julius Onah

Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi

 

Well, this film certainly came out of nowhere. Once called God Particle and due for a February cinematic release, an advert during Super Bowl Sunday advertised The Cloverfield Paradox’s sudden release . . . on Netflix. Set on a space station in the year 2028, a crew tries to use a particle accelerator to solve Earth’s energy crisis, but accidentally get knocked onto another dimension, where strange things happen (as two worlds are bled together) and the new planet Earth is not their home.

While it’s obviously the weakest of the franchise, it’s still a pretty decent space-station thriller. It plays out like all space-station alien invasion films . . . just, without the alien, and I kind of liked this. Much like with how 10 Cloverfield Lane treated Howard and whether or not we should trust him, The Cloverfield Paradox makes it seem like aliens are around every corner on the spaceship despite much evidence against that. And the acting is very solid throughout; Gugu Mbatha-Raw being the obvious standout with a very solid performance, helped by her character’s tragic back-story (she was the only character to be given a back-story). However there are some issues with The Cloverfield Paradox.

Firstly, it promises to explain the origin of the monster from the original, but doesn’t really do an effective job at that. It doesn’t do anything different in the space-station thriller genre (even replicating scenes from Alien) aside from its lack of an alien and the other dimension problem. The writing isn’t amazing (and barely scraped its 3* grade) as news reports tell a lot of the story and one conversation at the beginning basically spoiled what was going to happen, and it also used humour in this film, but not very well. Some of the jokes were rather humorous, but Chris O’Dowd (Molly’s Game), who is hilarious in almost everything I’ve seen him in, didn’t get me chuckling too much when he’s trying too hard to be funny moments after something serious had happened to him. And overall it just sort of meanders through at a point, with not much exciting happening and anything remotely complex briefly explained and ignored (such as how their plan is to use the particle accelerator to get them home, as it got them there, with no real reason as to why it would work like that). It also didn’t connect the series enough for me; I can buy aliens invading, even if it is kind of confusing to have aliens invading at different points (as Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane are eight years apart), but throwing in other dimensions and arms moving on their own with no reasonable explanations and walls being immediately magnetic and the franchise can appear at face value a bit silly.

Overall a fine film, but a bit confusing in the Cloverfield timeline and nothing out of the ordinary in its own genre, with fine acting the biggest positive with a confusing tone and some sub-par writing.

 

Plot: * * *            Acting: * * *       Writing: * * *     Presentation: * * *

Overall Rating: * * *

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