The Cloverfield Paradox: Film Review

I am a big fan of the previous two Cloverfield films, so I was looking forward to what was originally titled God Particle, the next instalment in the series, which was set to hit cinemas in April. So I was pretty disappointed when I learned that it was going straight to Netflix – and was in fact already there. As a big cinema supporter, I was convinced this was the wrong move, a big-budget sci-fi should be seen on the big screen, but after watching it, I kinda understand why it happened.

The year is 2028 and there is a global energy crisis. Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Kiel (David Oyelowo), Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) are crewmembers onboard the Cloverfield Station in space alongside the likes of Mundy (Chris O’Dowd) and Tam (Zhang Ziyi). They are testing the Shepard particle accelerator, which could solve the crisis if it works. They are warned by conspiracy theorists that if it does, it could create the “Cloverfield Paradox”, in which portals from other dimensions could open and monsters could come to Earth. After two years testing Shepard, they finally achieve success, but subsequently discover Earth has disappeared and many weird, unexpected things begin to happen.

Critics have absolutely savaged The Cloverfield Paradox and while I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s good, I think some people have been overly harsh. It isn’t a total car crash and it has quite a few redeeming qualities. The concept is actually pretty decent, fresh and exciting so it’s frustrating that it becomes such a mess and relies upon ‘scientists trapped in space’ cliches that we have seen plenty of times in the Alien movies, and even the 2017 film Life.

The cast assembled here are impressive, with Mbatha-Raw doing the emotional heavy-lifting and O’Dowd providing some comedy, although I’m not sure it was supposed to be funny. But they are all let down by the script, which basically consists of them yelling science jargon and instructions at each other while they run around the station trying to fix things and figure out what’s going on (like the viewer!) Nobody is given a decent introduction except Hamilton, who is only one given a back story and a husband Michael (Roger Davies), who we cut back to often. The film just acts like we have met everyone before and launches straight into the action so we have no idea who these people are. It’s hard to care for anybody or the story when the characters are so thinly-written, so the actors do a great job with what they are given, which isn’t an awful lot.

There are some exciting set pieces and tense moments, which I won’t spoil, it moved along at a swift pace, it looked cool and Elizabeth Debicki was a brilliant villain and easily the most interesting and mysterious character, even though the explanation for her existence still makes my head pop. The strange goings on are presumably all caused by this Paradox but I was still quite confused. I followed it to an extent but I couldn’t give a solid explanation if asked.

The main problems lie with the script and possibly the edit because the idea and the cast are decent. It just didn’t give the actors much to work with and the audience to invest in. This also feels like a cheap marketing ploy as there is very little connection to Cloverfield. Certainly the worst in the series so far.

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