Director: Julius Onah
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Chris O’Dowd
Review Author: Tony
Have you ever had too little ingredients to make a full meal so instead you gather a bunch of usually tasty ingredients and throw them all together hoping for a stroke of genius but instead you’re left with an uneven overpacked mess? Well, you might just have cooked up The Cloverfield Paradox.
Since last year, when the project was originally called God Particle, I’ve been following this film closely. As a hardcore sci-fi enthusiast and a fan of the Cloverfield series thus far, the lack of information besides a small synopsis had me intrigued. I was all aboard the Cloverfield film series. The idea of an ongoing anthology series of science fiction films made my nether region quiver. Cracks began to surface when the film was frequently delayed in 2017.
Eventually, it was pushed to 2018 without an official release date. Another cause for panic was Paramount’s decision to hand over its release to Netflix with no plans for a theatrical release. This was similar to another move that drew criticism earlier this year with Paramount’s decision to hand over Annihilation’s international release to Netflix as producer, David Ellison, deemed the film ‘too complicated’.
The decision to drop the first trailer during the Super Bowl and subsequently release the feature on Netflix right after the game was a stroke of genius. Rather than spend millions on marketing and hyping the project with posters, teasers, and trailers; Netflix instead threw it all out there on one of the biggest television events of the year. The Cloverfield series has used ingenious ways to market each film but The Cloverfield Paradox is unprecedented, a move that got everyone talking.
For the first half, the build-up was justified. The film kicks into gear almost immediately and the first signs of events going awry have weight and impact. There are moments of body horror and madness that brought Event Horizon to mind and had me hoping for a Lovecraftian tale in space. Then the second half saunters in and eradicates all good memories of the first. Any logical conclusion to the strange proceedings is just given the illogical explanation of Parallel Universes bro, shit doesn’t need to make sense. The crew runs amok and makes the Prometheus crew look like geniuses. The film drops all horror elements and becomes a run of the mill, we’ve got to get back home storyline. But perhaps most insulting is how uninspired the film becomes by ripping cliches and plot elements from better films.
The film was reshot and the plot changed in post-production and it’s painfully obvious. There’s a tacked on story where one of the crew’s partners is back on earth. It’s derivative and amounts to nothing but to lazily tie the film to the first Cloverfield. What worked for the first two films was how self-contained they were, the first had a grand scale event happening in the background but we followed just a close group of people trying to survive, the second is basically a bottle film which mostly takes place in a handful of rooms. Cloverfield Paradox is so uneven in tone and story that it never utilizes the claustrophobia of the spacecraft’s tight corridors (a setting that’s been pretty established since 1979).
While only a brief moment of exciting buzz, the product could not live up to the event. Another case of a film being butchered in postproduction to fit an overarching story. The Cloverfield Paradox attempts to establish a connecting narrative for the series but only succeeds in muddying the waters and leaving me confused. If the series is to thrive, it needs to focus on original and strange tales that stand on their own two feet (maybe with an odd easter egg from previous films).
Rating: 2 / 5 Guinness