[REVIEW] The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
The latest installment in the Cloverfield “franchise” was given a surprise release yesterday on Netflix.
Hundreds of pop culture blogs and news sites went into absolute “freak out” mode as Netflix, in their typical secret societal fashion, unleashed the latest addition to J.J Abram’s ‘whatever the fuck’ sci fi franchise. And JJ, I use the term “franchise” very loosely. The auto-buffering Netflix trailer jumps in with the premise of the original monster found camera footage of Cloverfield (2008), now see The Cloverfield Paradox and witness “how it all started.” A likely story.
The Cloverfield Paradox is a poor man’s loose change of a Prequel. Set 10 years in the future, in a world facing a global energy crisis, TCP follows the recent failures of The Cloverfield space station’s attempts to create a renewable energy source via the Shepherd particle accelerator. After almost two years of failed experiments they achieve their mission. Or so it seems. Unbeknownst to them, the Shepherd beam has caused two dimensions to crash in on one another. So begins a cavalcade of what-the-fuckery best explained as a messy cut and paste homage to all the great 1980s-early 90s sci fi thrillers. A second Event Horizon this movie is not.
It doesn’t take the most seasoned of sci fi nerd to figure out where this movie is headed. The movie progresses with each dead crew member falling to a cosmic cuckold situation of body parts, blood and decompression. I was willing to sit through and take this movie for what it is but then the worm scene. Fans of Alien will see this scene and want to turn it off promptly, followed by cleaning the palette with the most intellectually deficient documentary that Netflix has to offer.
Continue your viewing displeasure at your own risk with the introduction of Elizabeth Debricki’s character “Mina”, the mysterious crew member who randomly appears out of the lower decks with an unknown past. Yeah okay. We know she’s going to try and kill everyone. Fast forward fifty minutes. Holy shit she’s trying to kill everyone. This is the biggest issue I have with this film. The actors who should have more screen time, don’t. While the characters who probably shouldn’t be liked, are.
Chris O’Dowd and David Oyelowo are the beacons of light. We vicariously live through O’Dowd as he channels the intoxicatingly work shy nuances of Roy Trenneman… trapped in space. All the while Oyelowo’s character is the link from the events of the Shepherd to the apocalypse of the first Cloverfield. Meanwhile, the heroine is not at all likeable and you are left wanting for a character sacrifice that never comes. At best, this Bad Robot production is reaching. A wonderfully talented cast wasted by the efforts of the dialogue in the script and by the directing.
Fast forward to the eventual stabilisation of the Shepherd and unseen descent back to earth. This leaves me reeling with frustration in the characters left alive. When they finally make it down to the planet I hope they are taken out by the behemoths that await them.
The Cloverfield Paradox is a weak successor to Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Where the hardcore fan sees questions being answered I see missed opportunities and holes in the storyline. Cloverfield, interesting as a franchise to some, plays out more as an outlet for J.J Abram’s “whatever the fuck I want” impulses. Playing out more like a Lost (the TV series) in Space, with a weak and implausible continuity.
Take me back to 10 Cloverfield Lane.