‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ is a Fascinating Disaster of a Film

img_7494The Patriots lost the Super Bowl, so God had to balance the positive vibes that put into universe by releasing this film the same day…

“The Cloverfield Paradox” is the third film of the “Cloverfield” franchise, and follows a group of astronauts aboard the ISS who must find a way back to earth after they accidentally open an alternate dimension. Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd and David Oyelowo star as Julius Onah directs and J.J. Abrams produces.

I had known this film existed for a while but I think the general public was in the dark. It had been in production under Paramount since 2012 and delayed numerous times, and after the budget grew to $45 million from a planned $5 million they got anxious and sold it to Netflix. Netflix then surprise dropped the trailer during the Super Bowl and announced it would be available for streaming that very night. And how obvious is it that this is a film with troubled production and lack of confidence from the studio? Ehhhh, I mean, kind of a lot.

The first “Cloverfield” is an alright movie, it’s one of those films that I appreciate what they were going for more than how they executed it. I really enjoyed “10 Cloverfield Lane” and John Goodman’s darkly twister performance, at least until that film becomes a “Cloverfield” movie in its final 15 minutes. It is clear that “Paradox” was never initially conceived as an entry to this series but that’s just one of many flaws.

Clearly the filmmakers just added some forced dialogue in post and reshot a few scenes to have this circle of a puzzle piece fit into the square hole of the “Cloverfield” universe and while it’s not wholly unwelcome, it’s just distracting more than interesting.

The editing here is baffling and the writing does it no favors. Right off the bat you can tell something is off about the film as we get an awkwardly paced introduction to our main(?) character before being suddenly thrust into the action.

This happens a lot throughout, where events will suddenly just…happen, and at one point I legit thought I must have head-bobbed and missed several minutes of important footage (I didn’t).

The whole plot of the film centers on Earth needing alternative energy, so the astronauts use a particle accelerator and accidentally get transported to a different reality (hate it when that happens). There are plenty of interesting possibilities to be had here and the film offers peaks at a few but never delivers, and the lack of any real risks being taken only hurts the viewing experience.

The actors try their hardest, but Daniel Brühl and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are the only ones with anything resembling arc or personalities. Chris O’Dowd offers the odd laugh but he feels misused, and David Oyelowo just looks bored.

“The Cloverfield Paradox” is an interesting concept with both its plot and Netflix’s marketing and distributing strategy but in the end it feels like a straight-to-DVD wannabe “Alien”/“Interstellar”/“The Martian”/“Gravity”/“Life”/“Prometheus” film. There are far better sci-fi horrors, trapped-in-space thrillers and Netflix films out there so even though watching this doesn’t require buying a ticket or using gas, I can’t see why it would be worth your time.

Critic’s Grade: C–


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