A major setback in the Cloverfield Universe.
RATING: ★ 1/2 (out of four stars)
The Cloverfield Universe has been intriguing, yet entertaining thus far. The original film, Cloverfield, hit theaters back in 2008 and received mixed reviews, but garnered much attention and hype during its promotional run. Eight years later, we got 10 Cloverfield Lane, a fantastic thriller announced a month before the movie’s release that subtlety tied in with Cloverfield. And now almost out of nowhere, Netflix released The Cloverfield Paradox right after the Super Bowl. Given the reception following the first two movies in the Cloverfield Universe, expectations were high for this third entry in the mystery, sci-fi horror franchise. Unfortunately, The Cloverfield Paradox is a misfire from producer JJ Abrams and just feels like a “lightning-in-a-bottle” attempt by Netflix to muster some attention by announcing via a television spot during the Super Bowl that it would be available to view right after the game.
The biggest issue with The Cloverfield Paradox is that the vision and story are very unclear and convoluted. The story follows a space station crew fighting to survive after a scientific experiment goes wrong, which puts the crew in a different dimension where they cannot locate earth or receive transmission from master control. The potential for an intense narrative with some creepy undertones was there within the first 15 minutes. However, any potential disappears minutes after the opening credits.
The Cloverfield Paradox would have functioned better if someone had decided between either tying in more effectively with the previous Cloverfield films or completely leaving out the Cloverfield Universe aspect altogether. What made 10 Cloverfield Lane so compelling was the suspense and how exactly it would tie in with the original Cloverfield. Unfortunately, The Cloverfield Paradox barely ties in with the previous films. And even when it does, it feels lazy and uninspired.
Overall, the cast does a fine job with the messy script they received. The movie tries too hard in terms of character development to the make audience invest in its character(s). Sure, all members of the space station come from different backgrounds and are there for different reasons, but you simply just don’t care for any of them, nor do you remember their names within minutes of finishing the movie.
Even with all of the incompetent aspects of The Cloverfield Paradox, the film still has a couple of enjoyable features. The score grabs your attention from the opening scene and keeps it throughout the entire run time. And though the CGI has some issues, the cinematography is pleasing to watch, as you can tell the actual intent of the production was theatrical release.
But after weeks of rumors about Paramount selling Paradox to Netflix and skipping a theatrical release, it’s easy to see why Paramount decided to cut their losses with this one instead of putting any more money into it. Hopefully, the next entry in the Cloverfield Universe will be more clear and concise. There is so much they can do with the story, and they should continue making the movies in secret and letting them be their own thing, as the concept and marketing for these movies work very well. Just next time, the writers need to come up with something better than this conventionally disposable sci-fi horror mess and simply slapping the name Cloverfield onto it.