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« Amy Adams Channels Warhol's Portraits | Main | Dennis Quaid Still Has "The Right Stuff" »
Wednesday
Feb072018

Review: The Cloverfield Paradox 

By Spencer Coile 

Like the first two Cloverfield films, The Cloverfield Paradox premiered with plenty of hype surrounding it. After several delays, it was rumored to be picked up by Netflix which proved true when during Super Bowl LII, Netflix announced the arrival of The Cloverfield Paradox immediately following the game. 

Fans of the series were in a tizzy, counting down the hours before they could enjoy the latest entry. The marketing push for Paradox was as ambiguous and mysterious as the first two films which is a good thing. Like Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), it is best to go into The Cloverfield Paradox knowing little about the plot...

Without offering anything specific, it follows a group of astronauts who are commissioned to to test a particle accelerator aboard the Cloverfield Station in order to save the global energy crisis that is taking place on earth. Naturally, this is easier said than done, and the space crew have to grapple with an alternate dimension. 

Cloverfield worked due to a quick pace and the questions it presented. 10 Cloverfield Lane was a stage-like, intimate follow-up that focused specifically on three characters (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.). Unfortunately, The Cloverfield Paradox does not offer the same rush as either of them but it does boast a stellar cast, including Chris O'Dowd, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Elizabeth Debicki, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, and Zhang Ziyi.

Each actor could have contributed something fascinating but the plot services the Cloverfield mythology over anything, sidelining the characters into mere types. They seem to be onboard the ship only for us to watch them perish -- and they don't even perish in unique or clever ways. 

At the center of the film is the issue of the "paradox" itself. Again, it is best to know very little about it going into your movie-watching experience, because it does attempt to ask fascinating questions about morality and what it means to be human. But at a certain point in The Cloverfield Paradox, it seems as though many of these questions are never going to be answered. This withholding strategy worked well for the first two Cloverfields, but Paradox does not offer their visceral, heart-pounding experiences. Instead, the plot is flimsy including a weak opening scene to help give exposition and a final shot that will have many fans saying, "Finally!"

Sadly, the final scene is too little too late. What we are left with is a knock-off version of Alien -- one with less compelling characters and a villain that doesn't make much sense. This makes The Cloverfield Paradox an especially frustrating viewing experience. There is so much potential bubbling -- setting the film in a new space setting provided new possibilities, but rather than playing with expectations (as the first two films did), Paradox feels like another generic space flick. 

What feels especially heartbreaking about The Cloverfield Paradox is that, Netflix actually promoted this one. After the company's recent annoucenment that it would be releasing 80 films in 2018 (more than one film a week!), it seems clear that their originals will largely get lost in the shuffle. The hyped-up release of The Cloverfield Paradox was the perfect opportunity to alter this paradigm. But because Paradox was so lackluster, we have to wonder what the hype was for? It's a question that may never have answered, but perhaps that was the paradox all along. 

Grade: D

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Reader Comments (5)

Imagine this cast in a film that's actually good.

February 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBushwick

#TeamGiveZhangZiyiAGoodLeadRoleDammit

February 7, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCal

This movie was wildly confusing, especially considering how little actually happens. This would be a mild spoiler if it weren't so incomprehensible: why did the arm know things?

February 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

I have never liked this series- the first movie was shot in that annoying found footage style and you never got a goo look at the monster- the second film was much better until the twist ending

February 8, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

It's the JJ Abrams and friends style... little answers (and many, making no sense) to too many questions, hoping the fans will promote the film discussing in the web.

A pity, this could have been to sci-fi, what Cabin in the Woods was to horror. But the call backs to so many sci-fi classics and cult classics (Alien,Event Horizont, Sunshine...) were TOO OBVIOUS so it became something closer to a remix of fan favorites with little sense all together. I wasn't bored but I certainly do not think it is a good film.

February 9, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

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