REVIEW: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of The Cloverfield Paradox — Directed by Julius Onah.

There is nothing quite like Cloverfield. The production and release of Matt Reeves’ found footage monster movie was kept under wraps for a long time. The existence of Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane — the spiritual sequel — was only revealed one or two months before it was set to be released in theaters. And, now, The Cloverfield Paradox is released on Netflix just a few hours after the first trailer for it was released during Super Bowl LII. There is nothing quite like Cloverfield, and yet there are so many things like the immensely disappointing The Cloverfield Paradox.

Julius Onah’s The Cloverfield Paradox, which has previously been referred to as both Cloverfield Station and God Particle, is a science-fiction film that functions as a prequel to the original Matt Reeves film. It follows the crew of the Cloverfield space station, which is attempting to solve a global energy crisis by experimenting with a particle accelerator. Although the crew was unsuccessful in the first 694 days in space, they manage to eventually get the particle accelerator to work. However, when system suddenly overloads the crew of the space station is shocked to find out that Earth is nowhere to be found. They are, to put it frankly, lost in space.

The Cloverfield Paradox really is quite something. As people online have already pointed out, this film is a gamechanger. Both in terms of how major franchises can be released to the public and in terms of getting diverse and different voices to be heard in the making of these types of films. It is really nice to see a super talented diverse cast of actors here, and it is also nice to see up-and-coming filmmakers get to work with a blockbuster-franchise.

And, to be honest with you, for the longest time I really thought Netflix might’ve acquired a really strong film from Paramount Pictures. After all, Dan Mindel served as the cinematographer on the picture and composer Bear McCreary had even returned to compose the score for his second Cloverfield-film.

Unfortunately, it is easy to see why Paramount Pictures were willing to let this film go — The Cloverfield Paradox is just a really disappointing mess of a movie that clashes with and damages the reputation that J. J. Abrams’ monster franchise had built for itself. This film makes Netflix look like nothing more than the dumping ground that some naysayers called it in the past, before Mudbound, Okja, First They Killed My Father, and The Meyerowitz Stories changed the streaming service’s reputation.

Although it may be nice to see how the opening title sequence is styled like 10 Cloverfield Lane was, that is possibly the only satisfying connection this film makes to the other films — except for maybe the last shot of the film, which I refuse to spoil. You see, what I kept on thinking as I was watching the film was that you could just see how this film was stitched together to make it function as a Cloverfield-prequel. It seems like a slightly improvised, rough patchwork.

Poor Alien imitations are a dime a dozen, and while I did, admittedly, really enjoy one of those imitations just last year — Daniel Espinosa’s LIFEThe Cloverfield Paradox is, to me, just too much of a mess to truly appreciate. It is basically Paul W. S. Anderson’s Event Horizon meets Ridley Scott’s Alien with a pinch of Jon Amiel’s The Core thrown in there, which might’ve actually really worked if it weren’t for the fact that it had to somehow tie into the overall Cloverfield ‘universe.’

The disappointing final product includes a completely wasted cast, a cliché-ridden science-fiction story filled with expository dialogue and iffy visual effects, and it is also just exhausting in its pacing. Everything feels so stitched together and so rushed that few scenes get to actually breathe, and most of the set-up is left to the imagination. The Cloverfield Paradox is a complete and utter mess.

The Cloverfield Paradox is also just tonally inconsistent. There is a scene with an arm — that’s all I’ll say about it, but you’ll definitely know it when you see it — that the filmmakers didn’t know whether to make funny or scary. The end result is a bit of both, but it is mostly funny thanks to Chris O’Dowd, whose comedic delivery is easily the best thing about this movie.

I ended up not really caring at one point, which is not something I ever expected to have happen after I loved both Reeves’ Cloverfield and Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane. In the end, the idea of The Cloverfield Paradox is way more interesting, than anything this movie throws out there. The Cloverfield Paradox is a quite unfortunate prequel that somehow tarnishes the overall franchise. It is the series’ lowpoint, obviously. But it may also be the film that manages to ruin the good name that Cloverfield had made for itself.

4.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen

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