Weekly Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

The crew aboard an international space station is working endlessly to solve the energy crisis on Earth using particle acceleration. After their most recent test, things go awry, and the crew finds themselves in an alternate universe with no Earth in sight.

The Cloverfield Paradox is a 2018 science fiction, horror film. It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror “San Junipero”), David Oyelowo (Selma), Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War), John Ortiz (Kong: Skull Island), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), Aksel Hennie (The Martian), and Zhang Ziyi (Memoirs of a Geisha, House of Flying Daggers). It also features roles played by Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and Roger Davies.

It’s release was kept pretty under wraps until a trailer aired for it during the 2018 Super Bowl. The film was released on Netflix as soon as the American football game ended. Since I didn’t watch that football game, I had no idea of the impending release.

I had the pleasure of going onto Netflix one day and seeing it pop up in my recommended section. As a pretty big fan of the original Cloverfield, I was very excited. I set out to watch it as soon as I could.

Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 1.52.19 AM

In general, I liked the idea behind The Cloverfield Paradox. I’ve been really into parallel universes and alternate realties lately, so the fact that this movie played into that realm of science fiction was really interesting to me. I liked a lot of the things that they tried to do with it.

With that being said, I felt there were a lot of issues with tone throughout the film. In many ways, it felt to me like it couldn’t decide on a tone, or a genre really. It flipped pretty consistently. I find Chris O’Dowd to be a really funny actor, and his lines in this were laugh out loud funny for me, but they also felt very out of place.

When the story really started to look into the alternate reality aspect, it got pretty ridiculous. This isn’t a bad thing in itself. It could have definitely been ridiculous and been great. The part with the detached arm was fantastic in my opinion. The problem was just that it didn’t blend well with the rest of the film.

I often found myself wondering if this was supposed to be a serious science fiction film or a horror comedy. I still can’t decide where it fits really.

Some of the dialogue was kind of clunky, but it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen. I thought the performances were pretty solid throughout. I absolutely loved seeing Zhang Ziyi on screen again. It’s been a while since I saw her in a film. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is also really phenomenal here. It’s a pretty great cast, and that makes this film watchable despite the problems I did have.

The biggest problem that I had with The Cloverfield Paradox was the extremely loose connection to Cloverfield. We’re dealing with parallel universes here. They could have gone back to loop it with the first one and really sell that connection, but instead it’s a very vague connection that just feels like a last minute editing decision.

I know I had a similar complaint when I wrote my review of 10 Cloverfield Lane. In that film, the ending that really connected to Cloverfield felt like a totally different movie. It felt like it was a reshoot after the decision to connect the films had been made. I got the same feeling from The Cloverfield Paradox as well.

It’s really unfortunate because I am such a fan of the original film. These loose connections are a real shame. From what I’ve seen, it’s become an ongoing joke now that any movie can be a Cloverfield movie. It’s a common thing for people to associate Cloverfield with movies that have a last minute monster thrown in. That doesn’t seem like something to strive for.

With The Cloverfield Paradox bringing in the alternate reality/parallel universe/rip in the space time continuum angle, they can literally go in any direction with the Cloverfield monsters. They can toss them anywhere with no explanation and we all just have to go with it because it genuinely doesn’t make any sense. Now, even in the Cloverfield universe itself, it doesn’t make any sense to anybody.

I can see the genius of this, but I hate it. If The Cloverfield Paradox had done a decent job of looping back to the end of Cloverfield, then I may have enjoyed it more. As it stands though, I’m just not happy with it. The connections to the original just keep getting more and more loose.

If I do consider them all connected, this is definitely the weakest link of them all. As I mentioned before, I did think that it had interesting ideas and a great cast, but it wasn’t done as well as I would have hoped for it to be.

Although I probably wouldn’t outright recommend this one, I will admit that I enjoyed it while I was watching it. It was only in the end that I grew disappointed. If you’re a fan of the science fiction aspect of parallel universes, then you may find this enjoyable too. I just would not go into it expecting anything Cloverfield related because it does not satisfy in that regard.

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