A Big Hit at the Superbowl but a Misfire for the Movie
by Nile Fortner
What made the first Cloverfield so fascinating was that they took something we’ve seen before like a giant monster in the city and they found a way to give it a new a new perspective. The 2008 Cloverfield film gave a new perspective that allowed audiences to see the death and the destruction of a monster in the city in the form of a found footage film. Even 2016’s surprise sequel and spin-off, 10 Cloverfield Lane, was a bold new take on a familiar story setup, and I actually loved this film, and would consider it an improvement over the first movie.
The trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox dropped at Superbowl 52 (Go Eagles). After the trailer was over, it said the movie was now showing on Netflix. After the Superbowl was over, I knew I was definitely going to check it out. I dusted the Dorito’s off my gut, almost spilled my beer, telling people at the Superbowl After-Party, “Move, I have to get home to see that new Cloverfield!”
Much like 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Cloverfield Paradox, originally titled God Particle, is
mostly set in one location, a space station in outer space. I actually like this approach, and with films like Gravity and Life, we’ve seen how space can give someone the jitters.
However, Earth is in some serious danger, and we need energy. Which is why in The Cloverfield Paradox, our scientists are sent aboard the Cloverfield station to harness an accelerator to help supply Earth. One day the station overloads with too much energy and they end up somewhere in deep space and the Earth has vanished. These scientists take all kinds of twists and turns in space where different universes have the ability to cross over and collide.
This movie has an awesome setup, the idea of stirring through different dimensions in space while adding horror seems like it’s going to be a great thrill ride. I kept wondering to myself, “Why is this on Netflix and not in theaters like the first two films?” Easy answer, because Netflix saw it as a good marketing tool and I’m sure the studio knows that this movie is a flat-out stinker.
**A Mess of a Movie**
Netflix has pumped out some really great original content; on the other hand, this is not one of them. For one the CGI looks lousy. In an age where movie goers have seen movies like Gravity and Interstellar, we can’t help but expect to see something great at the theater. Which is why I believe this movie was pushed out of theaters and onto your Netflix queue list. The film’s budget can’t cover the expenses of wanting to film a story that takes place in space with all these big special effects.
I can get past the cheap look of the film once the Earth vanishes, because it does add mystery, claustrophobia, and that’s when the story picks up. That is when we see some weird imagery, sci-fi horror, and one scene where worms just explode out of a man’s body. But after that, the movie becomes a crowded mess with storytelling.
**Questions Will Be Answered for Fans**
It’s a mess that just has way too many ideas going, and not just settling down a couple of good ones. One thing I really love about this Cloverfield universe is how the films have small hints that connect the movies together. This movie has so many ideas bouncing around in the brain, they take all that Cloverfield mystery and just tell you everything, so they can make more space for their already mumbled story and movie.
All that mystery and questions we had that make the last two Cloverfield movies so fun, they just tell you everything you need to know very early on in the movie. Which some people may like, but I wasn’t a fan of this because it was that mystery that kept us guessing, wanting to see more, and what separated this from other film franchises. It’s almost like they took a script that wasn’t related at all, and said to themselves, “Okay, this seems cool. Let’s see if we can jam in some Cloverfield references in there.” They are jamming so many things into the story where things don’t even make sense anymore.
Accordingly, I found this movie to be very unoriginal with both the story elements and
characters. I’m fine if a film is inspired by another film, on the other hand, The Cloverfield Paradox just kept reminding me of a poor man’s version to Aliens, The Thing, Event Horizon, and Life. This makes the film so predictable with story elements and what to expect.
10 Cloverfield Lane managed to create tension, mystery, and drama by not leaving its main setting. On the other hand, this film occasionally shows what’s happening on Earth. Unfortunately, what is happening on Earth is not that exciting, confusing at times, and it takes away from the story of these scientists.
One thing I will give props to is the cast. Daniel Bruhl (known for Captain America: Civil War), David Oyelowo (known for Selma) and the others all do a fine job and bring some credibility to the project. However, they are every single character we’ve seen in a horror and science fiction flick before. You have the leader, who isn’t showing his emotions until the last minute, you have the comedic relief, and the sneaky character.
The most underused character would definitely be Oyelowo, and the most well-rounded character would be Gugu Mbatha-Raw (known for Free State of Jones) as Ava. Only because we know she has a husband as she is concerned for her husband who is on Earth. Ava’s character reminded me very much of Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character from 10 Cloverfield Lane.
We have another story going on in this movie that adds to the mumbled storytelling of the movie. Ava’s husband is on Earth and we see his story. But his story is a completely different movie in itself. We see him on the phone but we don’t know who he is talking to, he saves a kid, and at one point they make it seem like he is about to die. The movie tries to make it clear by telling us we are seeing Ava’s husband in two different dimensions. But showing us both dimensions makes it confusing, unnecessary, and it feels forced into the story.
The film does have one neat Easter egg in the film. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it seems as if Howard Stambler, portrayed by John Goodman from 10 Cloverfield Lane may have a brother who is a conspiracy theorist. Also, towards the end, I couldn’t help but feel that the filmmakers forced it, and explain the creature from the first film.
Overall, The Cloverfield Paradox will mainly be remembered as an exciting Superbowl ad for a very bland movie. This entry into the Cloverfield franchise is definitely the weakest, and I can see why it was put on Netflix even though it was scheduled for a released date in theaters. I find the characters to be unoriginal, the CGI to be poor, the story to be confusing, and sadly the movie was just boring. It is forgettable, which is sad because the previous films really are loved by so many fans including myself. Take it from me, stick with the first two Cloverfield films!
I am giving The Cloverfield Paradox a 2 out of 5 Hairpieces