The Cloverfield movie series is such an interesting blank check franchise because there’s no shortage of good ideas by making this an anthology series as it gives more freedom for whatever stories that the filmmakers want to tell. I would have been fine if this was one movie about a monster attacking a city but they decided to expand on this and made a great followup in 10 Cloverfield Lane.
So, understandably, there was lots of excitement from fans of the previous two movies, myself included, and the next movie in the series sounded good. But, I should’ve known this was too good to be true when Netflix announced during the Super Bowl that it was going to be available right after the game on their service. Plus, the fact that Paramount didn’t want to release this in the theaters should’ve been another sign of the movie’s quality and the studio’s confidence in it. But the first two movies were so strong and J.J. Abrams was a producer on it and he usually makes good stuff so this was impossible to fail. But as we know with any blank check, some checks clear and some check bounce, baby. And baby, this check bounced so hard, it might as well have been the movie equivalent of a slinky. Now after seeing it, I’m not shocked that Mr. Paramount was hesitating putting this in front of a moviegoer’s eyes. If this wasn’t connected to the Cloverfield universe, this wouldn’t even get a click on the thumbnail on Netflix from me to read the further synopsis rather than the snappier, shorter one that you get on the regular main menu because I just can tell it’s just another generic sci-fi movie and I don’t need to know more. If you take some stuff out though, there’s a good movie in there.
I like Gugu Mbatha Raw’s arc even if her character isn’t given enough meat to chew on. But as close to my mother as I am, I could sympathize with what she was going through and I could understand her motivations later in the story as far as her backstory goes. I can’t even say that I was mad or frustrated by what she did because on a personal level, I can see where she coming from regardless of how she was led into some of her choices. But it’s because of Raw’s talent as an actress that she manages to rise above the material even if she’s can’t totally save it because unfortunately, the rest of the movie is also there. It turns out that she’s invited to join this mission in space trying to assist in the world’s energy crisis. In turn, she and the rest of her team accidentally end up in an alternate universe. It sounds kinda cool if it didn’t sound like any other sci-fi movies or tv show that existed. Plots don’t always have to be original but the filmmakers don’t even try to do anything different to make it stand out in any way. What also hinders it the most is that it doesn’t so much make sense as much as they just wrote what sounded like the coolest idea to put in this movie but forgot to see how that would fit with the connective tissue of the rest of the movie. For example, there’s a scene where a character loses his arm and it’s found in another place and is still fully functioning. This never gets explained or justified as to why it’s happened because it doesn’t fit the tone of the movie. But then again, I’m not entirely sure about the tone because it’s so all over the place. You’re just supposed to believe that crazy things just happen on this ship because they just happen and that alone should creep me out but it doesn’t and I mostly felt indifference to everything that was going on. Most of it feels as if the filmmakers just put the scripts of both Alien and Event Horizon with some Goya seasoning in a blender and thought that would be good enough to make a passable movie.
There’s a crew of people who are also joining in the mission that are all one dimensional. You have the comic relief that really doesn’t work which is a shame because Chris O’Dowd is usually really good. Daniel Bruhl and Zhang Ziyi are a couple that doesn’t speak the same language but yet they understand each other. David Oyelowo is just a guy that happens to be there. He’s supposed to be the one that keeps everything together and is the most on top of things. He’s good. There’s a Russian guy who’s just there to be a pain in the ass and Russian. John Ortiz is just there to be there. Seriously, my imaginary friend version of Brad from Home Improvement would’ve done better with this part. Elizabeth Debicki’s character the most interesting aside from Raw because she has a presence to lends itself to being mysterious in an interesting way thanks to her physical appearance even though it’s so obvious that it’s not mysterious thanks to the on the nose musical score. She sells it well despite that.
My main problem with this movie is that the problem is that it’s too derivative. I can’t even be upset at it because it’s so safe in how derivative it is that it can’t make an attempt to get you riled up or even impressed with how low they’re willing to set the bar. Most of the characters are uninteresting. The plot is all over the place as things just happen just to happen for the convenience of a just okay visual effect or for some quick jump scares. Also, the ending was really lame and seemingly tacked on. I understand why that thing happens but it doesn’t make it any less stupid. As a whole, the movie just comes off middle of the road at best and uninspired at worst.