MOVIE REVIEW – ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’

It's not the best film in the Cloverfield franchise, but it's still a good little B-movie.

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Julius Onah
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dan Mindel
WRITER: Oren Uziel
MUSIC: Bear McCreary

This has to be a first for me. On the same day that a trailer is released for “The Cloverfield Paradox”, the movie is then released on Netflix immediately after the Super Bowl. This is true to how producer J.J. Abrams likes to promote these films. For those who somehow don’t know, “The Cloverfield Paradox” is the third film in a series of films that are loosely connected.

In 2008, the clever monster film “Cloverfield” was released. It impressed both film critics and audiences with its mysterious marketing campaign and the fact that it was ultra secretive with the monster featured in the movie. For years, a sequel was talked about but what people didn’t know is that a follow-up had already been shot and in January 2016, “10 Cloverfield Lane” was announced and it was released only two months later on March 11, 2016.

This time, though, the movie was a confined psychological thriller featuring stellar performances from its three leads. After that film’s surprise success, “God Particle” was announced and it was already heavily rumored to be the third installment in the Cloverfield franchise. After delays in the production and a budget that ballooned from $5 million to $40 million, Paramount Pictures decided that it was no longer a viable option to release it traditionally through the theaters.

Thankfully, Netflix has not only stepped in to release the film, they have followed Abrams’ knack for quick release marketing and now it is viewable for any Netflix subscribers. The question that remains now is whether or not this is a worthy installment for the series. The truth is that this movie is nowhere near as good as “10 Cloverfield Lane” nor would I say that it is necessarily as good as “Cloverfield”.

The first movie was a straight-up monster movie and the second film was a thriller. “Paradox” is a sci-fi horror film that definitely has more of a direct connection to the first film, though the connections are still somewhat vague and only loosely connected. The setting for the film is the space station called Cloverfield.

The astronauts onboard are trying to perfect a giant collider in order to create an infinite energy supply for an Earth that is on the bring of war and losing resources fast. Eventually, the astronauts get the collider to operate, but it quickly overloads and after everything is brought back under control, they learn that the Earth is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, something sinister has happened on Earth as we follow Michael (Roger Davies), the husband of Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), one of the astronauts on the Cloverfield station.

The movie starts off strong enough as the astronauts soon realize that they have not only travelled through space but also to another dimension. Then, strange things begin to happen on the ship as this new dimension starts to tear them and the space station apart. Sadly, though, the movie doesn’t maintains this interesting aspect of the movie beyond its first two acts. The third act of the movie quickly devolves into a more generic horror film with a rather lackluster antagonist.

Despite the fall in the third act, though, the movie was still entertaining for the most part. I even liked most of the characters despite the lack of character development for everyone besides Ava. It was also cooler that this film had a deeper connection to the original film while I also applaud the effort to make each film in this series a different genre altogether.

While “Paradox” is most definitely flawed and it will definitely have its detractors, I still recommend the film for the first two stronger acts and its take on alternate dimensions. Before I go, I’ll also mention that a fourth film in the franchise has already been shot and it is scheduled to be released in October. Right now, it is called “Overlord”, but I have a feeling that it will have a new title involving the word “Cloverfield” before it is all said and done.

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