Review: The Cloverfield Paradox
The Cloverfield franchise became popular way back in 2008 after the film built up plenty of hype from an unnamed teaser trailer that showed the severed head of the Statue of Liberty being hurled across the streets of New York city. It was implied that something massive had to have thrown it, and thus the year of speculation as to what the movie was all about began. The marketing for the film was genius and helped make the film and following films more popular. The following film in the franchise, 10 Cloverfield Lane, was another thriller that seemingly came out of nowhere but delivered in thrills but also a great story. Both films shared some story elements allowing them to exist in the same universe. Cloverfield films have been entertaining and scary but ultimately successful. The idea of Cloverfield Paradox seemed like a hit, its spec script was picked up by JJ Abrams and Paramount Studios and they made it connect to the grand world of Cloverfield, similarly to what they originally did with 10 Cloverfield Lane. However, the film continued to get push back year after year until it was dropped by Paramount, and the distribution rights were picked up Netflix. To no surprise, The Cloverfield Paradox also had an impressive marketing tactic but however, it is not as entertaining or thrilling as it's predecessors.
The plot focuses on Ava Hamiltion (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a grieving mother who had recently lost her children and who frets over leaving her husband potentially for years to hop onto a space station that houses the Shepard particle accelerator. They are hoping that tests on the Shepard will help ease the energy crisis on Earth. However, conspiracy theorists fear that the Shepard will only bring disaster and open portals to other dimensions. After two years of failed test fires, the crew eventually is able to hold a stable beam but it overloads the station. Upon coming to, the crew then finds that they no longer can find Earth leading all of them to panic and give thought to what the conspiracy theorists once feared. As they work to get back home, the crew is met with constant anomalies that cause more panic amongst everyone.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw's performance in this film was the most memorable part as she commanded the screen in every scene she was in. She did a terrific job portraying the grief and inner turmoil of her character. The other characters in the film weren't developed as well, making it difficult to care for the well-being of them. However, the other actors in the film are all very good, but they just had nothing to work off of. Luckily, with the talent in front of the camera it helps keep everything rolling even if it is close to being a train wreck. In fact, this film is supposed to be a thriller but hardly works as a thriller. Some elements might as well be a bit more comedic. One of the hallmark scenes shown in the trailer would be that of amputated arm coming after the crew, it seems creepy in the trailer, but instead is played for laughs. It's surprising considering that the previous two films certainly delivered the thrills and tension but this one falls on it's face quite a bit. It manages to be more fun, then an actual thriller and ultimately just a muddled uneven film.
This film also manages to drastically change the narrative of previous Cloverfield films where it didn't have to. The film as a whole could have been better if it stuck to focusing on making a good film by it's own merits instead of trying to connect to previous Cloverfield movies. This flaw comes down to the screenwriters Oren Uziel and Doug Jeng. The dialogue is rather bland, outside of interactions between Ava and Mina Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki).The film's desperation to tie the story to the franchise is also a very weak point, namely in the final act and the result ends up being incredibly tactless. It's not all bad as some of the sci-fi elements work well but the horror and thriller elements are horrible. The mix mash of genres and storytelling leads to the downfall of this film.