The Cloverfield Paradox: Film Review

If you were watch­ing Su­per Bowl LII, you prob­a­bly watched a quick TV spot from Net­flix for the next film in the un­ex­pected “Clover­field” fran­chise. “The Clover­field Para­dox” was avail­able for stream­ing on Net­flix right af­ter the game. I can say that’s prob­a­bly the best mar­ket­ing I’ve ever seen from J.J. Abram’s pro­duc­tion com­pany Bad Ro­bot (known for be­ing rather se­cre­tive). But can all this hype that came out of nowhere make “The Clover­field Para­dox” worth watch­ing?

On a space sta­tion, called “The Clover­field,” or­bit­ing a planet on the brink of war, a group of sci­en­tists tests a de­vice to solve an en­ergy cri­sis and end up face-to-face with a dark al­ter­nate re­al­ity.

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Af­ter 10 years, I still con­sider 2008’s “Clover­field” to be the best found-footage movie of all-time, tak­ing a new form in the mon­ster genre and giv­ing it a shaky but ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Even its 2016 claus­tro­pho­bic se­quel “10 Clover­field Lane” is fairly un­der­rated. And while it’s was­n’t ex­actly a di­rect se­quel to the pre­de­ces­sor, it’s still a great blood- rel­a­tive to the orig­i­nal.

But we were all won­der­ing what was tak­ing this third film so long to come out. Para­mount pushed it back many times,; it was sup­posed to come out this month, and then it pushed to April. So, when it was re­vealed that Net­flix would be stream­ing the film, I got ner­vous. But even with some great mar­ket­ing be­hind it, “The Clover­field Para­dox” was a mas­sive let­down for fans of the pre­vi­ous two in­stall­ments.

For starters, part of what makes the “Clover­field” fran­chise unique is that each movie is dif­fer­ent from one an­other in terms of genre. But that’s what re­ally made “The Clover­field Para­dox” con­fus­ing. Hav­ing the story take place on a space sta­tion has been done many times be­fore, but maybe the tie-ins to the other two might help. The film tries to give us an­swers to how cer­tain things came to be, but it does­n’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­plain it well. Since the film takes place in space, it’s hard to tell when this ac­tu­ally takes place in this time­line. This is fur­ther com­pli­cated by the oc­ca­sional time para­dox.

Much of the prob­lem is sim­ply that Oren Uziel (“22 Jump Street”) and Doug Juan’s (“Star Trek Be­yond”) script just was­n’t smart, at any point. The pre­vi­ous films con­nected with each other, but it hon­estly does­n’t work well here. It felt like a cross be­tween “Life” and a bad episode of “Black Mir­ror”. For in­stance, I could­n’t care less about Raw’s hus­band back on Earth pro­tect­ing this kid.

The en­sem­ble here has some well-known ac­tors that I en­joy, such as Gugu- Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, Eliz­a­beth De­bicki and Chris O’­Dowd. The prob­lem with this is the fact that they’re wasted with the story. Mbatha-Raw as com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist Ava Hamil­ton is per­haps the only char­ac­ter I cared, about since she’s the most de­vel­oped. Every­body else was point­less.

This is di­rec­tor Julius On­ah’s first big fea­ture film de­but. We should all hope he gets bet­ter in the fu­ture, be­cause this is­n’t the right step for­ward for him as a new­comer. The edit­ing is also one of the biggest com­pli­ca­tions, as cer­tain scenes abruptly change with­out warn­ing.

The score, by Bear Mc­Creary, who also did the mu­sic for “10 Clover­field Lane,” is­n’t that bad, but it does be­come over­bear­ing dur­ing a few scenes.

For most of the run­time, I got so bored with what was hap­pen­ing that I was check­ing my emails just wait­ing for some­thing ex­cit­ing to hap­pen. It wants you to con­stantly think about what it all means in the end, but it ends up just be­ing all over the place, with shoe­horned el­e­ments of the other films. It also wins the award of most forced end­ing I’ve seen in a long time.

Dis­ap­pointed is the right word to fully de­scribe “The Clover­field Para­dox”. I can’t say I en­joyed watch­ing this as there were so many dumb mo­ments. It was try­ing to be every other sci-fi movie set in space. It’s not the worst movie to come from Net­flix (I’ve seen “Bright”), but it’s not to say it’s en­ter­tain­ing ei­ther. If this still kept its April re­lease date in the­aters, it prob­a­bly would­n’t do well at the box of­fice ei­ther way. But, there’s a fourth in­stall­ment, “Over­lord,” com­ing out later this year.  But as a long­time “Clover­field” fan, “The Clover­field Para­dox” was­n’t worth the two hours I spent stream­ing it.

The Clover­field Para­dox” is the weak­est film in the “Clover­field” uni­verse not just be­cause of how dull it was, but also due to a ter­ri­ble script and messy sto­ry­telling. Grade: C-

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