The Cloverfield Paradox – Movie Review

movie reviewWhat fascinating times we live in. Here we have a movie that was supposed to come out in theaters and suddenly falls into the hands of streaming service Netflix and they release the movie without any big advertisings whatsoever. What does that say about the quality of the film? Was there no confidence it could make some solid boxoffice cash? For the consumer it’s certainly not a bad thing. We got instant access to the film. A film that is the third installment in a series of films that are (kind of) connected. First we got Cloverfield in 2008. A ‘giant monster’ film, that left us with tons of questions. Then, silence for a while. I guess the makers thought about the direction they want to go with it. Cloverfield was quite a success and, despite its handheld point of view/shakycam filming style, a rather good film. Then in 2016 we got Cloverfield Lane. Definitely not what everyone expected. However, it was a very solid film with some very solid performances and direction. The trained eye also managed to find tons of references to the viral marketing campaign that connected both films. Rumors about a third movie spawned rather quickly. This third film now ended up being ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’.

The basic story behind it is pretty simple. In 2028, a multinational crew of scientists on a space station try to find a way to solve the energy crisis, that has hit Earth. On that orbiting station they have a particle-accelerator kind of device that, so they hope, will solve their global energy problems. After two years of tests and closing in on pure desperation, the crew decides to do another test. Of course that is where stuff is going wrong after looking promising at first. The crew finds out that Earth disappeared and soon discoveres that they switched realities. A lot of weird stuff happens along their way to find a solution to all their problems. So much for a quickie unspoiled story description. Kind of basic stuff, right? A story we’ve had before. At least when it comes to the outline of it.

This movie is a mixed bag. On the one hand we have a really solid quality production. Fantastic vfx and production design. You can see that the film was made for a bigger screen. The cast is also worth mentioning. Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd. Some familiar faces and names! And after seeing the film, it’s safe to say they did the best with what they had. The script itself is problematic and in parts very scifi/horror cliche. To its defense, it balances out these cliches, with some parts that really contain neat twists. But does the creativity in those twists save the film? To a degree yes. At least it never felt boring to me. There are a lot of situations where you question the decisions made by the crew though. However, in horror movies like that, you pretty much always have people make stupid decisions, to create some tension. So yes, the script could have been a lot smarter. Something that Cloverfield Lane did almost perfectly right, with a very solid and smart script behind it. The editing is also a little problematic. There are a couple of parts on Earth that do not connect very well. I at least felt a little irritated here and there. But one thing I absolutely don’t understand is why the chinese character in that film only speaks chinese. Everyone else speaks english! They subtitled her. In the established scientific environment we see in the film, surely as unrealistic as it can be. I guess the answer is ‘Asian markets’.

Camera and vfx work was really nice. Especially in the vfx work you can see that there was some money spent. The design of the station and how it presented itself felt unique. I really enjoyed the exterior shots of it. Bear McCreary did a good job with the score too. As explained earlier, the editing is a little weak… along with the script.

I guess, the success of the film surely depends on expectations. I didn’t have any. I wanted to be entertained and I think the film does a nice job with that. I wouldn’t even say that the film wants to be more than just entertaining. Try not to look for deeper meaning or some philosophical stuff. Most of the science they talk about makes no sense either, which makes me believe the film didn’t even try to be something more than an extended Outer Limits, Twilight Zone or Black Mirror episode. Which is fine to me. Is it a masterpiece? No it isn’t. Of the now three Cloverfield films it’s the weakest.

If you have Netflix and a thing for scifi… check it out on a rainy afternoon or lazy evening.


The Cloverfield Paradox on IMDb

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