So yeah, that came out of (almost) nowhere and I love the fact it did. As someone who hates spoilers and enjoys knowing as little as possible about a movie before watching it, this concept of releasing a film the same day it’s trailer drops is of course not something that I or anyone else expects to become common practice, but for me, this is just absolutely an awesome occurence and right in line with the Cloverfield universe. As most of you will know by now, The trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox dropped during the Superbowl and revealed that it would actually be premiering ON Netflix immediately following the game, to which most people responded much like I did and thought it was an awesome idea. So as a big fan of the first two Cloverfield universe films, how did I feel about this latest installment? Well after watching it, I see why it ended up on Netflix instead of a traditional theatrical release.
The Cloverfield Paradox set up goes something like this “In the near future, a group of international astronauts on a space station are working to solve a massive energy crisis on Earth. The experimental technology aboard the station has an unexpected result, leaving the team isolated and fighting for their survival.” If that sounds familiar to an extent it’s because it is the basis for a dozen or so sci fi movies set in space on space stations. It’s tried and true and it works…well it works when it brings something interesting to the table and for me sadly, The Cloverfield Paradox did not do enough of that to really enjoy it.
The trailer promised it would explain WHY the events of the first film happened, which is something I didn’t NEED to know, but hey since they are telling me thats what I will get, I expected to see something much more detailed and tied much more closely to the events of the first or even second films in the franchise. However, what I got instead was a loose and flimsy throwaway line from a talking head on a screen about how this experiment could effect different dimensions and even different time periods yet unfortunately none of what is explained or presented is ever really focused on and the film just becomes one predictable and random set piece after another with no rhyme or reason to what is happening.
The film is broken up into two parrallel stories, one taking place on the ship and one taking place on earth following one of the crew members husband, the earth one is the one I found much more interesting, but that may just be because the stuff on the ship seems so redundant, especially coming on the heels of a year where we had the films Life (a brutally fun suprise of a space movie) and Alien Covenant (ugh) which both had far more interesting things going on on their ships that caused the trouble for the crew. In this film, well as I said before things don’t really make any sense and the payoffs behind each instance of trouble are for the most part not great. Which unfortunately is how I felt about the film. At one point I basically checked out while still hoping the final payoff would be worth the meandering story which to me seemed like something that could have been told in a half hour, because all that happens is things break on the ship, people go to fix it, they die, rinse, repeat. The link to Cloverfield felt tepid at best and like the last minute additions to the script that they probably were. This stuff is not terrible and the cast does it’s best to sell everything but the lack of tension really hurts the impact any of this stuff has.
On the plus side the film’s cast is superb, particularly the lead actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw who is the heart and soul of the film (when it has time for that) and they all do the best here with what they are given, and it is on a visual and technical level a very well made film. But these things just unfortunately add to the disappointment of it all as the elements were all there for this to be another great entry into an already great series. I honestly just felt a bit bored by it, it felt like a movie we have seen time and time again and done better before.
The big hook for this is supposed to be it’s connection to the cloverfield universe, but keeping in line with what this universe is supposed to be anyway, the connection is thin at best, with stuff thrown in that while welcome and cool ultimately feels like fan service and here is the biggest problem with the film for me, take away the Cloverfield name and connections and you still have an average but slick looking sci fi film that ultimately would still be too predictable and non-consequential to truly deliver a memorable experience. So for me after thinking about it, either just be your own film and stay away from the Cloverfield stuff altogether OR REALLY get into the Cloverfield world and REALLY delve deep into the events of the first film if thats what you are promising in the trailer. I don’t want to sound like I hate this movie because it was certainly a serviceable sci fi film, but sadly it turned out to be a sci fi film that I have no desire to watch again, which is the exact opposite of how I felt with the previous two films. So should you watch it? yeah I think so, even as I type this I feel I am being overtly harsh on it and you may very well enjoy it more than I did, but unfortunately for me it didn’t deliver anything that I had really hoped for.