The Cloverfield Paradox – Movie Review – An underdeveloped misfire.

By far the biggest surprise coming from this year’s Super Bowl advertisments was the reveal of the latest instalment in the Cloverfield franchise. Previously known as God Particle, this film had a great release strategy. In the past couple weeks this film was heavily rumoured to be getting a Netflix release, but despite those rumours I don’t think anybody was prepared for a trailer to premiere today. Not only that, Netflix perfectly maximised on the hype this trailer and reveal generated, by smartly releasing the film immediately after the Super Bowl had finished. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to watch the film, so I watched it as soon as the game had ended.

The Cloverfield Paradox follows a group of Astronauts who must fight for survival after an experiment with a particle accelerator has unexpected results.

This film had me deeply engrossed from the get go, the pace was brisk and my intrigue was rising which each scene. I was truly enthralled and I was loving the experience I was having. As the main concept for the film began to unravel I started to realise the potential this story possessed, and I was genuinely excited to witness what direction the rest of the narrative would take. I was taken aback by how intense and unrelenting I found the film to be, there are genuine moments of horror which left me thrilled and very impressed. The film wears a number of Science Fiction and Horror influences on it’s sleeve, and for a long time I was feeling the vibe of the original Alien film. There was even a scene that was clearly influenced by Alien, but despite that I was still able to appreciate this sequence and how it was executed. Although I can already imagine some people labelling that scene as a direct rip off from Alien, and not being happy with it because of that.

This film features a very diverse cast of characters and I found a handful of the performances to be good. Gugu Mbatha-Raw portrays Ava and she is the character we learn the most about. We see glimpses of her spending time with her family and it’s made very clear how much her family means to her. The emotional aspect to Ava was handled well, it allowed Gugu to flex her acting talents as well as provide her character with something to motivate her actions later on in the film. If there’s a glaring weakness with the rest of the cast, it’s the fact that we learn next to nothing about the rest of the Astronauts aboard this spaceship. They all have distinct personalities and are easy to distinguish from one another, but that simply isn’t enough. Daniel Bruhl plays Schmidt an important member of the crew who handles many technical things aboard the spaceship. He has a rather on edge relationship with Volkov, another crew member who is portrayed by Aksel Hennie. David Oyelowo’s Kiel is a bit more of a level headed individual who seems entirely focused on the mission at hand. Lastly out of the cast members I’ll mention is Chris O’ Dowd’s Mundy, who is basically relegated to the position of comic relief, which pretty much always falls flat.

To summarise most of what I said above, I was very impressed with the film, the horror elements really worked and the intrigue surrounding what was occurring in the narrative had me hooked. Both of those things resulted in a very intense and engaging experience. That is until the half way point. Unfortunately the film couldn’t maintain the same level of quality it started with. It got to about the half way point and that’s where it began to stumble. The broader ideas surrounding the situation the Astronauts found themselves in, became less inventive as the narrative moved forward. It felt as if so many ideas were packed into the first half, to the point where there were none to effectively explore in the second half. The second half of the film, the third act in particular just isn’t nowhere near as interesting as the first half. It felt repetitive and dull. Once I realised what the main conflict at the heart of the film was, I stared to check out. I could understand what the writer was going for but it just failed at being even the slightest bit compelling in it’s execution.

The trailer promised some answers to “how it all began” but I struggled to identify which questions it actually answered in regards to the Cloverfield franchise, other than one thing connecting back to the original film. I feel like they missed the mark here and could’ve really threaded the two previous films into this one in a better way. Also the final moments of this film are simply awful, the very last shot made me sigh in disappointment at how lazy they were when it came closing out this story.

Overall The Cloverfield Paradox is extremely disappointing, mainly because it started off so strongly, then suddenly became so dull and uninteresting. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen a film that has started off so well, before completely losing it’s way beyond the half way point. It’s a great shame because the potential was there for something much greater.

⭐️⭐️

(2 Stars out of 5)

-T.Graham.

The Cloverfield Paradox – Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Davis Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz and Chris O’Dowd.

Directed by Julius Onah.

Now streaming on Netflix.

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