Unlike Chris Mancini, I don’t have an inherent problem with there being a connected Cloverfield Universe. However, that’s not to say that The Cloverfield Paradox is a great film, either.
The Cloverfield Paradox release was delayed a couple times, and it was once titled The God Particle. You may or may not recall me talking about it in previous News columns here at CFN. The story is that Paramount made the film, execs apparently were not happy with it, then Netflix came a-calling and bought it from them for LOTS of money (estimates have it at about $50 million, which is excessive to say the least).
The Cloverfield Paradox starts a year or two prior to the original film, Cloverfield, but it ends during and slightly after it. It basically explains how that giant monster in Cloverfield showed up.
In this not-too-distant future, Earth is in the middle of a critical energy crisis. All of the nations of the world are at each others throats. War is imminent. So, a group of astronauts/scientists are sent up into orbit in a space station that holds a massive particle accelerator in hopes of it being able to generate enough power for the Earth indefinitely. Unfortunately, there are those that believe powering up such a device might tear open other dimensions with catastrophic results.
They turn on the accelerator and shit goes sideways.
I have my problems with this film, but they were mostly not that same as Chris’s problems with it. For instance, if you’re wondering how a particle accelerator can solve Earth’s energy problems, well, you’re not alone. Apparently we, the viewer, are just meant to accept this is possible without any explanation.
There are some elements of the film that clearly connect it to Cloverfield, however. I didn’t think it seemed tacked on as an afterthought. I feel like Mancini missed some of the nods throughout. I like those things. My problem is that this film made those connections too obvious. I was hoping for more mystery. I was hoping for a series of films that would culminate in a final film that would give us some kind of big reveal – telling us how they are connected. Perhaps that is where the Cloverfield Universe idea falters. With more forethought and planning, it would be a cool idea.
But alas, such is not the case. I didn’t mind the retooling of this script to make it a Cloverfield universe film, but this was too obvious.
The Cloverfield Paradox is kind of a low rent mix of various sci-fi films with a dash of The Thing (Carpenter’s version) tossed in. A really small dash, and nowhere near as powerful or effective. Weird things happen on the space station but none of them seem related in any way. Random.
The cast here is decent, though only the focal character, Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) gets any real development. Everyone else is pretty thin, so they don’t get much back story to work with. The cast includes David Oyelowo (Selma), Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds, The Alienist), John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd, Get Shorty-series), Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang (Geisha, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers), and Elizabeth Debicki. Lots of people you may have heard of but can’t remember from where.
One of the more curious things about this film is the use of humor. Chris O’Dowd gets most of that, and it’s out of place. O’Dowd gets some of the more interesting scenes of weirdness, and though they are visually striking, there is an element of humor that just doesn’t feel right, like it should be in a different film. One moment in particular I LOVE – it’s so subtle – but it’s so glaringly out of place here that I almost feel like it was cheated out of being in the right film. I’d be interested to see who noticed it.
The $25 million budget seems to be on screen. The station, the effects, the ensemble cast of talented, if not wasted, actors. Sadly, none of that money seems to have gone toward Oren Uziels script, which was changed by Doug Jung, who worked on the script for Star Trek Beyond for JJ Abrams. That should tell us something, right?
All in all, The Cloverfield Paradox fails by not having a consistent tone and unfolding without enough mystery. As usual, another pass at the script would probably done wonders. A generous two kittenhands here.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, waiting for Black Panther! Yay!