Going to space to expand the Cloverfield universe. The Cloverfield Paradox – movie review (no-spoilers)

When I’ve written my top 15 most anticipated horror movies of 2018 list, I purposely didn’t list them from ‘expected best’ to ‘expected worst’ and vice versa: however, the third instalment in the Cloverfield ‘franchise’ would have been the one I couldn’t wait to watch the most.

As you might know, I’m not the biggest fan of found-footage flicks but I do consider Cloverfield (2008) to be amongst the best ones (or, at least, one of my favourite). Similarly, 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) is my third favourite horror film of 2016 and one of the best horror/thrillers – with shades of sci-fi – I’ve seen in a long time.

This ‘franchise’ is, in fact, one of the most appealing in modern horror/sci-fi cinema due to its diversity: contrarily to many other sagas, Cloverfield always finds new ways to expand upon its universe, all the while providing audiences with different stories that rely on multiple sub-genres.

Thus, I was exceedingly excited to watch The Cloverfield Paradox, which, even before getting release straight to Netflix, had based its marketing campaign on zero trailers, only a few leaks plot-wise, and a cryptic production process – the movie should have been out in 2017…

Cloverfield Paradox 1.jpegOnce again completely different from its predecessors, The Cloverfield Paradox revolves around a crew of scientists on a spaceship orbiting around Earth to test a device that might solve an acute energy crisis. After finally starting the device, it seems that something went horribly wrong: our planet has randomly disappeared! Stranded on the spaceship, the six crew members must find out whether they destroyed our planet or ‘just’ shifted themselves to another dimension.

As a sucker for sci-fi and horror flicks, this premise is pure cinematic orgasm-material! Solidified by an internationally assembled cast (David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Ziyi Zhang, Gugu Mbatha-Raw…), the beginning of The Cloverfield Paradox is chilling and intense as one might hope for. The set up itself, with its secluded and claustrophobic locations, helps establishing the right mood and a few sparse horror-like scenes boost the overall look and feel.

The acting is top-notch, proving once again that the Cloverfield movies are based on great performances, although the characters here aren’t really well-written. Unfortunately, what we learn about them during the film purely comes from exposition, with the protagonists telling one another (thus spoon-feeding us) what affects them and why a specific occurrence might lead them to do such and such.

Cloverfield Paradox 2Yet, to my surprise, The Cloverfield Paradox (which is heavily CGI-driven) utilises more than once cheap computer generated images, which become distracting and, here I say it, a bit silly. If you haven’t seen the severed arm scene, look out for that: it’s one of the dumbest and most misplaced sequences I’ve seen in a big-budget film in a long time!

The specific scene I just mentioned for me marks the moment when the movie starts going downhill. However, the real disappointment occurs when the mystery about the disappearance of our planet is revealed. That happens, more or less, towards the middle of the flick and this pivotal moment unfortunately turns an intense, unsettling sci-fi mystery into a middle-of-the-road, very generic thriller set in space.

Cloverfield Paradox feature.pngFurthermore, The Cloverfield Paradox suffers from an issue that is not easy to overlook for the fans of these movies. Given that sci-fi films require an unusual suspension of disbelief, this film messes up with the timeline of the ‘franchise’ – I keep using the inverted commas because this is not your average franchise. I can’t go too deep into this explanation without giving some important details away, but let’s just say that if this movie is set in the future and the original Cloverfield in present time, something doesn’t add up in the end.

Also, in terms of suspension of disbelief, the movie is afflicted with plot holes that truly make you question how the filmmakers didn’t notice them. For instance, how does a severed arm know what to write in order to warn the space crew about certain threats? I’ll go more into that in my Thoughts On review, which I’ll be writing in a couple of weeks…

In conclusion, The Cloverfield Paradox isn’t a bad movie but it surely less impactful and, in general, less well-made than both Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Furthermore, despite being fairly watchable and entertaining, the movie is too flawed to be considered good, at least according do my standards. I also feel some viewers might find the lack of answers to the previous instalments very disappointing, but to me that just adds value to the overall mystery of this very unconventional franchise. Nonetheless, I expected much more from this film and I’m as well upset by the final product.

The Cloverfield Paradox                 6/10

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imdbMy review is also available on IMDb – The Cloverfield Paradox