Everything was great, right up until the point when we started watching it.
Three weeks ago and we weren’t even sure if Cloverfield 3, then titled God Particle, was a real movie that was actually still happening. Two weeks ago and we heard Paramount sold the property to Netflix, and that it was likely going to drop sometime in the spring. Two days ago they played a Super Bowl ad for the newly titled The Cloverfield Paradox and announced that the movie would be dropping as soon as the game is over.
And here we are.
For starters, this marketing strategy is great. Yes, it causes an all-out panic for all of us critics over on the East Coast who are staying up until 2 a.m. on a Sunday night trying to review this thing, but the fact that we suddenly have a new Cloverfield movie to talk about is exciting nonetheless. It’s also somewhat mind-blowing to think about what this could mean for the future — could more big name properties like this drop out of nowhere? Could we be sitting on our couch in a couple years, only to have Disney announce that there’s suddenly a new Star Wars movie available on their service that we can watch right now?
Only time will tell. Hopefully, if that’s what does end up happening, the actual quality of the films will be better than that of The Cloverfield Paradox. While the marketing strategy is incredible, the movie itself is something of a letdown.
The first Cloverfield movie, directed by Matt Reeves and produced by J.J. Abrams, hit theaters in 2008. Eight years later and 10 Cloverfield Lane, which most people agree is even better than the first, surprisingly dropped. Despite sharing the Cloverfield title and seemingly taking place within the same universe, the storylines themselves shared virtually nothing in common as Cloverfield is now more commonly seen as an anthology series.
The Cloverfield Paradox keeps that anthology trend going. This time, we’re headed off to space.
A team of astronauts — each of them being from a different country, so that their homelands can all take equal credit in any discoveries they might find — are sent to an international space station that’s orbiting Earth. Their mission is to find a new energy source — one that can potentially be used across the entire planet, as resources back home are starting to become more and more scarce.
However, while trying to solve the crisis, things start to go wrong. After a series of mishaps (we’re keeping it vague for spoilers sake. The movie has only been out for a day and a half, after all), the crew finds themselves a long, long ways for home — with seemingly no way to get back.
They must all then work together to figure out what went wrong and how they can solve the problem — a problem that involves multiple timelines and dimensions, as the word “Paradox” suggests, along with a dismembered sentient limb.
The basic premise of the movie sounds a lot more exciting that The Cloverfield Paradox actually is. While the movie boasts a few good ideas and is composed of a talented cast that includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd and a few others, the movie fails on nearly ever level.
The problem with The Cloverfield Paradox is that, at its heart, there’s nothing that makes this feel like a Cloverfield movie. This is a boring, generic sci-fi film that you’ve seen done before and, more important, done far better in things like Alien, Event Horizon or Life. There’s little drama, emotional connectivity to any of the characters or tension to be had, and the movie goes on for far too long.
There’s also a great deal of it that simply doesn’t make sense. Without going into spoilers, there are plot-holes and things left unanswered from start to finish, as the movie can’t even follow the rules that it set up for itself. Like, seriously, what was up with that arm??
Perhaps the reason the filmmakers and director Julius Onah thought to keep things so ambiguous was so they could deepen the mystery of the Cloverfield universe. And, indeed, the film does create a lot of possibilities for what that could mean — the problem is it doesn’t address those possibilities.
The Cloverfield Paradox seemingly has no interest in being a Cloverfield movie or answering any of the questions that you have. The only evidence that this is a Cloverfield movie at all comes from a series of scenes involving Roger Davies’ character — all of which have nothing to do with what’s going on in the space station. Instead, it settles for being this run-of-the-mill and forgettable flick without anything new to offer.
Now, it seems clear that the reason Netflix dropped this on us all of the sudden wasn’t to build up the hype but to hide any negative reviews by having everyone watch it at the same time. It’s an incredible disappointment considering the quality of the first two Cloverfield movies (if you read the article on the Super Bowl spot, you know how excited I was for this one), and has us wondering if we even want to see more out of this universe.
Watch the short trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox here and let us know, in the comments below, did you watch The Cloverfield Paradox? What did you think? What’s your favorite Cloverfield movie thus far?
Sweet, sweet disappointment: 'The Cloverfield Paradox' review3