“The Cloverfield Paradox” proves the weakest of the franchise
The third installment presents a fun sci-fi thriller muddied by tonal issues and confusing continuity. | Photo Courtesy of twimg.com
Through a Super Bowl ad, Netflix surprised audiences with the spontaneous release of “The Cloverfield Paradox.” Using the same secretive and mysterious marketing strategy as previous “Cloverfield” films, the impending release of “The Cloverfield Paradox” excited fans with the possibility of explaining and connecting the “Cloverfield” universe. Although this film provides a fun sci-fi escape, the meaningless genre shifts, contrived narrative and frustrating continuity stifle the viewing experience.
SERVICEABLE SCI-FI ESCAPE
“The Cloverfield Paradox” suffers as a misguided step into inattentive storytelling. Separate from “Cloverfield,” it provides an enjoyable sci-fi film filled with beautiful visuals, tense action and solid acting.
Set in 2028, “The Cloverfield Paradox” follows seven astronauts aboard the Space Station Cloverfield, which houses a particle accelerator intent on solving the dying Earth’s energy crisis. Unfortunately, the particle accelerator malfunctions and the crew mysteriously loses sight of the Earth as calamity ensues. Suddenly, the supernatural occurs as members who are aboard the station inexplicably die or lose their limbs. Our protagonist Ava Hamilton, portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, must find her way back to Earth unaware of the dangers that roam because of the particle accelerator’s failure.
The visuals and special effects prove wonderful as the film attempts to rival the effects of other space films such as “Interstellar” or “Gravity.” The film successfully portrays hopelessness and peril through the depths of space, but its release on Netflix distracts from the full immersion one could experience in a movie theatre. The action also excites with an excellent combination of special effects and strong choreography.
Although the cast acts well, most of their talents are wasted on paper-thin, cliched characters. The station’s no-nonsense leader, Commander Kiel wastes the brilliance of David Oyelowo on a basic and sacrificial authority character. Meanwhile, Daniel Bruhl’s acting skills are squandered on the mildly antagonistic Schmidt who only works in his best interests. Mbatha-Raw, however, gives a strong, emotional performance as Hamilton who only desires reunification with her family. As Mbatha-Raw’s character survives through turmoil, she clearly becomes the strength of the station and the cast.
TONE SHIFTS AND CONFUSION
The film struggles with identity as it juggles between different tones and genres. Although a noble attempt, it does not fully capture space horror and it fails to establish true dread, unlike films such as “Alien” or “Sunshine.” The elements of horror, however, prove the most enjoyable part of the film but are stifled by poor attempts at deep drama and forced comedy. Although tone shifts can be refreshing, the tone shifts in this film feel abrupt and distracting. Had the film concentrated on the horror elements, it might have provided a more comprehensive and focused film.
“The Cloverfield Paradox” awkwardly fits in the “Cloverfield” universe. Marketed as the explanation of the monster universe, the film forces every “Cloverfield” reference and hardly adds to the universe’s lore. In addition, it also confuses the audience with sloppy explanations. As fans were let down by the misleading marketing, it should be noted that “Cloverfield” films are best viewed as anthology films––individual stories collected together and connected through a common theme.
“The Cloverfield Paradox” can provide a fun night for any sci-fi fan, but its careless story issues hinder its greatness as an installment into the ever expanding “Cloverfield” universe.