The Cloverfield Paradox Review: Trapped Between Ambition and Confusion

The name Cloverfield is an interesting one in the movie world. The found footage monster film was a secret project developed by JJ Abrams, and directed by Matt Reeves, that debuted on January 2008; and it became a success both financially and critically. This was no surprise as the movie, while it has not aged well in certain areas, was certainly originally in its concept. While it looked to be a one hit wonder,this would not be last time moviegoers would see Cloverfield as in 2016 the once solo film became a franchise with the release of 10 Cloverfield Lane. 10 Cloverfield Lane signified that the franchise would taking a unique route as it work as an anthology featuring a variety of different (not to mention bizarre) stories.The anthology trend continues with the third installment in the franchise: The Cloverfield Paradox. Directed by Julius Onach the newest film in the Cloverfield franchise came from the spec script by Oren Uziel and was originally titled “God Particle”. Keeping true to the series’ secretive marketing, the movie debuted on Netflix immediately after its preview premiered during the Super Bowl. I had the opportunity to watch this unique release and when it was all said and done The Cloverfield Paradox was no doubt the an ambitious entry in the series, but far from the strongest.

The film centers on the crew of the Cloverfield Station who are tasked to find an alternative energy source in order to save Earth. The crew’s work leads them to build a particle accelerator but the results are catastrophic as the machine leads the station to disappear and puts the crew in a interdimensional dilemma. There is no doubt in my mind the plot to The Cloverfield Paradox had a lot of good ideas to it. The concepts that the movie played with were interesting and it could have made it into a stellar sci-fi tale. However the problem is how the movie goes about presenting its story. Although it has good ideas the story lacks a firm center that connects everything together. Furthermore the plot had a nasty habit of telling but not showing its conflict which was evident in the movie’s subplot-which did next to nothing to emphasize on the crisis. Along with this issue was the story’s use of conveniences which lead to a number of plot holes within the fabrics of this tale. The plot does have a good sense of tension and things do become more intriguing as it progresses, but it is not enough to save the story as this sci-fi tale is looped between the realms of mystery and utter confusion.

The cast to The Cloverfield Paradox was definitely a solid one as each member certainly did their best with the material that they had. However where this cast falters is within the characters themselves. The crew of the Cloverfield Station were a inconsistent group that jumped from being tolerable and unlikable from scene to scene, and the result was a ensemble that was hard to care about. The character Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) was the most developed among the bunch but her lacked the dimensions did not help this crewman at being a captivating lead; although Mbatha-Raw did provide a solid performance. The only characters that felt rounded was Mundy (Chris O’Dowd) and Mina (Elizabeth Debecki) but even they suffered from minimal progression. The cast feature other characters like Ava’s husband Michael (Roger Davies) but he too had little to offer this ensemble. The cast had some surprises to it such as an appearance of Donal Logue, characters connected to previous films and involvement from actors such as Simon Pegg. However despite all of that ,the cast of The Cloverfield Paradox was not an out of this world ensemble rather one that simply lacked character.

In regards to technical elements The Cloverfield Paradox was fairly sound in areas such as visual effects and cinematography. The movie’s effects were keen in their delivery as some of the film’s tricks were effective and executed in a unique fashion. The cinematography from Dan Mindel was efficient as it gave a sci-fi vibe to the movie’s look; although some of the movie’s colors and shots were a bit too reminiscent to Mindel’s previous work. While The Cloverfield Paradox is a sci-fi film it also dwells in the realm of horror. and it certainly had a tone that resembles the likes of Alien and Event Horizon. However while it did have the atmosphere the movie lacks the moments and delivery to truly come off as scary. Rounding things out for the film was the score by Bear McCreary. The music takes its time to build up but when it gets going the score is vibrant and features a number of compositions that worked to the film’s concept.

The Cloverfield Paradox was indeed a paradox. On one hand the movie presented compelling concept that did justice to science fiction. However when it comes to presentation this film is sorely lacking. The movie’s lackluster plot and underwhelming characters made it hard for this installment to be a captivating experience. Somewhere within The Cloverfield Paradox is a great sci-fi film, but because of its lack of delivery in crucial area this entry in the Cloverfield franchise is one that seems to be lost in space.

 

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