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The Cloverfield Paradox (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

The Cloverfield Paradox


Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Zhang Ziyi, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies, Clover Nee, Jordan Rivera, Michael Stokes III, Celeste Clark, Nathan Oliver, Suzanne Cryer, Donal Logue and the voices of Ken Olin, Simon Pegg and Greg Grunberg.

Screenplay by Oren Uziel.

Directed by Julius Onah.

Distributed Netflix. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13.

It took over a decade for the second Cloverfield movie to show up, so fans could be excused for assuming it would be a good long time before the third. Therefore, it was kind of a surprise that during this week’s Super Bowl that we found out that not only had a third Cloverfield film been made a mere year-and-a-half after 10 Cloverfield Lane, but it was already available – not in theaters, but directly on Netflix.

That’s kind of impressive, making a major motion picture – the third part of a popular series – completely under the radar. Granted, the second movie was done pretty much on the down low, too, but the word that it was coming did leak out a month or two before it hit theaters. This secrecy is sort of the antithesis of the first Cloverfield movie, which while good enough, was mostly memorable for its innovative marketing campaign which got the buzz going for the movie months before the film release, with an inscrutable teaser trailer and a time-sucking preview website.

The Cloverfield Paradox also proves a point that we already suspected after the first two films – there is not a real through-line between the films. While all take place in worlds that are vaguely under attack by aliens, they do not appear to be taking place in the same world, nor do they appear to be under siege by the same aliens.

The thing that the Cloverfield movies do have in common – other than having someplace named Cloverfield in the movie which is not particularly vital to the storyline – is that the films are mashups of other popular films. The first Cloverfield was Godzilla meets The Blair Witch Project. 10 Cloverfield Lane was Misery meets I Am Legend. Now, The Cloverfield Paradox is Alien meets Gravity, with a bit of Interstellar tossed in for spice.

The Cloverfield Paradox has by far the best cast in the series – featuring international stars like David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, Chris O’Dowd, Zhang Ziyi, John Ortiz, Aksel Hennie, etc. It also has the series’ highest production values and best special effects. It tells the most complicated story. How is it, then, that The Cloverfield Paradox is by far the least interesting film in the series? And that’s keeping in mind the fact that the first two films were hardly great in the first place? (For the record, 10 Cloverfield Lane is probably the best movie of the three.)

The Cloverfield Paradox is told on two fronts. Most of the film takes place on a space station trying to create a power source to save the world from World War III. The ship somehow breaks through into a parallel dimension, wreaking havoc on both worlds. The rest of the story takes place on the planet, where family friends and co-workers are trying to find out what happened to the space station while the world is being destroyed by aliens.

It has lots of people running around, lots of explosions, lots of subterfuge – none of which is overly intriguing.

As said before, The Cloverfield Paradox does little to explain the connections between the three films – in fact it mostly dilutes the films’ similarities. And, honestly the future is looking pretty bleak for the Earth as the film goes on. Maybe the threads will be tied up in the rumored fourth chapter of the series. More likely, I think it will turn out to be a film anthology made up of vaguely similar, but mostly completely separate genre films.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: February 6, 2018.

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