The Cloverfield Paradox (dir. Julius Onah, 2018) – During the testing of a device that may solve the Earth’s energy crisis, a space crew ends up facing a dark alternate reality.
While a decent work of entertainment, The Cloverfield Paradox is as much a sequel to Cloverfield as Toy Story is the second parter of Puppet Master. (It isn’t.)
By now, the secret is out. The Cloverfield Paradox has turned out less of a sequel to the monster movie than an ambitious concept riding on the waves of it. It would not be wrong to call this a marketing scam. But on the bright side, the anthology has lent a boost to scripts that would have usually gone under the radar.
After all, the trick had worked once. Two years ago, 10 Cloverfield Lane sprung a pleasant surprise, where John Goodman’s conspiracy theorist abducts a young woman and claims the role of her protector. His ambiguous motives tease his insanity, but also a possible catastrophe beyond the bunker. Could the disaster be connected to the titular monster? The question rouses anticipation for its arrival, which makes the final minutes particularly gratifying.
Similar loose ties should have been expected of The Cloverfield Paradox. If only the Netflix production had not been touted as the answer to how the monsters first arrived on Earth. Setting viewers up for disappointment from the get-go, The Cloverfield Paradox is off to a shaky start.
A standard set-up sees the cream of the crop headed for space, where hope for humanity dangles on their mission to solve the world’s energy crisis. Their means? A particle accelerator that may rip open the membrane of space-time and invite extraterrestrial threats to Earth.
And… credits roll.
I kid. The explanation may have been handed over on a plate, but the show that has barely started must go on. After all, the tropes have already shown up to take the stage. So, as warned, the fabric of reality eventually tears and brings alternate timelines to the game. This is where all madness begins.
The promised paradox soon presents various aberrations, even if they make little sense. The peculiarities set their own rules in physics and even biology, each deliberately designed to give them a hand (sorry) in solving the mystery.
As a standalone film, The Cloverfield Paradox might actually be good fun. There are commendable efforts in the conceptual ambition of writer Oren Uziel, and the steady suspense built up by director Julius Onah. Chris O’ Dowd gets to throw in his wise quips about his predicament too, though largely ignored by the remainder crew in panic mode.
Sadly, as a Cloverfield sequel, all this feels like a fraud. The alternate universes serve as a poor excuse to connect independent movies that are clearly unrelated, save for a fleeting glimpse of the namesake creature. Breaking its initial promise of a satisfying answer, the wibbly wobbly timelines ultimately only serve to leave behind more questions, delivering logic gaps that rival in size the craters on our moon.