Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

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.

Verdict

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.)

3/5

Review

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.

The Cloverfield Paradox
“A little help here? Don’t just… space out.”

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 Cloverfield Paradox
Well, at least this film sent actual astronauts, not oil drillers trained to become astronauts.

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.

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17 thoughts on “Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

  1. I watched this a few weeks back and when I shared my opinions with my friends it amounted to – “The Energy Crisis has reached critical levels so the world sends a multinational team of the best looking scientists they could afford, and Chris O’Dowd, to do a macguffin that makes infinite energy and apparently it causes paradoxes…” Some of the scenes were really good, but that doesn’t excuse that they are strung together so badly. I spoke to someone (who hasn’t watched it) who pointed out it is part of the cloverfield multiverse (I knew there was one of those) and it apparently makes sense if you have seen all 3 (I haven’t seen cloverfield lane yet). If that is the case, then Netflix have failed making a movie that requires you to watch two others, only one of which is available on their service. If it is not strictly true (I don’t believe it is) then they have just done a rubbish job of it. I was really let down by this film as I was really excited for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that sums it up! And I agree that the story is poorly structured, partly due to the forced Cloverfield elements. Watching the other two films probably won’t help much, as the stories are very loosely connected.

      Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane are much stronger films, however. Which made this “prequel” an even bigger disappointment. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Omg that verdict tho 😂
    I read that these Cloverfield movies start out as specs that then get the J.J. Abrams treatment, which sounds kinda cool. I mean, it gave us 10 Cloverfield Lane. At the same time, it feels like approaching a film backwards. I think the concept of Paradox did itself in. It tried to do too much when Cloverfield has always worked better when the technique is restrained. Paradox just felt unfulfilled. Its budget, its script, a stellar but ultimately squandered cast…
    Shame about this one but hell, it did what it was supposed to. I watched the movie immediately after the Super Bowl and that might’ve been the point. The marketing was either ingeniously clever, or downright deceptive. I can’t decide.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right! Both other Cloverfield films had much leaner stories, which worked for their genres. Paradox did itself in with too big an ambition. After all, very few films handle multiverses well.

      I do hope Netflix continues taking risks with these films though. They are always interesting to watch, at least conceptually, even if they may not be solid masterpieces. Thanks for reading, Adrian! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It is good to hear from you! 😊 I completely understand why people hated this film, but also think expectations killed the movie a little. After all, the cast seemed brilliant all around, Oren Uziel has done some good work, and the first two Cloverfields were fantastic. It even had a pretty cool initial title – The God Particle. Such a shame that the final film turned out barely coherent, even if I did enjoy some of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Every comment I’ve made on every review about this movie, I didn’t feel like I was explaining myself well, on how a good movie could actually be a bad movie. You stated it all perfectly and said what I have been trying to say since the day it came out and I watched it.

    For me it just failed as a scifi movie and definitely as a Cloverfield movie. When I saw your term “logic gaps”, those two words sum up how I felt throughout the entire thing. Which is disappointing, because the first half hour to 45 minutes I actually enjoyed the movie and thought it was destined for greatness.

    I can’t say that I hated it, it makes for a good 90 or so minutes of entertainment when my scifi cravings have all but depleted on Netflix due from seeing everything already. But it does fall short and jumps the shark at the midway point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tony! Most of the reviews I’ve read have been pure vitriol, but I did enjoy a good part of the movie. Such a shame to see it fall apart eventually. Anyhow, I’m glad to see Netflix continually build on its sci-fi offerings. I’ve just seen Annihilation, and would unhesitatingly hail it as a masterpiece. 😊

      Like

      1. You’re welcome. Yes, I’m happy too that Netflix seems to be adding some scifi offerings. There’s a couple of series I’ve got interested in (Zoo and Dark Matter as examples). The problem is my time is limited and by the time I start season 2 I’ve forgotten what has happened in season 1 so I have to go back to watch it again. As far as Annihilation, if you write a good review on that movie I’ll have to annihilate it hahaha! I can’t say I hated it, I just came away more disappointed than I ever imagined I could. Okay, I can say I hated it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha, I remember you saying that about Annihilation! It’ll take some time for me to get to the review. But I stand by my love for the movie, and welcome any protests. 😉

          Like

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