Director: Julius Onah
Writer: Oren Uziel
Stars: Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi
A group of culturally diverse astronauts is sent into space to test an alternative power source that may curb a devastating energy crisis on earth. During testing, the crew is inadvertently transported to an alternate time dimension. Their ship, the Cloverfield Station, requires repairs to successfully travel back to their own time zone, and as they investigate the circumstances surrounding their transportation, things begin to happen to the crew members. Back on Earth, the situation is heating up as well. The husband of a crew member fights for his life and that of a young girl while under attack from mysterious creatures.
My Opinion is Mixed…
The plot of “The Cloverfield Paradox” is like a dusty, crudely constructed patchwork quilt made by an arthritic quilter. The film, which changed hands from Paramount to Netflix during production, includes elements that associated it with the Cloverfield franchise. These scenes were apparently added as an afterthought, and it shows in the quality of the film. The scenes on Earth attempt to romance franchise fans with connections to the previous two films but end up jarring the flow of the movie. The story does have some continuity, however; the plot is disjointed and desperate for a connection to its popular counterparts, but it will still get you to the end without prompting you to start throwing things at your TV out of frustration.
A few redeeming qualities can be found in the big-budget special effects. The production quality of this film is high, but the writing is faulty. The creepy happenings like wiggling amputated arms and threatening inanimate objects (i.e. the walls!), though seemingly random and narratively insignificant, bring a certain wow-factor to this flawed film. I wanted to finish this film because these elements were entertaining, which is telling.
For me, the stacked cast and their satisfactory acting keep this film from hitting rock bottom. I personally haven’t seen Zhang Ziyi in anything but “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” and the Chinese-speaking actress is a rich addition to the cast. The character development is sparse, but the actors’ performances, specifically those of Chris O’dowd and Elizabeth Debicki, stretch the material to its maximum potential.
Ava Hamilton is the only developed character with an exposed backstory, which boggles my mind. It takes some serious thoughtlessness to pigeonhole almost every character in a story and leave them completely devoid of any personal history or developmental tidbits. This may have been a purposeful attempt to elevate the character of Ava to an Ellen Ripley-like status, but Gugu Mbatha-Raw is not a strong enough actress to pull off what Sigourney Weaver did in the Alien franchise.
The Netflix Paradox
What is mysterious to me is why Netflix keeps exposing itself to unnecessary ridicule. They have proven themselves to be gladiators in the domain of television show production, but their big-budget movies are falling flat. One theory is they have absolutely nothing to lose so they are taking some risks. Viewers are not going to cancel their Netflix subscriptions because they watched a crappy movie on the streaming service. Subscribers will give the film a thumbs up or a thumbs down, vent about it on social media, and then wash their hands of it. But here lies the genius- people will still watch the movie to see what all the hype (or disgust) is about because they don’t have to pay 17 dollars to see it in a theatre. In fact, this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship between major studios and Netflix; rather than eat a massive financial loss on a substandard film that wasn’t shut down early enough in production, they can sell it to Netflix fire-sale style.
Espresso and Cake (Better Known as Closing Comments)
“The Cloverfield Paradox” needs some work in the plot department. Its patched-up connection to the Cloverfield franchise is shoddy at best, and there should have been more time spent on transitional scenes and character development. Despite all of this, I still think it’s a fun movie. As far the Sci-fi genre goes, “The Cloverfield Paradox” isn’t breaking new ground; this film regurgitates concepts from top-tier films like “The Martian,” “Interstellar” and “Gravity.” However, it is nice to see that science fiction is continuing to get serious attention in the mainstream. Netflix may be supplying some critical stinkers, but there is one thing they never fail to do: Entertain.
Thank you for reading! Tell me what you think about The Cloverfield Paradox in the comments below!
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