Anthology series can be incredible examples of collective genius, creatives mixing together to create new mythology and engrossing storylines in a collaborative world. Or, in the case of JJ Abrams produced Cloverfield series, they can become a dumping ground for scripts that couldn’t quite make it. 10 Cloverfield Lane was in all fairness was a fantastic film for the most part; but was seriously hindered by a forced and tonally bizarre finale. The problems with The Cloverfield Paradox aren’t even as refined as this, it’s just a very bad film.
Originally billed as “The God Particle” Paradox was due to be released by Paramount this year, before Netflix acquired it in January. The reason for Paramount selling it, they believed it wasn’t “theatrical enough”. A sentiment that anyone made to watch the film will find hard to disagree with. The story mostly revolves around a group of scientists on Cloverfield Station, who are hoping to use a particle accelerator to create renewable energy back on Earth. However, things don’t go to plan, and soon they find themselves stranded in another dimension as their Earth is besieged. It’s an okay concept, but one which is heavily affected by just how predictably it develops. Making it hard to carry any emotional attachment to the characters, or their predicaments as you watch the paint by numbers horror unfold before you. Made even more irritating by the fact that instead of creating original, if not bland, sci-fi horror, the team behind Paradox feel quite happy relying on constant references. Alien, Life, Gravity and Event Horizon have all made their mark on director Julius Onah’s entry to the Cloverfield franchise in blatant fashion. The characters are equally uninspired, with very little personality present and no distinguishable arcs, a shame given the quality of the cast. David Oyelowo and Gigi Mbathu-Raw, playing Kiel & Ava respectively, try their best with the mangled script that needs a serious rework. A prime example of this being a necessity is Chris O’Dowd’s performance as Mundy which sees him rattling off bland one liners with ferocious speed and disdain.
The other portion of the story is what tries to tie Paradox into the Cloverfield universe. Following lead character Ava’s boyfriend Michael (Roger Davies) as he tries to escape the carnage on street level, and desperately tries to get in touch with Cloverfield Station. Not a lot else happens in this portion really, serving as a lot of the reason of how a film under two hours can feel baggy. The emotional disconnect from these storylines carries over to the visuals of the film too. The corridors of the ship are bland, and don’t create the sense of claustrophobic terror Onah was obviously straining for. Sections on Earth don’t fare any better, they’re poorly lit, unambitious and murky doing little to dissuade from the feeling this plotline was rushed filler.
Overall, The Cloverfield Paradox may have had a brilliant marketing campaign, but it’s a very hollow continuation of the series. Struggling to carve any identity for itself or create any memorable moments in its runtime. With a fourth Cloverfield film set in WW2, expected later this year, lets hope this was a misstep and not a sign of what’s to come.
Out now on Netflix