By Martin Suryadi (BC, Canada)
A Disappointing Cliché-Filled Thriller
I’d first like to preface this review by saying that if you were expecting to have your unanswered Cloverfield questions answered with this movie, you’ll most likely be sorely let down. Some origins are revealed, but overall more questions are raised by the end of this movie than when it started. Without further ado, let’s delve into things.
The Cloverfield Paradox is the third film in the Cloverfield series after Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. This movie follows closer in the footsteps of the former by not being a found footage movie, but this time is set in space. The Cloverfield Paradox is directed by Julius Ohan and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as its lead actress.
The first thing that comes to mind after watching The Cloverfield Paradox is how heavily it borrows from similar sources like Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). The bulk of the story takes place on board a space station orbiting the Earth. A group of scientists are tasked with alleviating Earth’s power problem by creating infinite energy. After numerous failed tests, things go awry and the crew begin experiencing strange life threatening events one after another.
The setting that The Cloverfield Paradox ends up creating is dreadfully generic. Every set piece on the space station could be taken from just about any sci-fi show from the last 10 years. From its long empty corridors to its semi-futuristic technology, nothing seems to have its own style. One thing I appreciated however was the fact that there was little exposition for the science of the movie. Knowing the specifics of how everything works isn’t needed, but sometimes this was taken too far when there was little explanation for why a character would do certain things.
Another thing of note is that each actor played their part exceptionally, aside from a few hiccups here or there. Every expression seemed genuine and most lines were delivered believably. From the moment you met the crew of the space station, you could see how each member felt about each other.
Where the movie starts to shine is when it follows a predictable path of picking characters off in somewhat less predictable ways. With the laws of time and space thrown out the window, anything can happen! Each death is easily predicted, but a few of them were quite the spectacle, most memorable being the first two.
The atmosphere that begins to form is reminiscent of every space-themed thriller ever made. The space station feels like it’s being stalked by some malevolent force that’s out to get the crew like the Xenomorph in Alien, but that’s all it is, a feeling. Unfortunately however, this ends up being no more than a mere coincidence as there is no big baddie revealed or any other such payoff.
Worst of all, the movie suffers from just about every cliché that the genre has. If you can think of it, it’s probably in this movie.
Disappointingly, not even the comic relief, played by the ever funny Chris O’Dowd, was enough to help by all that much. If anything, the jokes felt out of place and takes the viewer further out of the experience.
Overall, The Cloverfield Paradox felt like a jumble of other sci-fi film ideas mashed into one without a clear direction of its own. Comparing it to the previous entries in the franchise, The Cloverfield Paradox manages be a bit better than the first movie (not a difficult task) but far less engaging than the second.