The Cloverfield Paradox – Film Review

Back in 2016 there were reports after March 2016 successful launch of “10 Cloverfield Lane” of another ‘Cloverfield’ entry coming to theaters. This entry which was initially called ‘God Particle’ was pushed back several times over the past two years before finally being released on Netflix on February 4th after the Super Bowl. This film did something unprecedented. Not only did the film have its marketing launch on the Super Bowl but also it was the same day as they released it. There were rumblings of this film being bought from Paramount Pictures due to their lack of confidence of it doing well to make back its reported $40 million dollar budget.

After seeing the film I can see why Paramount let Netflix purchase the film. The film itself is an enjoyable ride but it didn’t have enough of the script thought out or well executed to stand on its own to be a strong story overal. There are several instances where you can tell this film was reworked into being a ‘Cloverfield’ entry to save it from being something that no one would want to watch. It was smart to do that but it was too little too late to save the film after so many push backs and it was better to just release it this way. The script and reveals were way too uneven to where there was no strong villain, the character through line that Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character was focused on didn’t feel fleshed out enough to matter. A lot of the plot points were derivative of other films which made this feature feel less original than the premise.

Hey guys, check out my arm. I think my arm is trying to write something.

Despite all the failures the film has to be cohesive and have a clear plot, villain, universe parameters and a clear connection to the overarching universe there are several redeeming things about this film. For one the cast is fantastic. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daniel Brühl have some strong performances. Chris O’Dowd, Zhang Ziyi and Aksel Hennie do some strong work as the supporting characters. The leads of the film are primarily African which is a positive action going for this film. It depicts 3 people of color as a clear main focus of the film and aren’t made out to be redshirts. The director Julius Onah is a Nigerian film maker as well, who should also be commended on his camera work and direction.

Other elements that worked for me were the body horror elements and the visual effects. The effects felt pretty top notch and I wish I could have seen those on the big screen. Overall I would say this is the weakest entry of the franchise, and though it does answer some questions loosely — the ambiguity of those answers doesn’t justify a clear narrative for the audience. I hope that the next entry — which is currently titled as “Overlord” (set in the 40’s during World War II) has a better overall story which can survive on its own without the ‘Cloverfield’ name slapped on it. One of the reasons why “10 Cloverfield Lane” worked so well is that the film without the elements of this series aren’t in it, the film works by itself as a contained thriller. I hope that Bad Robot, Paramount and JJ are able to regroup and grab projects sooner to have less clunkier ‘Cloverfield’ films.


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