The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) Review

When a scientific experiment goes awry aboard the space station, an international team of space crew (among them includes Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) must work together to fight for survival.

The first two J.J. Abrams-produced Cloverfield movies were best known for its ingenious marketing strategy as well as its interconnected universe between the two movies (the 2008 self-titled original and 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane). Now comes The Cloverfield Paradox, in which the franchise has done it again with the same nifty pulling-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat trick. Only this time, it wasn’t a surprise trailer that dropped all of the sudden as seen in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Instead, Paramount and Netflix surprised everyone by releasing the third entry on the same day after the Super Bowl LII!

The marketing strategy behind The Cloverfield Paradox is no doubt a creative move that no one saw it coming. But what about the movie itself? Is it all smokes and mirrors? Well, after watching the third entry, I have to say the movie wasn’t as great as it wanted to be. Originally titled as God Particle, the Julius Onah-directed science fiction horror was supposed to be a different movie altogether. Then, reshoots happen to retool the movie to be part of the Cloverfield universe.

Onah, whose previous feature-length movie was the 2015’s crime thriller, The Girl is in Trouble is obviously inspired his Cloverfield Paradox from other like-minded sci-fi movies. Over the course of 102 minutes, I have seen shades of AlienThe ThingEvent Horizon, Inception and even last year’s Life (the one which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson) fit altogether into one movie. Personally, I don’t mind with all the borrowed bits here and there as long as the movie itself able to deliver the goods. While I appreciate the movie’s brisk pace and Bear McCreary’s Hitchcockian-style suspenseful music, Onah alongside screenwriters Oren Uziel (22 Jump Street) and Doug Jung (Star Trek: Beyond) tell the story in a perfunctory manner. For all the supposedly interesting additions of the space-time continuum and alternate timeline, The Cloverfield Paradox is basically all surface but little depth within.

The overall storyline itself is by the numbers. The characters, despite the inspiring cast of international actors with the likes of Daniel Brühl and David Oyelowo, are mostly cardboard cutouts. The only exception from the cast that leaves an impression is Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s engaging performance as Hamilton. Chris O’Dowd’s supporting role as the movie’s comic relief is mostly ill-timed, particularly during a scene where I found it odd he’s able to crack a joke. It’s a pity that Zhang Ziyi and Elizabeth Debicki are both wasted with their respective underwritten roles.

Still, The Cloverfield Paradox remains a decent cinematic experience, albeit its non-theatrical platform since it’s Netflix anyway. Onah able to handle some of the suspenseful and thrilling moments within the confines of a space station. The surprise ending manages to pull off nicely enough, which also happens to be the best scene in the movie.

With Overlord a.k.a. Cloverfield 4 already completed its production and slated for an October release this year, I begin to wonder just how long J.J. Abrams able to pull the surprise trick over and over again. Will the fourth movie finally clear things up once and for all? I guess we all have to find out when the movie arrives.

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