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Review: The Cloverfield Paradox – “A mishmash of elements”

In a surprising move, the third Cloverfield film was released on Netflix last night, a couple of hours after the first trailer was released during the Super Bowl. Called The Cloverfield Paradox, it had been rumoured to be getting a release in April.

Instead, it is now here for us all to see. We also have a fourth film due out later this year.

J J Abrams has always loved mysteries and surprises and he did it again with the release of this one. However, is it any good?

Originally developed by Paramount when it was called The God Particle, the film went through some changes and seemingly retro-fitted into the Cloverfied universe. The film ended up getting sold to Netflix and some people were saying that was because cinema-going audiences could find the film too complex. That is always a rather silly argument as cinema going audiences are pretty damn clever, but studio execs always want to blame audiences instead of poorly made films or ill thought out marketing campaigns. That’s a discussion for another day.

This new film, directed by Julius Onah, follows a team of scientists on a space station working on a particle accelerator that will help solve the Earth’s energy crisis. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the lead character and she is also our link to what is happening on Earth as her husband (Roger Davies) is down there when things go to hell.

Long story short, the particle accelerator finally works and weird things happen.

What follows is a mishmash of elements from sci-fi stories – bits of Event Horizon, Alien, Life, Odyssey 5 and so on. If put together well then that is no problem, however it does feel at times that they had to force story elements to fit in with the whole Cloverfield set-up. That is most apparent with the events down on Earth, which feel like a totally different film and the ending just smacks of someone going “oh yeah, this is Cloverfield, let’s show the thing.” There was also a moment when I thought we were getting into 10 Cloverfield Lane territory, but it was not to be.

Actually, looking back at last years Life, that could have possibly worked better as a Cloverfield movie compared to God Particle.

It is a shame as there are moments when the film begins to take off and delves into some big scientific concepts, but poorly scripted elements derail that. The cast, which also includes David Oyelowo, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Brühl, Aksel Hennie, Elizabeth Debicki and Zhang Ziyi, do great work with what they have but most of the characters are just ciphers to get us through to the next plot point.

Everything looked great. The Cloverfield station was a cool piece of set design as were the various pieces of tech and space suits.

The main problem I had was how the story seemed to have been forced into the Cloverfield universe. Instead of being subtle it was like a monstrous sledgehammer. It could have been done a lot better, and an early scene featuring Donal Logue talking about the paradox does cover how all these bizarre events could happen at various places and times. Again, that felt like Cloverfield elements being forced into a pre-existing film. I can see why they included it, but it also means that anything can happen just because of this paradox. There were also times when it felt like a couple of rejected Black Mirror scripts smushed together.

I wish I had enjoyed the film more. Maybe it would have played better in a cinema with a packed audience, but watching it by myself in the comfort of my own home I felt my attention wandering in places. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat but just felt disappointed.

However, I will be checking out the fourth film to see how that ties into things.

The Cloverfield Paradox is now playing on Netflix.

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