The Cloverfield Paradox Review
Director: Julius Onah
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi
Mark my words, The Cloverfield Paradox is an absolute mess of a movie yet, for some reason, I didn’t hate it. I actually found myself enjoying the film despite its many, many flaws. Having said that, I cannot objectively give it a positive review because the film has plot holes in it bigger than the rip in space and time that the movie’s Shepard particle accelerator supposedly made. It makes no sense and defies all logic, but I was enjoying what was going on-screen, which also defies all logic.
So, let’s try and explain The Cloverfield Paradox’s script. The film is supposed to explain how that great big monster (now referred to as a ‘Clover’) ended up tearing down the building on New York in the very first Cloverfield movie. According to the third film in what has now become the Cloverfield Cinematic Universe, CCU for short (not sure if I’m the first one to come up with that, but I’m claiming it all the same), this whole mess was started by a particle accelerator in space called The Shepard which was trying to make infinite energy for the world which is currently undergoing an energy crisis and on the brink of World War Three.
We’re definitely not in Kentucky anymore.
However, after a year of trying, The Shepard’s crew members have made no progress until that fateful day when they hit the jackpot and get the particle accelerator working, yet instead of creating endless energy for everyone, they end up in a different universe and may have created more problems than they solved. The crew has to find a way to get back to their original universe and deal with the horrific, strange and unexplainable stuff that starts to happen on the ship.
There’s so much wrong with The Cloverfield Paradox. Its plot is all over the place. It’s a patchwork quilt of a movie with bits taken from other, better, sci-fi movies that have been clumsily stitched together and it’s starting to tear apart under the weight of its own stupidity. While watching The Cloverfield Paradox I would be reminded of Alien, Aliens, Event Horizon (a lot of Event Horizon), Videodrome and even last year’s Life, which was not good, but it was still objectively better than this film. I kept on thinking, “you know what, after this, I’d like to rewatch Event Horizon.” And I did, and it still holds up.
What are you talking about, Arm?
There are so many dumb things that happen in this movie. Chris O’Dowd’s character, Mundy, loses an arm at one point, only for it to come back clawing around like the hand in the Addams Family and full of wisdom. Somehow, even when the crew members have no idea what to do, Mundy’s severed arm does. None of the science in this movie makes even the slightest bit of sense, which I know sounds silly when talking about a movie involving a spaceship which has found itself in a parallel universe, but there should be at least some sort of reason behind everything that’s going on that the viewer can understand.
Then there are the characters’ actions. The decisions they take make no sense whatsoever, and they’re all a bunch of huge cliches. The Irish ‘handyman’ (see what I did there) is constantly making jokes even when he’s just lost an arm. The Brazilian doctor is a devout Catholic. Daniel Brühl plays the crews physicist, and of course, he’s German. Aksel Hennie’s Volkov turns out to be a bit of a dick and of course, he’s Russian. And after having watched it, I have no idea what Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character Hamilton was doing on that ship. Apparently, she was the communications officer.
Logic doesn’t apply to any of this.
So, despite all of these issues, why on Earth was sitting there thinking, “I’m actually enjoying this”? The only explanation that makes sense is that I enjoyed all the movies it was referencing and I do like the Cloverfield universe. As far as Cloverfield movies go, this is by far the worst – 10 Cloverfield Lane was especially good – but I still had a good time while watching it and I’m pretty sure that it will not harm the CCU’s future. These Cloverfield films will carry on regardless of The Cloverfield Paradox’s quality. They’re quickly becoming J.J. Abrams’ answer to The Twilight Zone. The next movie in the series is said to be set during World War 2 and has apparently already finished. The Cloverfield franchise isn’t stopping anytime soon.
Maybe another reason why I didn’t mind all of the film’s faults was because I was watching it on Netflix, which is the perfect place for a movie like this one. I might have been seething had I actually bothered to go all the way to the cinema and paid money to see it, but I didn’t. I just sat on my sofa with a drink and some popcorn, kicked off my shoes, turned on the TV (or in my case, my laptop) and selected Netflix. Job done.