Genre: Science Fiction, Horror.
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Zhang Ziyi, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies, Clover Nee, Donal Logue, Simon Pegg, Greg Grunberg.
Year Of Release: 2018
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Director: Julius Onah
Writer(s): Oren Uziel & Doug Jung
Synopsis: “Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.”
Let’s get this part out of the way, yes the marketing for “The Cloverfield Paradox” was a fast and hectic one, but the Cloverfield franchise as a whole has had some unorthodox marketing. The first film was elaborate and lasted months, 10 Cloverfield Land seemed to rush out in a month and this one, well, we had all of a couple of hours to prepare. Which I LOVED, but can the film live up to such marketing hype?
The Cloverfield Paradox is set in the near future and Earth is suffering from an energy crisis, space agencies across the globe have come together to launch the Cloverfield Station to help perfect the Shepard particle accelerator which they believe they can use as a sustainable energy source. The film serves as a prequel to the 2008 hit “Cloverfield” and is much less of a “spiritual successor” like 10 Cloverfield Lane was. Paradox while it is very much its own thing has big connections to the first film, but can most definitely be enjoyed without having seen the previous two films or even knowing their stories.
The film comes with a cast of instantly recognisable faces; David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Bruhl and John Ortiz. They all come with very different characters and play off each other very well, the stand out performance for me comes from Mbatha-Raw, who delivers equal part action bad-assery and her dramatic range, she is quickly making a name for herself with performances like this and “Black Mirror”, so much so she overshadows powerhouse David Oyelowo. By no means is he bad, he puts in a good performance, it’s just Mbatha-Raw is phenomenal. Chris O’Dowd serves as much needed comedic relief, a job he executes perfectly as he has done for the past decade, there is a couple of jokes that don’t hit as well as others but overall I found him hilarious and he plays well off the rest of the cast. Daniel Bruhl is a little mute in comparison to some of his performances I have seen recently, it isn’t bad, it just isn’t anything to get excited for, the same can be said for Zhang Ziyi and Aksel Hennie who make up the rest of the team on the station.
Was the perfect? No, very far from it to be fair. One of the glaring flaws to me was the subplot of Ava’s husband on Earth, parts of it felt a little forced to reaffirm the Cloverfield connection. If you had taken out that subplot, it would have been exactly the same film, if not a little better, I get what they were going for with the arc it was, in theory, a decent way to connect Paradox to Cloverfield, it just feels forced to me. The story itself is incredibly ambitious, it takes on other dimensional travel and is very different to previous instalments in the franchise, which I know will rub a few people the wrong way. For me it was clever and not overly complicated, they explain their approach to the science in a way it’s easy enough to follow but “sciencey” enough to make it sound smart. This is the first film I have seen from Julius Onah and if this is an insight into his approach to filmmaking I can not wait to see “Luce” later this year, he has a knack for tension building and an eye for visuals.
Talking about visuals, the effects in Paradox are stunning some of the shots of the space station are absolutely incredible, people seem to be brushing this film aside as a “like VOD” release or claiming it was dropped by Paramount because it was poor. Visuals alone should have warranted a cinematic release for this film, seeing the visuals on a big screen would have made them pop even more. Some of the visuals rival major releases, which is kind of obvious given it was intended to be one, but it is a welcomed addition when watching on a platform like Netflix. Along with the talents of everybody else, frequent Abrams collaborator Daniel Mindel handles the cinematography brilliantly as he always does, his work alone should have warranted a big screen release.
Writing credits come from Oren Uziel and Doug Jung who have been credited with “22 Jump Street” and “Star Strek Beyond” respectively, their combined power results in a brilliant Science Fiction film with moments of pure hilarity and levity. It helps the characters feel that extra bit more relatable given their circumstances, they feel like real people and not just characters in a space station horror flick. They aren’t going to go down in history for originality, the film does share similarities with a fair few within the subgenre, but they make the best of the tropes and results in a fun take on what we’ve seen before.
Overall, I found the film to be an incredibly fun and thrilling ride that deserves its place within the ever-expanding Cloverfield franchise. The franchise is very unpredictable and unconventional and this film is no different, that’s why it fits in so perfectly with the others, it is different and the way it opens up the franchise to take future films is a very welcomed approach. The Cloverfield Paradox is a smart, fun and entertaining Sci-Fi/Horror in the vein of Event Horizon, it’s a wonderful production that sets up the franchise to go forwards, backwards and even sideways, it has me really excited for future films. Does it live up to the unorthodox and unique way they released it? Well, that is just personal preference, I don’t personally believe it warranted the hype, but I do implore everybody to watch it.