The Cloverfield Paradox Review
The Cloverfield Paradox is a 2018 sci-fi thriller about a scientific experiment aboard the space station involving a particle accelerator that has unexpected results.
In the ten years since the still influential found footage genre-defining hit Cloverfield hit theaters, a lot of questions have been asked about what it was all about and where the monster came from. With last year’s not so resolving quasi-side-story 10 Cloverfield Lane, we only got more questions … and a pretty decent thriller, but now comes the next in the sereis, Julius Onah‘s The Cloverfield Paradox, and while it deviates from the familiar setting and style of Matt Reeves‘ first film, it is nonetheless an often clever and exciting thriller that works hard to keep the series heading in new directions.
After a brief opening on Earth, where we are witness to hints that there are some problems on our little rock in space. There is a massive energy crisis causing rolling blackouts in most cities, but much worse, there are people going hungry. Fortunately, orbiting the planet is the Cloverfield, a space station with a large crew, looking to try an experimental science project that could potentially and permanently resolve the energy crisis. Thing is, after 694 days, they’ve had no success and it’s causing some stress onboard, but also at home, as some believe their efforts could be disastrous. When the energy beam does finally work, celebration is short-lived. Earth is gone and the crew of the Cloverfield are lost in space.
The ensemble cast, including Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, Ziyi Zhang, and David Oyelowo, certainly aren’t lacking diversity or talent. Paralleling predecessors like Alien, Sunshine, and even Event Horizon, these are characters naturally not always on the same side. Conflicts abound as the months and years pass, each blaming the other for failure. In fact, while both previous Cloverfield movies were more psychological thrillers than straight-up horror, this one veers far into monster-in-the-dark territory, making it potentially the scariest of the three.
Written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung, the film script is in good hands. Uziel’s Shimmer Lake was a clever and stylistic crime thriller and Jung co-wrote Star Trek Beyond, a solid entry in the latest series. The two combine forces to debut a mostly effective claustrophobic chiller that plays with a few expected tropes of the genre while delivering some genuinely effective bends in the road that offer real surprise. That’s not to say there aren’t some flaws. The film toys with tone, throwing Chris O’Dowd one liners at us while spraying plenty of ick at the screen, making it a little hard to know where to get settled. I appreciate the film’s efforts to try and balance the two, however it’s sometimes not as smart as it wants to be.
Still, for sci-fi fans, there’s some really fun twists as the crew tries to figure what has happened to Earth and why all hell is breaking out on board. These are mostly cardboard characters of course, personality vehicles meant to collide with each other as the chaos ratchets up. More so, I’m purposefully leaving out a large chunk of the plot so as not to spoil where it goes. Fast-paced and loaded with energy, it, as you’re probably guessing, is far removed from the others in the franchise, the series becoming a kind of cinema version of The Twilight Zone, loosely patching the whole thing together. I found a lot to like here, especially with the story itself, and while it might not be quite as impactful as the others, is still a trippy ride well worth a watch.
The Cloverfield Paradox Review
Movie description: The Cloverfield Paradox is a 2018 sci-fi thriller about a scientific experiment aboard the space station involving a particle accelerator that has unexpected results.
Director(s): Julius Onah
Actor(s): Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl