Movie Review: ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’


Director: Julius Onah

Cast: Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu M’batha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Oritz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi

Plot: A space station housing a particle accelerator is on a mission to create a new limitless source of energy, but when the accelerator activates the station is flung into an alternate dimension.

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Review: Ok, let’s talk about what is perceived to be happening and what is likely to be happening.

What Abrams and team want us to believe is that there’s a huge, secret plan for a big Cloverfield universe with secret plans and connections that will all make sense if we can riddle it out and keep watching all the movies and sink time into their online games and scavenger hunts. What is more likely to be true is that they had a shitty sci-fi horror mess called God Particle, so they delayed the release long enough to splice in some badly animated references to a recognisable brand and slap it on the title. For bonus points you can chuck out a trailer that suggests we’ll get answers to questions left open by the original film. 

So to clear it up, this film explains next to nothing about anything from the Cloverfield films except tangentially. There’s a sub-plot with a character being caught up in the monster’s rampage but if you cut it from the film the only impact will be ten minutes less running time. Although to be fair I did skip some parts of the movie out of boredom. In the closing scene the spaceship crashes back to Earth and a poor CGI render of the monster pops out of the clouds as if to say “Hey kids, who wants to learn the alphabet?!” as though they’re providing fan service.

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“…and don’t take candy from strangers!”

The bulk of the movie follows the admittedly impressive cast (it’s been a long time since we saw Zhang Ziyi in an English language film) on a spaceship that’s been switched into a different dimension. Sometimes it plays on the horror angle with a stranger being found fused into the ship’s machinery – a grotesque sight that the afflicted recovers from in admirable time. Sometimes it works on an espionage style plot where one character is accused of sabotage and nobody trusts one another. Then it becomes unintentionally hilarious when Chris O’Dowd gets his arm stolen by the wall and later the arm writes them a secret message. 

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I’d make some joke about them looking at O’Dowd’s wayward arm crawling along a corridor, but that’s what they’re actually doing.

If there’s one thing that ties it all together it’s the earnest attempt to rip off Alien and Aliens. The scenes in those classics where the crew have breakfast were great ways to set the scene, ground the characters and setting and help the viewers connect with the human elements. This film is desperate to recreate those moments, and others from the franchise but fails at every angle. 

The Cloverfield Paradox yearns to be a serious science-fiction with a splattering of horror but comes across as silly. This could well be the unintentional comedy of the year if it wasn’t so damned boring. Whether you’re looking for a fresh, new adventure or the continuation of a dated monster film you’re going to be disappointed.

Rating: TWO out of TEN

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