Okay, where to start? I have words. A lot of words. Might as well just tell it like it is, Cloverfield Paradox (2018) is a hot narrative mess. While the first two films in the Cloverfield franchise have been well received, Cloverfield Paradox doesn’t compare to the freshness and excitement of the original Cloverfield (2008), nor does it possess the chilling suspense of 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). The story is contrived and a weak attempt to link a completely unrelated story idea to an existing franchise. There’s a reason a sequel like Cloverfield Paradox got released on Netflix instead of a more traditional theatrical release, and that is to keep production cost down and the possibility of a profit alive for Paramount.
It seems that when writing the script, Oren Uziel decided he wasn’t going to bother to make sure any of the elements make sense or jive with real-world facts. I understand this is a movie and creative license is a given, but if you’re going to write a script for a film that has elements of real-world science then you might want to make sure things make sense. For starters, at the beginning of the movie, it states that "the world's energy resources will be fully exhausted in five years," except that as of now around 25% of the world’s energy resources come from inexhaustible sources. But whatever, dramatic effect right?
How about making sure everyone on board the multinational space station can understand each other? Typically aboard a multinational space station, everyone speaks English (or Russian if they are aboard a Russian space station). Multiple languages would substantially increase the chance that someone may not understand what they’re saying in case of emergency. So why would there be a Chinese scientist on the station who only speaks Cantonese the entire movie and a Russian scientist who doesn’t speak or understand a word of Cantonese? Oh well, Russian guy! Tough luck. You should’ve learned Cantonese when you had the chance.
The scene in which the aforementioned Cantonese speaking scientist, Tam, gets caught in the flooding compartment that suffers a breach is scientifically inaccurate. If a room full of water were to experience a hull breach, the water would not immediately freeze, but instead, boil due to lack of air pressure. Either way, it’s not a pleasant death.
These next two annoy me because it’s just a lack of attention to detail. The rotation of the station does not match the resulting gravity direction. And lastly, when the crew attempts a near spacewalk, they walk along the hull. Except there is no gravity in space so how can they? That’s just frustrating to watch as a viewer. You put time aside to attend an event, and this was made an event once advertised during the Super Bowl, and this is what you get? It’s sad really, especially when J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot was involved in its production.
The story itself was baffling at times. At one point a loud terrible shriek is heard on board the station, and everyone arrives at the source of the noise which is a seemingly plain wall panel. It’s at this point in the movie where I got an Alien vibe, a poor man’s Alien but I’ll take it. That’s when I was pulled back into the insanity that is Cloverfield Paradox. Without much discussion or deliberation, the captain of the ship, Kiel (David Oyelowo) orders the panel removed to learn the cause of the noise. Keep in mind no one on the station has any protection from whatever is producing that inhuman scream. But no worries, it’s all good. Because the inhuman scream suddenly turns very human when the two members of the crew remove the panel. Funny how a metal panel can make a screaming turn from alien to a human in a matter of seconds. Thank the maker for sound effects. And the alien was a tall blonde human woman. Very strange.
Cloverfield Paradox is labeled as a science fiction/horror. Science definitely fiction. Horror, not so much. Yea there are some cool exploding head worms, and chest bursting (Alien I’m looking at you) scenes, but I think by then the story has rendered your mind numb and any horror elements become lost to the synapse gods.
It’s not all bad plotlines; the dialogue is about as riveting as a company meeting at my day job. I can’t even pinpoint an example, just press play and you’ll see what I mean. Ouch! My brain. It is unfortunate because I felt the cast wasn’t that bad. David Oyelowo had great performances in Selma and The Butler and does a fantastic job as the voice of Agent “hot” Kallus in Star Wars Rebels. Daniel Bruhl (Schmidt), John Ortiz (Monk), Aksel Hennie (Volkov), Ziyi Zhang (Tam), all did a respectable job considering the script. Chris O’Dowd as Mundy was one of my favorite characters. His quick one-liners broke up the monotony. The standout performance was by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Hamilton). I felt her performance was the most natural. I will be looking out for more of her acting in the future. For the most part, cast jelled despite the weak direction of Julius Onah. You can’t help but feel like what if the script and direction had been handled by someone with a better grasp on how to write natural characters.
Again, this is what you get when a script that was intended for an unrelated project gets transformed into something it wasn't originally designed to be. The script was initially bought by Paramount and Bad Robot in 2012 and meant for Paramount’s low-budget distribution label, InSurge. When InSurge folded, its production expanded to Paramount. It was then that Abrams decided to add scenes and adapt the screenplay as part of the Cloverfield franchise. Which is similar to how 10 Cloverfield Lane came to be with its original script, The Cellar. Where Paradox failed was its inception. If a sequel was the plan from the start, an entire rewrite is the only thing that could have fixed this mess. Plugging in a loose connection a second before the credits role also was` a stretch.
Whether you’re a fan of the Cloverfield films or not, stay clear of Cloverfield Paradox. There’s nothing to gain from watching this.