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The Cloverfield Paradox: Space Exploration Seems Terrible

February 5, 2018

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The Cloverfield Paradox was dropped onto Netflix after the Superbowl and I love that I knew absolutely nothing about it (aside from it is mysterious).  Netflix’s plan was smart because it got the internet buzzing and they were able to release it before the mystery and buzz disappeared due to the negative reviews and spoilers.  The Cloverfield Paradox is the third film of the eclectic franchise and it sheds some light on how the jerky and destructive creatures made it to earth. It isn’t nearly as good as the first two installments but I found myself enjoying the familiar science fiction antics involving some very good actors like Daniel Bruhl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo, John Ortiz and Ziyi Zhang.

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The Cloverfield Paradox focuses on a group of scientists who are testing a powerful machine called the Shephard Accelerator in space in order to potentially find a solution to earth’s energy crisis. The world’s denizens are close to a massive war and the feuds between countries have created a rift between the international crew of the space station which isn’t ideal due to the complicated nature of the mission.  We are informed early on from an earthbound former astronaut that the accelerator might potentially rip open spacetime and unleash monsters, demons, and beasts from the sea (sound familiar?). However, since this is a thriller the scientists ignore the warnings and run the accelerator which leads to a whole lot of paranoia, infighting, and limbs separated from bodies.

What happens next is pure stock science fiction as scientists are picked off one-by-one in various setpieces. I wish I could say that I cared for the characters but due to the breakneck pace I felt nothing for the actors who were killed. I don’t think it’s necessary to make every character a three-dimensional marvel and the trappings of hard science fiction don’t require backstories for everyone. However, there isn’t anything distinguishable between the crew and the only two actors who stand out are Daniel Bruhl and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mbatha-Raw stands out because of the vulnerability and humanity she brings to the role of a scientist dealing with a family in peril on earth. I bought into her character and was surprised that actors like David Oyelowo and Chris O’Dowd barely register in the movie.

What made Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane work is they felt unique, assured and urgent. The filmmaker’s touch in the movies were evident and they were able to elevate their found footage and chamber thriller pedigrees. Actors like TJ Miller, John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Lizzy Caplan were able to deliver fun performances and become memorable characters that you liked. You won’t find anything like this in The Cloverfield Paradox but you will have a fun time watching people you like being killed.

If you are a Cloverfield completist or science fiction fan I recommend you check out The Cloverfield Paradox.

 

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