We’ve seen The Cloverfield Paradox before. In Alien. Lost. Arrival. Interstellar. You’ll notice we didn’t say ‘in Cloverfield.’ That’s because elements of the aforementioned films were stitched together to make Paradox and then merely velcro’d to the Cloverfield franchise. To say it has an identity crisis is an understatement. It feels this movie was made more for fans of Lost than the original Cloverfield.
It’s been a week since Netflix dropped big money on a big Super Bowl commercial and created big buzz for the project by releasing it as soon as the game finished. It worked. People reheated leftover pizza rolls and mozzarella sticks from the game day buffet and watched. And what they saw was Alien. Lost. Arrival. Interstellar.
Running Out of Energy
The gist is told to us by not-so-subtle TV and radio reports that is Earth is running out of energy (the same could be said for this franchise), and on the brink of World War III. A band of international scientists go to space and try to fire a particle accelerator, called Shepard, which, if they can get it to work, will solve the planet’s energy issues forever. The science behind it isn’t important. In fact, scientists should avoid seeing this altogether as the premises put forth are so scientifically shaky that it will make them violently angry.
After two years on the space station, they still can’t get the machine to work and are running out of fuel to fire it up. Meanwhile, in yet another TV report, a conspiracy theorist says Shepard will rip open space time and unleash all sorts of nightmarish scenarios including demons from the sea. I love when foreshadowing subtly bashes you over the head with a brick.
Our intrepid team is getting frustrated, and from the russian to the german to the stoic captain, everyone plays their nationality to a stereotypical T.
Once they finally get Shepard to do its thing, the weirdness begins. Worms teleport into a crew member. A crew member from another dimension appears in a wall. A wall severs and arm and gives it a mind of its own (Quick! Someone get it a pen!). Back on Earth the husband of one of the crew members rescues a young girl and takes her to a bunker. This creates a tossed salad of elements that don’t seem to really advance the plot, although the arm does contribute to the effort and is more believable than the character it was severed from.
Back To The Future
The Cloverfield Paradox eventually manages to link itself back to the original franchise. But it feels forced, like it was an afterthought. As if after borrowing plot elements from Alien, Lost, Arrival, Interstellar, the writers suddenly remembered which franchise they were supposed to be bastardizing.
The scariest part of this film comes at the end, when you realize they’re setting up another sequel.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Go to the 7-11, buy a blue Slushee. Add vodka, grenadine, some whisky and a splash of orange juice. Like The Cloverfield Paradox, you won’t really know what you’re drinking and swear you’ll never have it again. But a couple years from now you’ll try it again anyway.