Indisputably surprising as a link to its previous parts, but also equally unnecessary and derivative. That’s the feeling that The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) left me with.
Floating somewhere in space, a spaceship crew receives a mysterious mission to embark on. While attempting to complete their objective, their ship is thrown out of its dimension. Coming back from the uncharted cosmos inadvertently means the entire crew’s at risk, with a threat none of them can fully comprehend.
During the commercial break at 2018’s Super Bowl, Netflix stirred the pot with its short teaser of a science fiction blockbuster entitled The Cloverfield Paradox (2018); the third entry in the Cloverfield saga, as well as an indirect follow-up to Dan Trachtenberg’s ingenious little thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) that belongs to some of the best cosmic scare-fests in decades.
After M. Night Shyamalan served his hottest twist yet in Split (2016), such an out-of-the-blue link shouldn’t be that shocking. In spite of that, Cloverfield as a whole concept hasn’t yet proven its full capability to act as an independet saga. Even the Alien franchise, although largely confined to Xenomorph’s manslaughter, honors the predatory alien with decent lore that has been recently expanding thanks to the newest entries. Cloverfield pales in comparison.
Every great story has its beginning somewhere, and starting from a seemingly unfavorable position, the director’s Julius Onah’s world was actually his oyster. Hardly developed lore meant a mostly white canvas, untethered to a series of films that already defined the series. Lamentably, The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) offers nothing refreshing not only within the franchise itself, but also as a sci fi flick. More than that, it just proves that coming across a gem in that genre is rare.
The plot is messy right from the start, full of desperate attempts to hook viewers with its lazy premise. Onah cluelessly navigates a bunch of characters, out of whom none blossoms enough to make us care. Daniel Bruhl and Elizabeth Debicki, the two biggest names on the payroll, reveal their most bland sides yet, having to withstand a job that treats their talents with little respect.
There’s also an infuriating tropes festivity going on in the film, and the numerous copy-pastes from other movies appear shamelessly. The film lazily draws from space horrors – Alien (1979) and Event Horizon (1997) to name some of them – but that’s not where it ends. Without a true heart beating for his film, Onah desperately juggles with concepts ideas from both Blade Runner films, Moon (2009), Sunshine (2007), and literally any film about space crew shut inside their ship. At the same time, the poor execution makes it obvious that The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) falls short in competition.
Even the way The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) links the two previous entries is drained out of creativity. I’ll spare the details, but if 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) was thin on aliens and their appearances, well – wait for what The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) holds up its sleeve.
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Dir. Julius Onah
Article updated on the 10th of March, 2021.