Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Movie Review: "The Cloverfield Paradox" (2018)

Director: Julius Onah
Year: 2017
Rating: TV-MA
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

An international crew of astronauts is working on an experiment that will provide unlimited energy for the earth, which is stuck in an energy crisis. When the experiment overloads, they inadvertently rip a hole in a space-time continuum, allowing elements from multiple dimensions to merge.
"If this doesn't work, I can't even think about what happens down there." (Image Source)
Suddenly, without warning, a new "Cloverfield" movie appeared on Netflix immediately following the Super Bowl this year. Seriously, it happened quick. The trailer for the film first premiered during the halftime show of Super Bowl LII and then there it was, dropped onto Netflix like it was no big deal. We didn't even get to see the trailer because we were not watching the big game.

"The Cloverfield Paradox" is the latest film in the "Cloverfield" sci-fi thriller anthology series. The film is directed by Julius Onah, who has only directed one other feature film. The screenplay is written by Oren Uziel, who has previously written movies like "22 Jump Street" and "Shimmer Lake." It stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava Hamilton, a British communications officer working aboard the Cloverfield space station. She has had some recent tragedies in her past, and they still haunt her every single day. Joining Mbatha-Raw are David Oyelowo as Commander Kiel, the commanding officer aboard the space station, Daniel Brühl as Ernst Schmidt, a physicist from Germany, John Ortiz as the space station's medical doctor Monk Acosta, as well as Chris O'Dowd, Ziyi Zhang, and Aksel Hennie, who play station engineers Mundy, Tam, and Volkov. The earth is in an energy crisis, and the team of scientists aboard the Cloverfield space station is using a particle accelerator to work towards a solution. During one of their tests, they rip a hole in the space-time continuum and accidentally jumbling multiple dimensions.
"We didn't destroy Earth, we just lost it." (Image Source)
For many people, "The Cloverfield Paradox" became over-hyped and then under-delivered all within the span of a few hours. For us, there simply wasn't enough time to get hyped in the first place, nor do we feel this film was a massive disappointment. Sure, it's not as good as the other "Cloverfield" movies, but this is still an average sci-fi fantasy thriller with some stunning visuals. We don't think it does any harm to the series. Each "Cloverfield" film exists in a bubble with only fleeting references to the other installments in the larger anthology. This particular "bubble" is all about Ava's journey and how she is eventually presented with a personal paradox and is forced to chose between what she feels is right for her and what she feels is right for humanity. Outside of her personal journey, there is a lot, and we mean a lot going on. Some characters are mere footnotes, check-marks, if you will, to give the appearance that the film is being inclusive when actually it's the actors who are completely underutilized that we wanted to know more about. The story deals with multiple dimensions and timelines, and whenever a story introduces such elements, it opens itself up to a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies. We're not going to lie, "The Cloverfield Paradox" certainly has them. There are a lot of questions as to how or why certain things happen which are never clearly answered, and at times, I found myself a bit confused at some of the minutiae going on in the story. BigJ on the other hand never had an issue following along and didn't find anything too confusing here. All of the neat looking sci-fi stuff is merely a contrived catalyst to further Ava's personal journey. That being said, the crux of this story also explains how the "Cloverfield" universe works as a whole with an infinite number of independent realities, which works moderately well to create cohesion within an anthology-style series.
"This dimension is eating us alive." (Image Source)
Despite its flaws, we still wound up enjoying "The Cloverfield Paradox" for the most part. One cannot deny that it's an impressive looking sci-fi movie. Even if we were a little confused on the details because of the story's multiple timelines, we were mostly entertained by everything that happened, and we still can't wait for the next installment of this anthology.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.4/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 17%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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