Cloverfield Paradox is a monster of a mess

by Shane Dillon
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Still from Cloverfield Paradox

Remember Cloverfield? The found-footage monster film that conquered the world back in 2008, followed by an indirect but decent sequel of sorts in 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)?
Well, how the mighty have fallen, because the latest addition to the Cloverfield oeuvre – Cloverfield Paradox (102 mins) – is an oeuvre-cooked monstrous mess – so much so that it’s been dumped straight onto Netflix by Paramount, rather than stink up cinemas.

It’s an interesting move for Netflix, which is no stranger to original programming, of course, but has a comparatively light record when it comes to screening original big-name films.
Speaking of light, an exception came late last year with Bright, an underwhelming high-concept Will Smith vehicle starring him as a rather unpleasant cop in the ’hood teaming up with an orc partner to safeguard a powerful wand while some bad elves – oh, don’t ask, as it was anything but a magical experience.

However, Paradox goes a step further, leaving viewers scratching their heads and wondering what on earth Netflix took ownership of such a troubled production for.
Earth is central to the film, which largely follows a group of orbiting astronauts attempting to fire up a McGuffin machine to create infinite energy for the planet, which is slipping into chaos below as our resources run out.

Tensions are running high both on terra-firma and terra-space-stationah, with the international crew at their wits end in trying to get their science project to work, watching war break out and adding to the pressure on their spinning station.

Perhaps they should have relied more on asking The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd for tech support, as he’s also on board, but seemingly treating his role and the entire film as a flat-out comedy, despite the (admittedly impressive) earnestness on show from some of his fellow cast members.

So far, so … odd, given that the first two films in the Cloverfield universe were very much set in the ‘now’, whereas this tale just feels like some near-future offshoot that, frankly, is pretty hard to relate to the giant-monster flicks that its predecessors ultimately proved to be.

It’s not long before terrible things start happening on board the station, the crew start meeting grisly or unexpected deaths, and the film starts turning into some kind of mish-mash between Gravity, Sliders, Life, and Doctor Who.

Believe me, that would be a better production to watch, as Paradox’s muddled tale of desperate astronauts and parallel universes (spoiler alert there) fails to line up the easy shots that such a diverse sci-film should be able to take.

It’s almost worth watching for Chris’s funny turn (there’s an unintentionally absolutely hilarious scene where his neatly-severed-yet-still-alive arm wants to write the crew a warning, with Chris playing the scene like it’s a Red Dwarf offshoot), but the end result is just awful.

As such, Paradox is an early candidate for the worst-of-2018 film lists that you’ll see appearing near the year’s end.
If you’re looking for a great stompy-monster show, Netflix is still home to Stranger Things, but this thing is just strange…

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