First, it is important to give credit where credit is due. Netflix dropping the third film in the Cloverfield anthology was done in the most genius way. Twitter-sphere was flooded with rumors saying that the streaming service would release the film immediately after Super Bowl LII (which was easily the most fun I had watching the Super Bowl in years).
The rumors were true. A teaser premiered during the big game and hype was shooting through the roof. The viral marketing that generated anticipation with 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane was in full effect.
If only the latest film, The Cloverfield Paradox, had any shred of creativity the marketing did.
Directed by Julius Onah, Paradox continues the Cloverfield franchise’s tradition of telling a story of how humanity deals with crisis. To avoid spoilers, the basic plot details a space crew’s mission to replenish Earth’s resources and prevent global catastrophe.
Clichéd? Yes. Then again, the last two films had stories that felt familiar, but did something with them. The original Cloverfield merged a giant monster flick with the found footage subgenre, while 10 Cloverfield Lane brought a claustrophobic feel to a survivor story.
This film has elements of Alien and Interstellar. That’s about it.
There are no new elements, there’s nothing that sets it apart from other films of the same genre and nothing that makes the two-year wait worth it. Granted, I was not aware of its existence until I was watching the Super Bowl (An amazing game by the way. The Philadelphia Eagles played their hearts out and almost lost it, but came back strong—I could not be happier for Philly.), but it still stings.
The lack of creativity is not helped by a subpar script. It manages to jump around between tones, with actors such as Chris O’ Dowd providing some hilarious moments only seconds later to be outdone by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and David Oyelowo being melodramatic.
That is not a knock against the cast. They do a good job in spite of an awful and uninspired script, which can never decide what it wants to be. Is it a serious film that touches on issues of global catastrophe in a science-fiction setting? Or is it a film that aims to be this quirky, and weird horror thriller that leans on the more kooky side? If the film was shot as a straight comedy, it would have been better. That would have been the big genre hook to differentiate itself from the legions of films that it borrows from.
It feels like a generic film that could have appeared on the SyFy channel 15 years ago. One that has these boring connections to Cloverfield thrown in there in post-production for the sake of it. It manages to outdo the boredom that manifested from Alien:Covenant last May.
The Cloverfield Paradox set a gold standard in marketing and hype building. It also is a masterclass in how to make a film so bland that it manages to drag the films it copies.
For those who want something more exciting, the highlights from Super Bowl LII offer a little more substance than the 100 minutes wasted on Netflix.