The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) – A botched attempt to recreate the greatness of its predecessor

When the 2008 sleeper hit ‘Cloverfield‘ first hit theatres, the film found its footing and grew exponentially, catapulting its director Matt Reeves to the elites. 

He would soon go on to direct the Vampire romance ‘Let Me In’ and two of the best entries in the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise. But what followed was an unprecedented rise in Found Footage horror films, later to be solidified by the increasingly deplorable ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise. Fast forwarding to 2016, ‘10 Cloverfield Lane‘ released to an even more aloof audience, to an even better reception. The film was praised for its atmospheric treatment and three strong lead actors.

Another 2 years later, ‘ The Cloverfield Paradox ‘, previously titled ‘The God Particle, saw a surprise release earlier in the day just after SuperBowl 2018.

The Cloverfield Paradox, directed by Nigerian filmmaker Julius Onah, follows the crew of the Cloverfield space station. Their mission is to fire up the Shepard Particle Accelerator, despite grave concerns from conspiracy theorists on Earth, that the usage of the accelerator would unleash monsters and demons from portals to other dimensions,. the collective space agencies continue to try and fire up the Particle Accelerator, in hopes of solving the energy crisis that is currently plaguing the Earth of this timeline. 2 years without success, the machine finally succeeds one day, only to fail again and with fatal consequences.

 

The Film starts off with an interesting premise and asks the viewer for their attention

 

 

and you do feel like giving it to them. But the film soon falls into the well of predictability and tepidness, almost cheating you of the beautifully audacious premise you are promised at the start. What was a joyride through the first hour, becomes a sordid drag through your own sanity in the last 45 minutes. The worst part of that is the transition from interesting to abhorrent happens almost instantly, not preparing you for the stupidity that follows and leaving you with a sour taste by the time the film is done. What started out as a fitting sequel to 10 Cloverfield Lane, ultimately became a loveless marriage of downright idiotic character decisions and seemingly chaotic subplots.

 

Where the film does benefit, is the production design and the performances

 

 

For a 40 million dollar budget sequel, the film boasts some impressive imagery and beautiful sets. The space shots are visually enticing to look at and the set where most of the drama takes place is designed with a good eye to detail. Black Mirror alumni Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Ava Hamilton, the troubled communications engineer of the Cloverfield space station. Mbatha-Raw adds vulnerability to an underwritten character, whose regret over the death of her children and the subsequent long time in space, away from her husband has her in emotional turmoil. While the character is severely underwritten, with us being given some very stereotypical background, almost like a poor photocopy of Dr Ryan Stone(Gravity,2013), Mbatha-Raw performs well in whatever she is given. Daniel Bruhl, David Oyelowo and Elizabeth Debicki are the other three who deserve special mentions, but even they cannot escape their poorly written characters.

 

 

If there ever was a third act gone so disastrously wrong, The Cloverfield Paradox wins the award for that

 

While the first act is arguably the best, establishing the characters and with views of space surrounding them and the following pacing the story with some exposition, the third act botches all the goodwill built up. What could have been so different becomes so very same. One cannot deny the air of knowing the entirety of the third act by the time it starts because we have seen such a plot before this in films involving space stations. Falling into the exact same tropes and without the suspense, the third act feels like Alien: Covenant gone wrong, which itself suffered from a horrendous third act. That might explain how much I hated it. Besides a small glimpse of the eponymous monster twice, the film has not got a single frame that would indicate it being a sequel to the brilliance that came before it. Unless you count the numerous times they try to shove the word Cloverfield at you

Overall, it is a film bogged down by a terrible script, haphazard direction and poor similarities to the space station films that precede it. The gorgeous set design cannot save a film whose substance would be in the negative if one could actually go that far. I am happy in a way that Paramount basically dropped the film because had this film seen a theatrical release, it would become a major laughing stock and an embarrassment to the Cloverfield franchise as a whole. One can forgive it, given the recent decline in Netflix original films like Death Note and Open House, but that cannot save it from being a stain bearing the name of a franchise whose previous films redefined their genres.

Jack of many trades, but a master of none. A businessman by profession, but a chef by heart, Dipanjan has his hands dirty with photography and photoshop. He would spend all his day sleeping if he could, and makes the same resolution of losing weight every year(but to no avail) . Also has two daughters, which are actually dogs, but sshhh we don’t tell him that.

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