Blu-ray Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

It was just over a decade ago that Cloverfield hit theaters, and while there’s always the opportunity for sequels with monster movies, this found footage flick didn’t necessarily need one. It was effective at what it set out to do, it was entertaining, engaging and it actually used the found footage format well unlike so many other movies out there that leave you wondering why someone is constantly filming everything that’s happening instead of just dropping the camera and making a run for it.

The fact that Cloverfield worked so well on its own may be one of the reasons why it took eight years for a sequel to be announced, and when it did, most weren’t even aware it had been being made. The main reason for this is that the script was originally called The Cellar, and over time it was worked on so that it could be a part of the Cloverfield universe. 10 Cloverfield Lane took a much different approach than Cloverfield, losing the found footage style and focusing on creating a more suspenseful, mystery of sorts, but still eventually tying it together with the alien invasion that we’d seen in Cloverfield.

Now, when 10 Cloverfield Lane begins, there’s no mention of the events of the first film, so as far as the audience knows, the sequel takes place before the first movie, but then catches up with it by the end as the aliens are attacking earth. But now we have the third film in the series, The Cloverfield Paradox, and with it comes a whole new set of possibilities – one of which is that it’s possible that Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane don’t take place on the same planet, much less the same time period.

Like the previous entry, The Cloverfield Paradox was created out of a script called God Particle that focused on a particle accelerator being built in space in order to save humanity, and what may happen if when attempting to make it work, the scientists caused a rift in time and space, causing alternate realities to clash. That script underwent some major changes to become Paradox, including the possibility of these rifts opening the door for alien or demonic creatures to enter our world – or alternate versions of our world.

This notion is laid out pretty clearly early on in the film, so knowing that this is a Cloverfield movie, when you hear that a demonic gateway may open up if this equipment is used, we kind of know that that’s what’s going to happen. So, the challenge the movie has is whether or not they can still make an interesting story out of it, even though the main reason this film is being placed in the Cloverfield universe is to give some sort of explanation as to where these creatures from the first two films came from.

On that front The Cloverfield Paradox succeeds. The idea of a multi-verse being out there, and that the science being used to save the world may potentially cause it further harm is intriguing. The film has some really interesting ideas that work well enough to get from point A to point B in entertaining enough fashion, but it also chooses to do so in the most cliché ways possible. There’s fun to be had up there with this crew, trying to survive while figuring out what’s going on, but the movie never really feels like it finds its footing to take that next step to greatness.

In short: The Cloverfield Paradox is a movie that has solid ideas, but when it comes to execution, it more or less falls somewhat flat. It’s not that the movie is boring, it’s just that it lacks the shocks and surprises that we’ve come to expect from the series. There’s also quite a bit that needs to be looked past in order to make sense of things that happen. I’m not sure if the original script had these same problems, but that doesn’t really matter at this point.

One of the coolest scenes in the film is when the crew aboard the Cloverfield Station find a mysterious woman (Elizabeth Debicki) trapped inside the wall with power lines piercing various parts of her body. This is a really well handled, creepy scene, and when we find out why it happened it opens the door for so many more cool moments like this, but alas, they never come. There’s one that tries to be as shocking, but it’s just confusing in its attempt at shock value over logic.

Now I’m 100% someone who looks past a great deal of things in the name of entertainment, but it’s just tough when it’s clear that if given more time to flesh out a better overall story that this could’ve been an intense, memorable addition to the franchise. In the end, however, while it does add a new level to Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane because of things that happen in Paradox and just how crazy it is to mess with certain things we do in the name of science, that’s pretty much all Paradox truly succeeds at. On its own, well, it doesn’t really stand on its own so well because of how the story was drastically changed to shoe-horn the story into the Cloverfield universe.

But the main question is: is the film worth watching? If you’re a fan of the Cloverfield franchise, then yes, I’d say checking this out is worth your time as mentioned above, it adds a new layer to the previous films that will stay in your mind the next time you give them a watch – and that mainly works because Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane deserve repeat viewings. The Cloverfield Paradox, on the other hand, is more of a one and done. It’s entertaining enough the first time through, but because it’s just so full of tropes, generic characters and predictable scenarios I don’t think it really warrants further viewings once you know how it ties into the universe.

If there’s one thing we can learn from it it’s that maybe there’s an alternate universe out there where they really nailed the rewrite of the script, and it had characters we cared about on any level, and went on to deliver a movie that not only lived up to its processors, but surpassed them.

The movie looks great, with well done green screen for the most part, and some solid ship sets that also helped light the film with properly placed lighting. On the sound front, no real complaints. It’s a quieter film, and the accents may throw some people off so if you’re not opposed to subtitles then throwing them on can’t hurt here.

Things Are Not As They Appear: The Making of The Cloverfield Paradox This 15-minute feature touches on what went in to bringing this film to life, with the director, producer, cinematographer and various cast all talking about working on the various sets at the Paramount lot. It’s an engaging piece to watch with a solid look behind the scenes, which I’m always a fan of seeing.

Shepard Team: The Cast – This 15-minute feature focuses on the actors, and how director Julius Onah chased specific actors to help the film succeed, since it’s so character based. While I do think he pulled in some solid talent, I just had no real connection to any of them at any point. Maybe the film’s leading lady, Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), but even that felt contrived for the most part. Still, a fun, well produced special feature that’s worth checking out.

Paramount Pictures Presents The Cloverfield Paradox. Directed by: Julius Onah. Written by: Oren Uziel. Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies. Running time: 102 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: Feb. 5, 2019.

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