The Cloverfield Paradox movie review: This Netflix film is not just a disappointing, but an enraging watch

Mihir Fadnavis

Feb,06 2018 12:11:50 IST


The Cloverfield Paradox is one of the biggest cinematic lost opportunities in history. Here we had an opportunity for something that would change the ways movies are made and marketed. We had an unprecedented opportunity to watch a movie the day it was announced. We had an opportunity to experience an interesting cinematic universe explode outside of the MCU. By being a bad movie The Cloverfield Paradox not just a disappointing but an enraging watch.

Originally titled The God Particle, the film was delayed multiple times, was then surprisingly announced as a Cloverfield sequel and then delayed again, until a big Superbowl announcement claiming  right after the game. An astonishing and ballsy feat of marketing and programming for sure (and kudos to Netflix for pulling this stunt), so why is this film so bad?

A still from The Cloverfield Paradox.

To begin with, everything – from the story to the characters to the visuals and the mystery and the link to the Cloverfield universe is awful. The amazing cast of Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O'Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo and Zhang Ziyi is wasted into becoming a stereotypical space ship crew stuck in space with no clue on what’s happening despite being scientists. You would expect in 2018 a group of people sent on a scientific mission to save the world would be smart enough to figure out the problem at hand when the audience clearly can, but no such luck here – everyone on board is dumb.

The Earth disappears after the mission goes wrong but nobody is able to piece together what seems to be a straight forward mystery, and you’ll feel yourself punching your computer screens at the moronic decisions the characters make to survive.

The other big problem here is that this film does irreparable damage to the Cloverfield brand name. What once was a treasured sci fi movie nerd memory is now a pathetic con job where a bad product is repackaged in a shiny box.

It’s the cinematic equivalent of subprime loans given a AAA rating and people latching on unaware that they’re getting duped. The technical problems are secondary, but they’re very much present – like the overly lit sets which makes it look like a bad commercial, and the questionable ‘sounds’ in space – an area which is famous because no one can hear you scream.

Then there’s the frankly awful CGI during the segments that connect this movie to Cloverfield – you can tell that this was done in a hurry while turning a different movie into a Cloverfield sequel. The final image of the film is a big CGI shot that seems pieced together in a day and a half as a reference image, and the moment leading up to it is just unintentionally hilarious B-movie filmmaking. The patch up job gives the film a curious lack of tension, as if there are no stakes here and the absence of interesting characters makes it difficult to feel bad when they begin dying. At times the film veers off into a black hole of Evil Dead style cheesy comedy which is just cringe worthy and tonally completely different from the rest of the film.

It’s obvious why Paramount gave away a rather expensive film to a streaming platform rather than risk a big loss in theaters – it was a good idea gone very bad. More worryingly, Netflix has seemingly become a dumping ground for direct-to-dvd films packaged as prestige projects. This would be fine if the company were spending their sources to market the good stuff they buy out of festivals but the recent lack of acquisitions at Sundance (zero to be precise) and the quality of Bright and now The Cloverfield Mess is a worrying trend.

Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 12:11 PM