This week brought us a huge surprise from the mysterious people over at Bad Robot. After the Super Bowl, J.J. Abrams and company dropped the next film in the Cloverfield franchise at Netflix. No one knew this would happen; in fact, everyone expected it to be released in April. So, how does the new film measure up? Well, that’s a tricky question. While The Cloverfield Paradox may answer several questions about the first movie, it also raises several more questions almost to an exhausting fault. The result will either be thrilling or just leave you with nothing but a headache.
The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Hamilton, an astronaut who has been picked to join a team to help solve an energy crisis for Earth. Coming along for the space-journey are other familiar faces like Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds), David Oyelowo (Selma), and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids). Their focus is to help save the planet because the world is on the brink of war, but when they turn on the particle, they end up in an alternate reality.
From here, nothing makes sense. Things just start happening. No real apparent reason for it, they just happen without any explanation. Some elements you can piece together yourself, others just never make sense. Some can make the argument that nothing is supposed to make sense in Cloverfield, and while this might be true, the level of mystery is turned up to 11 in this movie. If mysteries were explosions, this movie would be the Michael Bay of keeping secrets.
There is also a subplot involving Hamilton’s husband, which brings the film to a screeching halt every time it cuts to earth. I heard most of this footage was added to stick this movie in the Cloververse, and if true, it did not help the film. The number of switches to earth could’ve been trimmed some, and probably would’ve had the same impact.
All this aside, the film has some worthy moments. Chris O’Dowd steals the show, and so does his arm (you’ll see). The special effects and cinematography in this movie are rock solid. Even the performances are pretty fantastic considering the ambiguity of the story. Fans will be pleased that some of the past mysteries get explained finally, including how the monster from Cloverfield came into existence. There’s even a surprise towards the finale that will make die-hard Cloverfans smile. If you enjoy Easter eggs in your movies, this sucker has plenty of them.
None of this felt like enough to overcome its gigantic plotholes though. I get these movies are driven by theories, and their fans love them for it, but this film might’ve gone too far. The only way to explain half of the film would require theories, and personally, I found it more frustrating than engaging.
With this said, I’m still onboard for more, which obviously means it succeeded somewhere. The Cloverfield Paradox is not as refreshing as the original, or as surprising as 10 Cloverfield Lane, but it does not entirely destroy the franchise. I’m game for more as long as they find a better balance between mystery and action in part 4.
The Cloverfield Paradox is now streaming on Netflix!