15 – 102mins – 2018
“We’re definitely not in Kentucky anymore.”
You certainly cannot accuse the burgeoning Cloverfield cinematic universe (for that undoubtedly is what it now is) of resting on its laurels. Ten years and three films in, we have been treated to three distinct and intriguing genre pictures released in three distinct and intriguing ways. For those who thought 2008’s ground-breaking viral marketing-tease and 2015’s quick-drop cinema rollout too longwinded, Paradox dropped onto streaming giant Netflix just FOUR HOURS after its trailer debuted during this year’s Super Bowl. Wow.
Cynics would claim – harshly, if not entirely unfairly – that this fascinating, attention-grabbing marketing strategy was the most remarkable thing about this sci-fi-heavy Clover-threequel. Much like 10 Cloverfield Lane before it, Paradox started life as an unrelated standalone (The God Particle was the title of writer Oren Uziel’s spec script). Producer extraordinaire JJ Abrams belatedly decided to crowbar in links to the mythology of his monster franchise when the film went into production at Paramount, via rewrites from Star Trek Beyond’s Doug Jung.
In 2028, a multinational crew of scientists aboard the Cloverfield space station are attempting to fire the Shepard Particle Accelerator with the ultimate hope of providing our energy-strapped planet with infinite energy. Conspiracy theorists warn that the beam could rip a hole in the “membrane” of space-time and converge our world with horrors from alternate dimensions – predictions which, naturally, come to pass.
“The Earth… is gone!”
While the orbiting space station setting may bring to mind the claustrophobia of Alien, a succession of WTF moments brought about by the “shattering of reality” in fact more closely resemble the more out-there concepts in Event Horizon. Paradox injects some guts, horror and violence to spice up the twisty-wisty, timey-wimey abnormalities (some of which are genuinely smart and really mess with the crew’s paranoia), but ultimately this is Event Horizon-lite.
Daniel The Colony Brühl is rather unlikeable as humourless Schmidt, while Chris NT Live: Of Mice and Men O’Dowd brings some grounded humility as Mundy. Otherwise I’m afraid to say I found the cast both forgettable and, particularly early on, rather poor. The film is saved in its middle section by the fun it has messing with the crew via some kooky and head-scratching scenarios, but the resolution to their interstellar troubles feels like rote plot winding-up and the links to the 2008 monster smash tangential. The Cloverfield Paradox tries hard and has flashes of greatness, but it is the weakest of the series to date.
CR@B’s Claw Score: