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The Cloverfield Paradox Review

What are we looking at when it comes to something with Cloverfield in the title? In the ten years since the original film was released, the name Cloverfield has become synonymous with the cryptic and mysterious. An ambitious and opaque marketing campaign culminating in a surprising experience is what the original film was. Because trailers and tv spots revealed nothing, one had the impression that the film was one thing and by the end of the experience it became something else. Given the reputation and the uniqueness of the found footage formatted original, expectations of something surprising might be what you come to the table with. King of what has been called the “mystery box” method of storytelling, JJ Abrams is one of the producers behind this latest offering in the Cloverfield universe. Is that a good thing? If nothing else is it certainly gets butts in seats. Or in this case, it gets people accessing Netflix. Directed by Julius Onah, the film follows the exploits of six astronauts as they work to find sustainable energy in order to save the rest of the world, which is dying out due to lack of resources and food. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is considering how to manage the threat of invasion by the Russians.
After more than two years in space testing the mechanism in the ship that would be instrumental in solving the world’s dire energy crisis, the crew finally gets the closest they’ve ever been. What looks like a promising execution, becomes a disaster that the crew must find their way through. From there, a series of strange things ensue and you begin to wonder how everything will end. The Cloverfield Paradox has several things going for it, which make it a watchable affair. Chiefly, it possesses a strong and diverse cast featuring the likes of David Oyelowow, Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mubatha-Raw, etc. regardless of what the subject matter of this film would be, the fact that the principle actors fully commit to proceedings is a treat. The charming and charismatic Mubatha-Raw is particularly strong. The set design and visuals are impressive. There is a lot being said about how similar that film is to other films where unfortunate incidents occur in space, which is debatable. That said, it manages to present itself as its own entity. Something that might take some mulling over to get behind is the notion of the paradox in the first place. The idea that testing a mechanism with significant power can somehow create a paradox that has random rules where you can lose a limb and feel no pain, things disappear and reappear in the most unlikely places, suddenly monsters and demons and multi-verses and other versions of Earth, or versions of you can cross paths with each other, with nothing to hinge it upon except the explanation of, ‘well, the paradox is the reason this is happening’.
It is a tricky thing to criticize in any story, the mechanics of that world. Who is anyone to say what it should be to make it hold water for an audience to get behind? That is how the storytellers created it. If it were a different way someone else might have told this story. The argument could be made that that mechanics shouldn’t matter as much as the characters because after all the people are who we relate to, not how their world works. Frankly, there are things in the real world, unexplained phenomena that we don’t have a real handle on, so when looking through that particular lens the notion of a paradox driving the proceedings begins to matter less. Looking at The Cloverfield Paradox in connection with the original doesn’t really do much. It should really been seen as a separate piece, because it only ties to the original in providing a loose explanation on why a monster arrived in New York. We know now that it seems there are multiple monsters and perhaps other threats that we don’t see, but that is about it. Overall, a watchable, well-acted situation;  not as bad as it has been made out to be.
  • Strong acting
  • Strong visuals
  • Engaging premise
  • Occasional silly dialogue
  • Idea of the paradox is nearly unbelievable


Meet the Author

About / Bio
Steven Armstrong is an editor and staff writer for Entertainment Fuse's Movie Department. He also is a creative writer of fiction and poetry, an occasional filmmaker and electronic musician who enjoys reading, writing, video games, movies and any good story.

Should you be curious, he can also be found talking about movies for the Center 4 Cinephiles (C4C) on YouTube.

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