By midlandsmovies, Feb 5 2018 09:21PM
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) Dir.Julius Onah
The third film spawned from the sci-fi world created in the JJ Abrams-produced Cloverfield series is here and arrived on Netflix on 5th February 2018 without so much as a trailer in what I described on Twitter a week earlier as one of the more interesting promotional campaigns currently out there.
What the Cloverfield ‘project-helmers’ are doing (it’s difficult to call them filmmakers or a studio given its fractured nature) appears to be twisting the cinematic-universe idea in a far more interesting direction than the Disney behemoths. As a lesser-known and less financially risky franchise name, Cloverfield can take more chances and is all the better for doing so. In this latest film, Nigerian-American filmmaker Julius Onah takes on his first big project and mostly delivers a slice of silly b-movie fun as someone new to Hollywood.
After a rather mundane opening car conversation between Ava Hamilton played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, Miss. Sloane) and her husband Michael (played by Roger Davies), the film sees her leaving him and Earth behind as she joins a crew aboard an orbiting space station. With the planet on the brink of war as they face a disastrous energy crisis, the international crew (who stereotypically represent the most powerful nations on earth) are working on a particle accelerator experiment to create endless energy and thus save the world.
As expected, this fails to go to plan as their accelerator malfunctions and they are warned of a “Cloverfield Paradox" – a by-product of messing around with space-time which could lead to the opening of other dimensions and whatever lies within. Before they know it they have “lost” Earth and strange events begin to occur from gravitational anomalies to the appearance of a mysterious woman who is revealed ‘embedded’ within power cables in a gruesome mash-up akin to Seth Brundle at the end of The Fly.
The film doesn’t take itself super seriously with (hopefully knowingly) creaky dialogue and a smattering of broad humour (mainly from the IT Crowd’s Chris O’ Dowd) whilst the tensions on the ship come from the rest of the crew who can’t fully understand their predicament which includes David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Aksel Hennie and Zhang Ziyi.
Speaking of those films, this one follows Michael’s side-story back on Earth where he eventually gets involved with the exploits of the monster attack in New York from the first film. This again tries to avoid avoids the problems of Marvel’s continuity complexities by simply alluding to familiar sequences and the permeating themes of their established world.
As I’ve said previously it’s great to see Netflix pump money into supporting these mid-budget films as only a few years ago films like this (Event Horizon, The Sphere and Sunshine etc) would have been given cinema releases.
It’s far from original, nabbing bits and bobs from a variety of seen-it-before sci-fi films, but it also reminded me of the excellent The Mist in a few ways. This was especially noticeable where monsters come through a portal into our world through a science experiment gone awry – which ironically ‘demystifies’ some of the unknowing tension the previous Cloverfield films had which was a shame.
Along with this, the usual mix of space explosions, air-locks and fixing internal systems are present but the characters (although one dimensional) are likeable and the grisly deaths spice up the visuals when needed.
With a splatter of PG-friendly body horror and a couple of interesting sequences, it’s a film more along the lines of 2017’s uninspired LIFE than it is Alien. And although the second movie is probably the best "film", the other two are sillier but perhaps more enjoyably so. With that said, from the interesting use of space tech including nano-bot Polyfilla (yes, really!) and a set of unchallenging b-movie thrills, the movie serves as an adequate Saturday night slice of ‘armless sci-fi.
Midlands Movies Mike