So I was all ready to make a review of “End of the F**cking World” when all of a sudden on Super Bowl Sunday, Netflix went ahead and dropped the third installment in the Cloverfield film series, “The Cloverfield Paradox.”
The Cloverfield franchise has always had unusual methods of advertising their films: not putting a title on their first trailers, putting out trailers only two to three months before release, and now releasing a film immediately after it was announced. From day one the franchise has always exuded this aura of mystery, especially with easter eggs and hidden secrets planted for film detectives to find. Fake websites, secret codes, and hidden satellites have all been a part of an average day for Cloverfield fans since 2008.
Sadly though, I have to admit that compared to the previous installments, “The Cloverfield Paradox” is a bit of a let down, despite only having a buildup of three hours at most. But let’s start off with the positive aspects of the film because there are quite a few.
All of the performances are superb across the board, especially Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the lead character, Ava. She plays a woman dealing with an insane amount of baggage which, as it’s revealed, explains why she makes the decisions she does throughout the course of the film. The production design and sci-fi imagery is all phenomenal, creating a high tech yet claustrophobic environment that makes you feel as trapped as the protagonists. The imagery is high quality and very disturbing, effectively eye-catching and repelling at the same time, especially when it comes to the fates of some of the characters. This, as a whole, could have made for a simple yet effective science fiction and horror hybrid that would’ve sent people home happy. So what went wrong?
Any problems with this film can be attributed to how it clumsily tries to include itself in the mythos of the Cloverfield Universe or “Clover-Verse” as fans have taken to calling it in online circles. This is where I, the critic, fall into a difficult position. I am not going to spoil the film as I am always advocate my readers to go see these films for themselves. So I will only allude to certain things, not any specifics.
This film seems to claim it takes place at the same time as the first film and might have been the direct cause of what went down in that film— whether or not it connects to “10 Cloverfield Lane” in any way is still up in the air. Several scenes and alternate takes were inserted into this film to connect it as much as possible to the franchise as a whole, but it honestly doesn’t work. The film even ends with such a blatant reveal that is impossible not to see what the filmmakers are trying to say. All in all, one of the most clumsy attempts at universe building in recent cinema history.
I’d be curious to see the original version of this film, known as “The God Particle,” to see how it would function without all the extraneous Clover-Verse additions. Would it have fared any better in my eyes?
Despite this, the film isn’t horrible, just clumsy and somewhat confusing. The fact that it’s on Netflix means you won’t be paying theatrical ticket prices to see it. So if you have a Netflix account and need to kill two hours, this is not the worst way to do so, but it’s certainly nowhere near the best.