Sunday evening’s Super Bowl was full of high stakes and amazing performances. It’s also full of ads; companies spend millions upon millions to concoct a stylistic or exhilarating promo for their products or new films that are coming soon, but Netflix might have just changed the game by dropping a trailer for a film that no one knew about and then released in on their streaming platform an hour later. The film world was shocked, and could change release schedules in the years to come.
The Cloverfield Paradox is the third in a (very) loosely tied together franchise that started way back when in 2008 with the handheld-cam monster flick Cloverfield. The follow-up, 10 Cloverfield Lane took us inside a bunker with 3 characters for a fairly decent psychological thriller. This instalment sends us out to space on a huge space station called Cloverfield where a crew are trying to stabilise a machine that will help the energy problems the world is experiencing on Earth down below. With parallels to our own Hard Collider, the fears that something will go wrong is abundant – and it does. This is where it all goes incredibly weird so brace yourself.
The space station is transported to another dimension (see), and you keep flipping between the original world we came from and this new Earth where the space station has broken up, debris flying back down to the surface. On Original Earth, aliens and monsters have begun cropping up all over (like the first film) while Earth 2 is infested with wars and unrest as people panic from not having enough oil or sustainable energy. There’s extremely weird goings on on the space station itself too, and it’s at this point that you might just try to stop reasoning with anything that’s going on. This is the first major flaw with Paradox because it just really doesn’t make much sense. It’s known that the film was a complete standalone before being brought into the Cloverfield world through script-tweaks. It shows, as the shoehorn attempts to get the story of this original film to fit with the franchise misses so many steps. It’s alluded to that the space station might be the reason for the monsters to be showing up, but then doesn’t compare to any of the previous aliens we’ve seen. So does watching it as a standalone help? Sort of – this film is more comparable to a Black Mirror-esque tagalong where the weird and wonderful takes over reality and facts.
Saving the sinking ship is the cast, with Chris O’Dowd and Gugu Mbatha-Raw being the MVP’s and fully committing to what wasn’t a lot of material to start with, nor any scientific realism that makes any sense. Character development is thin on the ground, but the relationships between them keep the pace of the story moving forward that means you probably will make it to the end of the movie. Inevitably with this kind of film, characters begin to be picked off and it’s nice to see most of the deaths are original rather than the standard ‘lost in space’ stereotypes you’re used to. Some of the lines, especially from O’Dowd, tips to the side of this being a comedy, and the film could have been more successful if the filmmakers went more down this route. Since Scary Movie, there’s a feeling that throwing ample amounts of comedy into a horror will result in a joke, but it could have been the genre-bending push that the Cloverfield franchise could have taken to really make it unique, instead of channelling a more traditional Space-Horror.
With The Cloverfield Paradox, it keeps coming back to the fact that this is a Netflix movie. Paramount Pictures sold the rights to the company and got it out as fast as possible with no theatrical release. It’s an interesting move, and although we’re now used to shock releases in music and TV, film is a new one. The teasers, trailers, guest spots on interview shows and the like come hand in hand with big blockbusters, so this is new territory for films. The film is not the worst I’ve seen in the last year, but it definitely wouldn’t have faired will in cinemas neither here nor across the pond. It was a smart move from J.J. Abrams to get it out quickly to avoid hearsay and critics, and fits perfectly with Netflix’s ethos of seeing new content without paying more for it and, even better, not leaving the house. Don’t expect much from this movie, but give it a spin on your next hungover weekend.