If there’s one thing that separates J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield franchise from the rest, it’s their singularly unique & groundbreaking viral marketing game. Cloverfield created its entire buzz from an expertly edited teaser which intrigued the filmgoing audience so much that their countless theories & discussions inadvertently generated all the pre-release publicity the film needed. Back in 2016, another bomb was dropped when 10 Cloverfield Lane appeared out of nowhere and went on to create the same firestorm.
But the marketing strategy for this third Cloverfield film outdoes them both. After all, its existence was known to the public, its release date kept fluctuating, and its trailer was expected. What wasn’t anticipated was the fact that the film would be available for viewing just hours after its trailer went live. Unfortunately, this game-changing marketing also happens to be the most memorable thing about this newest addition, for The Cloverfield Paradox is an awfully written sci-fi horror that not only takes liberties with science but also deletes logic & common sense from the equation.
Set in a futuristic world where Earth’s energy resources are almost depleted and the entire planet is on the brink of war, The Cloverfield Paradox follows an international crew aboard a space station who are tasked to operate a device that can solve Earth’s energy dilemma forever, if it works. Orbiting for two years with failed attempts, the team finally makes the device work but only momentarily as it soon overloads and causes a power surge. When basic power is restored, they discover that Earth has completely disappeared from their view. To make things worse, strange things begin to occur on the station.
Directed by Julius Onah, The Cloverfield Paradox ties into the Cloverfield universe quite nicely and does offer an explanation regarding the events that transpired in previous entries but its own story is downright muddled. It begins with a promise of better things to come but never gets there. What we have instead is a mishmash of different genres, cliched narrative, cardboard characters, stupid dialogue & a whole barrage of absurd twists that make no sense whatsoever in retrospect. So many weird things happen in the story but since the writers fail to back it up with a credible explanation, it’s all rendered useless.
The issue isn’t the far-fetched events that end up defining many characters’ fates but the contrived nature of it. Sure the movie deals with the concept of multiverse & alternate dimensions so freaky incidents are expected but even that doesn’t make up for the sort of things that unfold here. It’s not complaint-free in other aspects either. Characters are dull, dumb & depthless. Not even one of them packs a compelling arc. And those awful dialogues really expose the uninspired writing. Performances aren’t any good, for the entire cast fails to make us invest in their characters’ predicament. The claustrophobic element never sets in, thanks to its lame camerawork while the absent-minded editing leaves its plot a convoluted mess till the end.
On an overall scale, The Cloverfield Paradox is disappointing on more levels than one and fails to make the most of its inventive marketing. An end product of shoddy direction, inept writing & mediocre performances, it is undeniably the weakest chapter of the Cloverfield saga and fails at even the basic aspects of storytelling. Ill-conceived, inconsistently paced & ineffectively executed, the fact that it premiered on Netflix instead of a getting a proper theatrical release is actually a blessing. All in all, the concept is an interesting one but the filmmakers are unable to weave a compact & compelling structure around it. So the more you try to connect the dots to make sense of it all, the more infuriating your experience will be. At least it’s free with your Netflix subscription. The only thing you risk is your precious time.