Posted Feb 06 2018

The Cloverfield Paradox - This Surprise Netflix/Abrams Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: Julius Onah

Starring Gugo Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, CHris O'Dowd, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, John Ortiz, Ziyi Zhang

The way JJ’s latest Cloverfield arrived was extremely cool. Not only was its Super Bowl spot the reveal of its actual title and launch date – it also pulled the rug out by letting us know the whole movie was available to watch on Netflix straight after the game ended. (Imagine Solo doing that!) A definite coup – we tip our hats to both JJ and Netflix. But, sadly, not to the film itself.

The Cloverfield Project is a movie that lacks the grace and tension of its two predecessors, and instead offers up a collection of Alien-esque, trapped in a haunted house in space clichés, mixed in with a fair amount of plain nonsense. And gone, for the most part, are the monsters, thus diluting the Cloverfield brand even further. (Although to be fair, the inter-dimensional schisms created by the Cloverfield station may be seen to be some form of explanation for that giant beast showing up in New York and taking down Liberty’s head a decade ago.)

It’s a strong cast – Mbatha-Raw and Bruhl dominating, with O’Dowd holding up his own vaguely comedic end. Director Onah manages to create some tense moments, but his film (and script) too often fails to create or follow its own internal logic. Ultimately, this Cloverfield is very disappointing, more so in light of the previous unexpected 10 Cloverfield Place, which succinctly managed to reinvent the brand and create a superb cat and mouse game of escalating fear and tension. This by comparison drifts away into its own dimension – and a very messy, unsatisfying place that proves to be.

Full marks to JJ and co for keeping things secret, and pulling off a cool surprise. But, having now seen said surprise, maybe secret was the way to go after all.

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