The Cloverfield franchise's marketing stunts have served it well for the previous movies. Before the original Cloverfield film was released, the filmmakers put out a teaser trailer with no title attached, spurring media speculations over its plot. Meanwhile, 10 Cloverfield Lane also garnered attention with its surprise announcement, and its trailer didn't exactly reveal what the movie was about.
The same goes for the latest entry in the film saga, The Cloverfield Paradox. Announced at the recently held Super Bowl only to be released on Netflix a few hours later, it got people scrambling for an internet connection so that they can watch the third entry and finally get answers to the mystery surrounding the film franchise.
It was another great marketing stunt. Too bad the film itself fell short.
The year is 2028 and the Earth is in the midst of an energy crisis. To explore a possible solution, a team of experts was sent to space in order to test a particle accelerator, which would provide the Earth infinite energy if successful. Part of this crew is protagonist Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and other international members like Kiel (David Oyelowo), Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl), Mundy (Chris O'Dowd), and Tam (Zhang Ziyi).
After several attempts, the accelerator seemingly works, but the crew realizes they've transported themselves to another dimension, and weird things start to happen. All logic is thrown out of the window, as the crew mysteriously finds another person trapped in the ship's walls, the entire Earth disappears from orbit, and Mundy's arm cleanly detaches from his body like a mannequin.
The film explains the strange phenomenon as multiple realities trying to occupy a single space. Ironically, it feels like the movie itself was made in a similar manner. It's just a sequence of totally unrelated events put together. Some events serve no purpose in the plot, while others are there to set up plot devices for later moments.
The Cloverfield Paradox also cannot decide whether it wants to be emotional or funny, so the final output just seems like an awkward mess. On one hand, we're supposed to feel sympathy towards Ava because of a family tragedy that follows her all the way in space. However, instances such as the absurdity of encountering a disembodied arm with a mind of its own somehow throws you off.
It's a wasted potential for such a talented cast. Their characters are either lazily written or they were made to be dumb on purpose. Even after a handful of devastating outcomes, the characters flock towards the first signs of danger without thought. Aside from Ava, there is not much character depth to grasp from the other members of the crew. This makes it hard for the audience to root for them as each of them face his or her fate.
While the film fills in certain holes regarding the whole franchise, it's a not a movie worth watching should it function as a standalone. The enigma that made the first two Cloverfield films so interesting sadly cannot be found in this one. Basically, you'll just watch it because you want to find out more about the Cloverfield universe. So, despite its surprise element, The Cloverfield Paradox is an underwhelming entry in a franchise surrounded in intrigue.