When it comes to sci-fi, I prefer simple and sophisticated. Something that The Cloverfield Paradox could have been but was not. The potential was there and the cast was there. Yet the movie decided to complicate matters by adding more and more elements. By the end it muddles itself into a very mediocre sci-fi movie in a franchise where 10 Cloverfield Lane is still the strongest entry.
When the wave of excitement hit Estonia, The Cloverfield Paradox had already been on Netflix for hours. People had seen it, bloggers had seen it – so I knew it was bad before I watched it. Having my expectations low should have helped the movie out. Instead, it added to the disappointment, scene after scene, and I was literally rewriting the script in my head. And you know what? My version of The Cloverfield Paradox could have been pretty fucking good!
First of all, no Earth scenes! That whole back story to Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) served no purpose, and the movie would have worked better without it. The entire plot should have happened in space. Similar to 10 Cloverfield Lane, the whole connection to the Cloverfield Universe should have remained unspoken. The title is a connection enough. Not to mention, the mission this crew was apparently on, should have been a mystery up until the third act. Why are they trying to make this machine work? What is their goal? All interesting questions to raise in the first half, and answer later on. Instead, The Cloverfield Paradox explains everything while everything happens. No mystery, no suspense – and we got ourselves a very dull movie.
“… somewhere in the middle, I lost all interest”
The worst thing about the movie is the fact that Chris O’Down is so underused! I actually want to cry about how underused he is here. O’Dowd, who is charismatic and has tons of screen presence, is almost unnoticeable in The Cloverfield Paradox. Except when he loses his arm, but novelty of that situation is quickly forgotten. To make matters worse – the entire cast feels distant and passionless. That in turn makes the entire movie feel cold. Most importantly, it makes the deaths unemotional and I couldn’t care less about any of these characters. Reason why I won’t even mention the rest of the cast – there is no point to them, so there is no need to mention them.
Well, then there was the end-game. What even happened? I could not tell you because somewhere in the middle I lost all interest. But the movie did try to spice my experience by showing me the monster at the end. I didn’t like that at all. I would have preferred the movie to spend that CGI money on something else, like sprucing up the space ship a little. And while showing us the pod falling into the clouds, they should have just have kept the monster’s roar. Hearing it, and not seeing it, would have been more effective.
Finally, I do want to say that The Cloverfield Paradox truly had potential. That potential is sadly hidden under many layers of bad movie making. The script is far from finished, the cast is wasted (there are too many characters to begin with), and there is nothing original about it. But I will say this, because I have to explain my two cup rating – O’Dowd was good, and the diversity of the cast was admirable.4