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Movie Review: THE HYPE FALLS FLAT IN “THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | Review

by SHANNON McGREW

Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo and Daniel Brühl
Directed by Julius Onah
Written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung
Bad Robot/Netflix

This past Sunday was supposed to be just like any other Sunday. Sure, the Super Bowl was on, sure my home-team, the Patriots, were playing (no I was not rooting for them), but to me it was just a normal Sunday. I had decided to watch some of the commercials to break up my day of movie watching and as I stared at my television screen, something remarkable happened. A commercial started with clips from CLOVERFIELD and before I could even comprehend what was happening, a trailer was dropping for the third film in the franchise with the tagline “Coming Very Soon…” Shortly after the horror world exploded with excitement it was confirmed that Netflix would be releasing THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX as soon as the Super Bowl ended. My mind was blown.

Let me start off by saying I am a huge fan of the CLOVERFIELD series (look for my retrospective coming soon), so as soon as the Super Bowl ended, I informed my boyfriend that we were cancelling everything so as to watch the latest installment in the series. THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX follows a team of scientists sent to space to solve an energy crisis that could save the world which is on the brink of war. However, in their quest to retrieve energy, they unknowingly open an alternate reality which forever changes their lives and the fate of humanity. The film is directed by Nigerian born director Julius Onah and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw (BELLE), David Oyelowo (SELMA), Daniel Brühl (THE ALIENIST), John Ortiz (KONG: SKULL ISLAND), and Chris O’Dowd (BRIDESMAIDS).

As much as it pains me to say this, THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX is not a great movie; however it’s also not as terrible as everyone is making it out to be. I enjoy an origin story, so from that standpoint I was definitely sucked into the story from the beginning. I wanted to know how the events in CLOVERFIELD came to be, and in PARADOX we were given some insight into that. Where the film falls apart, though, is in the story. About halfway through the film, it becomes incredibly convoluted with its fair share of plot holes and overlapping dimensions. It got to a point where I turned to my boyfriend and asked him what exactly was going on, which is embarrassing in and of itself since I’m the CLOVERFIELD fan. Between what was happening in space and what was happening on Earth and what was happening in alternate realities, I found myself way more confused than I needed to be. By the end of the movie, THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX felt less like a CLOVERFIELD addition and more like a hybrid between LIFE and ALIEN: COVENANT.

Where the film did shine though was in the acting and overall presentation. The characters were solid and each had their unique quirks which lent themselves to pushing the film along. I’m a huge fan of Daniel Brühl and Chris O’Dowd so I was immediately attracted to their characters, Schmidy and Mundy, and I enjoyed O’Dowd’s comic relief throughout. Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, Hamilton, was used to play on our heart strings and it worked while David Oyelowo played the headstrong and fearless captain, Kiel. In terms of cinematography, THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX was beautiful to look at thanks to director of photography Dan Mindel and in regards to the score, composed by Bear McCreary it played brilliantly against the unfolding story.

I could go on and on about the pros and cons of this movie, but what I think is really important to mention is how these sequels came to be. Its common knowledge that the producers find a script that can work within their idea of the CLOVERFIELD universe and by doing so they make a few alterations to it and then slap the CLOVERFIELD name to it. I truly believe that is the reason why PARADOX fell flat. In building the universe of CLOVERFIELD one needs to come up with a story that directly correlates with the other films instead of picking from a pile of existing scripts that have nothing to do with the franchise you are building. If producers continue to go this route I fear that they will lose the fandom that has been created by those of us who really love what CLOVERFIELD has given us.

Overall, I didn’t hate THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX, I just expected more. I give props to the marketing team for dropping the film like they did, but I hope in the future, the producers/directors/writers take more care in forming a story that directly relates to the true nature of CLOVERFIELD. I’m glad we got THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX as it did answer some gnawing questions that I had, and I absolutely loved the ending, even though it felt like an afterthought. If rumors are true, we should be getting another CLOVERFIELD film in the near future, and I just hope that this time, it lives up to the hype.