The Cloverfield Paradox doesn’t really live up to the hype the franchise has had, or seems worth how much Netflix likely paid, but can be enjoyable.
|Screenplay By||Oren Uziel, Doug Jung|
|Genre(s)||Action, Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller|
|Ava Hamilton||Gugu Mbatha-Raw|
|Commander Kiel||David Oyelowo|
|Acosta “Monk”||John Ortiz|
|Mina Jensen||Elizabeth Debicki|
In an undisclosed year, we learn Earth, not just any particular country, is experiencing an energy crisis. One in which, within 5 years, all resources will be gone. Hence the creation of the Shepard in space. A multi-national project which is supposed to produce a multitude of teravolts and power the entire world. However, for many years, the project fails over and over. But, once they get it right, they find themselves in another dimension and on the other side of the solar system.
Thus leading to the heart of the story. How will Commander Kiel; the maintenance guy Mundy; Schmidt and Tam, who handle the Shephard; Volkov, who handles life support systems; and Acosta “Monk” who is the station’s doctor, get back to their dimension, their Earth? Especially taking note of all the strange things happening thanks to them crossing over to another dimension. Which includes a new member to their ship, a woman from this dimension’s Cloverfield station named Jensen.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Why is it that other dimensions are always horrible places?
It Gets You Emotionally Invested
One of the things most sci-fi productions I’ve seen fail at, is making you feel connected to any cast member. Dr. this, Commander that, them being a mom, dad, having a cat at home, what have you, it didn’t really matter. It was added for cheap sympathy but never went beyond feeling shallow.
However, be it because I’m a fan of Gugu Mbatha-Raw or her talents just speak for themselves, even though we don’t see her interact with Michael much, and only see her with her kids in video screens on walls, there is this connection made. One in which, when they go to the other dimension and she learns her kids are alive there, so begins a rare conflict.
In most productions when people go to a different dimension, usually it is a horrible place you try to escape from or feels so foreign that you’d not want to stay. However, for Ava, Mbatha-Raw’s character, her kids are alive there and it presents a rare problem – since so few women get to be the lead in sci-fi films like these. While she does have a husband back home, and one in this dimension, the kids just exist in the foreign dimension. Can she be willing to sacrifice her husband in the other dimension to see her kids once more? It won’t affect the rest of the crew getting home or her own dimension getting the power it needs. All that would happen is she wouldn’t return.
And what that presents is a character in a sci-fi film with a more compelling conflict than what most have. Yes, she is dealing with a race against time but it isn’t just a do or die situation. The ship isn’t about to explode or nothing like that. The decision is whether to see the children she killed accidentally, just by siphoning power to keep them comfortable or to return home and live with the guilt.
Also, It Pushes You To Watch The Other Movies – Despite Knowing Gugu Mbatha-Raw and her family aren’t in them
With the way the film ends, for those, like me, who didn’t check out the rest of the Cloverfield movies, it would push you to wonder if Mbatha-Raw was in the rest to see if she and Michael ever were reunited. Maybe even had kids and found some sort of happiness. Alas, this is her first movie in the franchise and who knows if she may be in the currently titled “Overlord” sequel.
Yet, despite Mbatha-Raw not being in the films released before this, just taking note of the summaries of the other films, and seeing who is in them, it does push you to want a full view of what happened. This film likely covers just the beginning, so comes the need to understand the soon after and what came next.
The Other Characters Receive No Real Development
Be it Commander Kiel or anyone else you name, we don’t know what life is for them back on Earth. We know that Volkov strongly identifies as Russian and Schmidt isn’t trusted because he is German, but that’s about it. All they do is push info about the conflicts going on the surface and exhibit why the various things that happen to the station are a big deal in terms of getting home and giving the world the power it needs.
But, as for their relationships with people on Earth, even their interpersonal relationships, there isn’t any real establishments of friendships, maybe love affairs, or any sense that these people do more than their jobs and then want to be left alone. For while, yes, they may play foosball with one another, there aren’t conversations about their lives, hobbies, or nothing. Something that may be realistic in modern space programs, but addressing that reality doesn’t work well for a movie. Especially if they want you to get invested in fictional characters over the course of nearly two hours. Much less care when their lives are in danger.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
Clearly, I’m biased, but not so biased to pretend Gugu Mbatha-Raw carries this movie to be worth seeing. In fact, I’d argue that if this film was released in a traditional way, it would probably be a blemish on the franchise. For while it does well in getting you to be invested in Ava Hamilton, it doesn’t necessarily make you want to see everything else that happened, including the Cloverfield monster. You’ll be curious, especially in hopes that the next film might feature Ava, but with no promise of that, and judging this film as just a thin prequel, like Rogue One, to explain in an hour and a half what could have been done in a 15 minute short. Similar to the Blade Runner: Blackout 2022 production.
Leading to why this is being labeled Mixed. I do think unless you are a big fan of the franchise or one of the actors, you’ll think Netflix pulled a bait and switch on you. One in which, once more, they proved how good their marketing department can be in making sure they get that initial pop, while seriously not caring about any and all criticism which follows. Just as long as their subscriber counts rocket up.