The Cloverfield Paradox
Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi
…a fairly routine sci-fi thriller where most of the scenes tend to work as single units, but don’t connect together nearly as well as they should…
It’s the near future and our energy resources are stretched so thin that sabre-rattling seems certain to break out into all-out war over dwindling oil supplies. On an orbiting space station, a pan-national crew of scientists are working on a particle accelerator that could, in theory, provide the world with limitless free energy. Unfortunately, after two years of turning it off and on again, they haven’t managed to get the thing to work.
A final attempt seems to succeed, but overloads the station’s power systems. When things are returned to normal, the crew find that the planet Earth has seemingly vanished – only the first of a series of inexplicable and gradually more terrifying events. It seems that the activation of the accelerator has had unforeseen and dangerous effects – can they reverse the damage? And more importantly, what’s going on back on Earth?
Developed as a discrete project originally titled The God Particle before being folded into Bad Robot’s Cloverfield brand, The Cloverfield Project is a fairly generic sci-fi thriller that manages to hold the attention without ever threatening to do anything fresh or unique with its scenario. It’s interesting to speculate whether being retooled to fit into JJ Abrams’ loosely connected franchise was a benefit or a detriment to the film, but it’s probably the latter – the identifiable “Cloverfield” elements don’t add much to the proceedings, and you’ve got to wonder what, if anything, was excised to make room for them.
What we’ve got is a fairly routine sci-fi thriller where most of the scenes tend to work as single units, but don’t connect together nearly as well as they should, and don’t lead anywhere worth going. The Mystery Box, in this case, is empty, and attempts to hint at larger enigmas don’t mean much when the audience knows this is a retrofit, and not a planned exploration of whatever the Cloverfield Universe is (does anyone actually care?).
Still, along the way you get a few interesting kills, the odd impressively rendered special effect, a bit of business with a severed arm that can still move around, and a game and familiar cast (Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, Zhang Ziyi) who are much, much better than the material they’ve been given to work with – not that there’s anything wrong with a bit of genre slumming from time to time.
A lot of digital ink has already been spilled about the marketing of The Cloverfield Paradox, and that’s all well and good, but this is about what the movie itself is worth – and that’s a hundred minutes of your time if you’re feeling forgiving and are a fan of the genre. That’s it – there’s nothing else to see here.