From director Julius Onah The Cloverfield Paradox came as a surprise to many when it was rushed straight to Netflix, and boy, what an unpleasant surprise.
This paradoxical story follows a group of scientists aboard a ship attempting to gain unlimited energy for Earth from a particle accelerator in space, despite not knowing whether it will work or what it will do.
Words don’t begin to describe how much I shuddered at this film’s glaring problems. Blatant plot-holes, weak jokes, and stale dialogue were a common theme throughout this arduous film. Within the first 5 minutes we get heavy signals that small details were being overlooked – from illogical moments in the story, to first-grade science being thrown out the window, and characters being also set up in a completely bizarre fashion. It didn’t take long for me to realise the flaws in this film not only stay consistent, but escalate as the film continues. As the film progressed the plot holes and inaccuracies built, eventually getting to a point where it became obvious that the writers and director felt a little in over their heads. This film feels like they needed to write a sci-fi but nobody quite knew how far they should go, so they decided to do literally every crazy nonsensical thing they could think of. The real beauty of the first two Cloverfield films was that they were simple in relative narrative structure and attached only a few elements to the film to surprise audiences.
Performances here were sub-par across the board, the lead actress portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw does a fine job as the films primary focus. The lack of interesting characters for audiences to latch onto doesn’t help the enjoyment level as you’re following this seemingly inane storyline. The comic relief was nearly unbearable at times and the antagonist type characters were no better. Character communication became laughable, like the Chinese astronaut speaking her own language to everyone, expecting they understand. The poor writing didn’t help these actors do any better than they could regardless of how many crazy plot twists they decided to force in.
Visually this film does just fine, it even manages to bring forth some perfectly good quality shots set in space, but from the interior shots we get a view of dull lighting, cheap looking production design, and uneventful camera-work; eventually it begins to blur into one image. The editing mixed with its bland cinematography was extremely lackluster and only offered up basic shots with very standard cuts – it was a slab of meat without flavour. The film shines the most in its score, with the appropriate music to fit most scenarios. I noticed that the music is probably this film’s strongest asset, and is one of the few elements that is clearly a cut above the rest.
This film isn’t the worst movie ever made or the worst sci-fi of the year, but director Julius Onah clearly has no delicate care for the genre and was willing to work with shock value over authenticity. It’s a boring trend that never seems to die. Tangling itself in as many plot twists as it can physically handle, The Cloverfield Paradox is as narratively suffocating as it is bloated in generic sci-fi tropes.