The Cloverfield franchise has found success in the past with its small-scale accounts of an alien invasion, but sadly this attempt at launching into more ambitious sci-fi territory falls flat on its face. The Cloverfield Paradox lacks all the thrills and tension of the previous two films and totally squanders an interesting premise.
From the very first scene something feels off. Gone is the naturalistic dialogue of 10 Cloverfield Lane, in favour of an awkward conversation between two characters who talk exclusively in melodramatic cliches. They tell us that the world is facing an unprecedented energy crisis, but the movie fails to show us any of the harrowing effects this would have (aside from a dimly lit queue outside a petrol station).
The action then moves to outer space, where the crew of a space station have been trying for roughly two years to create renewable energy with a particle accelerator. The team of astronauts is made up of a number of familiar archetypes including comic relief man, decoy evil person, actual evil person and lady who misses her family.
Unfortunately, even a cast that includes such talents as Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo and Daniel Bruhl can’t make this stuff interesting. Chris O’Dowd is particularly bad, delivering a number of excruciating punchlines that are neither funny nor appropriate given the apparently desperate circumstances.
The set design is equally bland, presenting a space station so sterile and devoid of personality that it’s hard to believe people have been living on it for two years. Combined with the complete lack of style and creativity to Julius Onah’s directing, the movie ultimately ends up becoming a chore.
It’s a great shame because there was certainly potential to the film’s high concept premise. Incorporating a number of science-fiction ideas, it gradually devolves into a mess of unfulfilling plot resolutions and people running around explaining what they need to do and why.
Interspersed between the main narrative is a dull subplot set on Earth which seems completely irrelevant for the majority of the runtime, before being exposed as shameless fan service in the final minute.
Despite a superb cast and interesting premise, The Cloverfield Paradox is only noteworthy for how spectacularly it drops the ball for this once-promising franchise.