Monday, February 5, 2018

The Cloverfield Paradox Netflix Movie Review

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Watch The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix
Written by:  Oren Uziel, Doug Jung (screenplay)
Directed by: Julius Onah
Starring:  Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo, Chris O'Dowd, Elizabeth Debicki
Rated: TV-MA
Watch the trailer 

Ten years ago some thing arrived, now we find out why in the Cloverfield prequel. Planet Earth is on the brink of war as scientists test a device to solve the energy crisis and end up facing a dark alternate reality.

This jumps into the story quickly and doesn't relent. If you've seen Cloverfield, you know the result of this mission, but that isn't the focus. This incorporates a few sci-fi tropes, but doesn't rely on them. It pulls you into the mystery of what happened, and once you figure it out, you follow the characters as they try to fix it. While I wish this did more to develop the characters, that's not the focus. This is basically a space action movie. More than a few images are going to stick with you after this concludes. Many of Netflix's movies feel like studio rejects, but this one doesn't. It's not going to redefine the genre, but it's a solid dose of sci-fi.
Watch it.

Originally titled The God Particle, this is part of J.J. Abrams loose trilogy including found footage style disaster movie Cloverfield (2008) and  post apocalypse set 10 Cloverfiled Lane (2016), though 10 Cloverfiled Laneis a part of the trilogy in name only - read my 10 Cloverfield Lane review.

Like 10 Cloverfiled Lane this came out of no where. Netflix was rumored to be in negotiations for this film last week and a trailer debuting during Super Bowl LII reveals it's coming immediately after the game. Netflix succeeded in creating hype.

Earth is in crisis. An energy shortage has pitted countries against each other, the brink of war imminent. A group of seven astronauts from different countries are on a mission to test a particle accelerator that could potentially fix the crisis, but are testing it in space first due to the sheer power and the havoc it could wreak if it doesn't work as intended.
This gives us a scene up front to establish the state of the world that and Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) left her family behind for the mission. Then we're in space and tension is high among the crew as the accelerator hasn't worked and time is running out. We're treated to some foreshadowing while a news transmission plays in the background of the ship. An author claims the accelerator is so powerful it could rip a hole in space time and unleash monsters and alter time. If you've seen Cloverfield you know what happens. The movie knows this and pivots into space horror territory.

The crew tests the accelerator again and while it seems successful, something goes wrong. They can't find Earth or receive/transmit. Are their instruments broken, were they thrown across the galaxy, or are they in another dimension?

While 10 Cloverfield Lane explored a slow, brooding tension and uncertainty, Paradox isn't far from a haunted house type space station. While it's not super natural, you get a lot of weird what is that sound happenings. It's intense in a completely different way. Cloverfield Lane is the better movie.

There is a lot of crew running across the ship as different crew members venture off alone and then scream for help. What's happening aboard the ship defies logic. At times this feels like an attempt a modern day Alien (1979). You watch this wondering, when you're going to see 'it', the creatures from the first movie. Paradox leverages that to great effect. This even gets into some body horror. It's not gory, just unsettling. In one scene, the Russian is looking into the mirror after having complained his face feels funny. Examining his eye, it suddenly darts to the right. There's something strange about one eye facing forward and the other so far to the right, and that's just the start.

The movie has such a high level of craziness. The crew is bewildered, and I wondered if this was going to go Event Horizon (1997) as there seems to be an other side, but everything weird is hand waved away with the crew saying, 'Don't try to explain it, this world has no logic.'
So few movies are truly unpredictable, and this manages to achieve that as a prequel. We know the ultimate outcome, but we don't know what happens on this ship. Getting there is a ride. I also like that the 'villain' isn't crazy just for the plot like in Sunshine (2007), the antagonist's reasoning is sound. This wraps up with a direct lead in to Cloverfield.

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