The Cloverfield Paradox marks the third entry in the the Cloverfield Anthology Franchise and continues the trend of changing up the setting, the tone, and the genre enough to where it very believably feels like a Cloverfield movie, but also nothing like a Cloverfield movie. Directed by Julius Onah, this appeared out of nowhere on Netflix following a cinema release date pushback and recent rumours of it moving to Netflix….. It was like Christmas came early (or late). Now that it has arrived it may not be as incredible as I’d hoped but it’s yet another fairly strong entry to this always changing franchise. The plot follows a team of scientific researchers aboard a space station who experiment with a particle accelerator and as expected, not all goes to plan. It successfully changes the game by adopting the sci-fi horror genre and does have some fresh new ideas that it presents, but, it also does fall into the trap of exploring some of the painfully familiar tropes often seen in the space-set survival genre.
This entry sits predominantly in the sci-fi survival horror genre and when the film embraces this it is undoubtedly at its best. I was so damn intrigued for much of this movie because of the level of creativeness in the variety of ways the horror is delivered. The build up to these horrific events is executed very well and the tone throughout the first and second acts is very consistent and I was fully locked in. Aside from one unnecessary jump-scare I was on the edge of my seat throughout every scare and found myself thoroughly entertained by what was waiting around every corner. But even this movie which tries to be as different and original as it can manages to retreat back to the cliche space survival tropes that plague the genre. The majority of these moments lie in the third act which is where the majority of all of the problems reside. For some odd reason it shifts away from the horror elements and towards a more action-oriented tone that was quite jarring. I stopped at one point and was genuinely confused by the fact that the horror was gone. I don’t understand the decision because it was tracking so well up to that point but it closes out with a very generic third act which should have been executed much better.
It boasts a cast of familiar names including Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, and John Ortiz among others who make up the team of scientists aboard the space station. All or most of the actors and actresses involved I feel bring enough to their characters to make most of them entertaining in their own individual ways. The ones who don’t such as Ziyi Zhang aren’t able to simply because their character isn’t given many meaningful things to do. Also not at the fault of the actors is that some of the dialogue is pretty shabby and poorly written. The delivery from the performers does help to sell the dialogue a little more but even then some of it is just still not convincing. There are a couple of well executed moments of levity in here delivered by O’Dowd that actually work quite a bit and made me laugh.
In the end this is overall an enjoyable film and a good entry into the Cloverfield Anthology Franchise. It excels the most when it is focusing strictly on the horror elements and the weird sci-fi happenings as it locks you in and keeps up the suspense for some time. It’s just unfortunate that it couldn’t ride this tone out to the end as it would have been an incredible movie if it did. If you want to stay up to date with the Cloverfield Anthology films then I suggest definitely check this out. There is a bit about this movie that I cannot mention due to spoilers but I will cover that in a spoiler section.