The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Release Date: February 4th, 2018 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Julius Onah Actors: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Ziyi Zhang, Aksel Hennie, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies, Donal Logue

 


 

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arth is in an energy crisis, forcing rations and blackouts across the world as supplies are rapidly depleted. During this catastrophe, Communications Officer Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her boyfriend Michael (Roger Davies) debate over an upcoming mission into space, where work on a particle accelerator (called the Shepard) could be the solution to the global power problem. His protests, however, are unable to convince her not to go through with it. The several-hundred-day assignment soon initiates, helmed by a crew that also includes Commander Kiel (David Oyelowo), physicist Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl), Dr. “Monk” Acosta (John Ortiz), Mundy (Chris O’Dowd), Volkov (Aksel Hennie), and engineer Tam (Ziyi Zhang) – a conspicuously diverse, international cast.

As infighting and frustrations constrict efforts aboard the Cloverfield space station, few successful results are experienced. And the crew is running out of time, as their mission exceeds two years, bringing their resources to the brink. At the same time, many people back on Earth worry about the supernatural implications of dealing with such powerful – and under-researched – technology. One author in particular, having penned the book “The Cloverfield Paradox,” warns of extreme consequences, such as smashing together multiple dimensions to effectively shatter reality (and to cause interdimensional particle interaction). These experimentations could even release monsters and demons and other supernatural horrors.

Oddly, this is the concept that seems most unfitting (despite the title carrying obvious alien-movie assumptions). Quantum entanglement is too recondite to jump onboard with so easily. Yet the claustrophobic, ill-lit, unfriendly corridors full of cold metal panelling, and the cavernous openings above suspended bridges (crossing through numerous decks, designated by the alphabet) provide the perfect environments for sci-fi thrills. Still, the blunt foreshadowing is just too unreal. Fortunately, when creepy sounds and strange behaviors begin plaguing the shipmates, the scares become more palatable. Despite the rapidity of the setup, the attention to gruesome details and paranormal activities soon prevails, especially as the focus shifts away from overly familiar earthbound predicaments (though they resurface from time to time, taking away from the nightmarish Shepard circumstances).

Although the editing feels notably like a television project (or a pilot for a series), it’s instantly difficult to dismiss the potency of Bear McCreary’s music, which is jolting, haunting, and wholly cinematic. Adding to this are high-quality special effects and makeup/gore, paired with amusing space station designs and a few bits of advanced technology. Plus, characters are injured or die off in unnerving manners, and one is even brought over from another dimension (engineer Mina Jensen, played by Elizabeth Debicki).

The otherworldly happenings tend to resemble moments from “Resident Evil,” “Doom,” “Ghosts of Mars,” “Pandorum,” “Event Horizon,” “Interstellar,” “Gravity,” “Passengers,” “Moon,” “Life,” “Alien: Covenant,” and many others, which is disappointing but not entirely unexpected. Originality in spacefaring horror pictures is rare. Part of the problem is a jumbled storyline and a shifting tone, which switch between adventure, suspense, esoteric science-fiction, drama, and frights. O’Dowd even contributes some comic relief. Had the film concentrated on just one of these notions, it might have felt like a purposeful, comprehensible project (the plot could almost be three or four separate screenplays stitched together). Instead, it steadily becomes more and more evident that, as with “10 Cloverfield Lane,” this latest entry into the franchise was intended to be an independent entity before it was readapted for presold audiences.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10