Movie Review: The Cloverfield confusion

This image released by Netflix shows a scene from "The Cloverfield Paradox," a film that was released on Netflix immediately following the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4. (Netflix via AP)

This year’s Super Bowl had no shortage of hyped trailers, from Disney’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” to Disney’s “Avengers: Infinity War” (or my favorite, NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!”). Amidst all of these long awaited advertisements, the most unexpected came from Netflix, with the announcement of a new entry into the “Cloverfield” film franchise, titled “The Cloverfield Paradox.” Even more unexpected, the trailer not only advertised that the film would be streaming soon, but that it would literally be available the moment the game ended.

As a fan of the original, a very enjoyable giant-monster movie directed by Matt Reeves, I was interested to see what the third entry had to offer. The trailer seemed intriguing, promising answers to the questions left open by the original. Unfortunately, that is not what we got.

I probably should have seen the warning signs just from the circumstances by which the Super Bowl trailer arrived. Think about it, there is no mention of such a film until a trailer suddenly appears announcing that the movie will drop, on a streaming service mind you, in a couple of hours. No reputable film would have this sort of bizarre release.

As for the film itself, its problems are very noticeable. The best way to understand why “The Cloverfield Paradox” didn’t work is to understand the circumstances of its production. From what I could find, this was actually originally intended to be a completely original movie called “The God Particle,” but was changed to a “Cloverfield” prequel while production was already underway. Any reference to “Cloverfield” is set apart from the main action, and was clearly tacked on after the rest of the film had already been shot. This causes the plot and pacing to become jumbled and inconsistent. The tie-ins themselves are very weak, offering no real answers and lasting only a few seconds at a time.

Still, even without the tacked on scenes, I am pretty sure that the film would not have been very good. The plot is incredibly derivative, copying material from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Gravity” and countless other space thrillers. One scene is practically ripped from Ridley Scott’s “Alien,” right down to a character spitting blood and convulsing on a table due to a foreign object implanted in his stomach.

The acting is average, which is surprising considering that the cast includes David Oyelowo (“Selma”), Chris O’Dowd (“Bridesmaids”) and Daniel Brühl (“The Alienist”). The star is Gugu Mbatha-Raw (yes, that is her actual name), who does a fine, but not memorable, job in the role of Ava Hamilton (that’s probably not her fault, as the writing here is not very strong).

Overall, I would advise that you not check this out. Even though it is free to stream, this would probably be a waste of your time. If you want to watch a space thriller, check out “Alien” or “2001.” If you’re a fan of “Cloverfield,” this probably will not have much of an impact on you. It is not terrible, but it’s not particularly good either.

Score: 1.5 / 5 Stars


Evan Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at evan.burns@uconn.edu.