The Cloverfield Paradox is the third entry in the Cloverfield Franchise. The JJ Abrams produced movie dropped on Netflix Superbowl Sunday. We are lucky to live in a world where a movie of this caliber can go from a full on release to casually showing up on Netflix.
The familiar setting of the ‘not so distant future’ delivers a world on the verge of an energy crisis. The Cloverfield space station is an international effort. The crew’s mission is to fire a machine that can create renewable energy.
Staying true to form, Science Fiction takes a concern in our world, amplifies it. We understand the energy crisis as presented. The idea of what the commitment to being on a trip like this is also familiar. Even the particle accelerator is something movie/tv fans have been hearing about for a long time. Even more fun, particle accelerators are real science. Using what’s already familiar to audiences saves the director time wasted on exposition. The efficiency in story telling keeps the run time tight.
The whole idea of the Cloverfield franchise was to keep it a franchise and not a universe. In regards to 10 Cloverfield Lane, Abrams used the term ‘spiritual successors’ instead of ‘sequels.’ Abrams got to a place in his career where ‘experimental films’ were major studio endeavors.
Keeping the Cloverfield Franchise an anthology serves audience and storyteller. Original stories are created with a built in name to back them at the box office. Think Black Mirror on a movie’s scale/budget.
The Cloverfield Paradox dips a bit into the dangerous, yet popular, connected universe. Nods, winks, Easter eggs, and direct connections show up, depending on who you talk to. While this starts to make the anthology fan a little nervous, the movie still stands on its own legs. No other entries in the series are needed to enjoy this movie.
Once the story hits its stride The Cloverfield Paradox gets creepy. The excitement of the original movie was in running from the unknown. The thrill of the second was being trapped with the unknown. Neither of those installments had the chill factor that Paradox grasped.
Sadly, the hold Paradox has on the creep factor is fleeting. The comedy, while well written, undermines the scary factor. The comedy doesn’t ruin the movie by any stretch. An edge of your seat thriller without the advantages of a movie theater would have been a welcome surprise.
The cast of the Cloverfield movies has increased in familiarity since the original. This trend took a sharp turn up and a strong cast was assembled. Even the smallest roles boast big talent.
Without a weak link in the cast Gugu Mbatha-Raw who plays the lead character, Hamilton.
It may seem like a stupid complaint but is a cast this good overkill? Not to downplay the great script by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung but Paradox is far from ground breaking. With such a large cast a lot of the talent has, understandable, limited screen time.
The movie has a reported budget of 26 million dollars. A drop in the bucket compared to a lot of movies that are a whole lot worse. Picking a more unfamiliar cast not only would’ve saved some money. It could have given lesser known actors a chance to shine.
Cloverfield movies are also thrilling off the screen. The lack of opportunity to have buzz around the release is exciting. The first movie seemed to come out of nowhere and became a hit through word of mouth. The second movie had its announcement and a full trailer a mere two months before release. People had an inkling Paradox, or at least Cloverfield 3, existed but that was about it. A banner showed up on Netflix Super Bowl Sunday. The movie was available to stream after the game. That’s it.
Another worthy entry in the Cloverfield Anthology. Paradox blazes new territory while dipping its toe into the pool of connected universe. Let’s hope testing the waters is as far as it goes so we can have more original stories out of this brand.