Netflix surprised film fans around the world with a teaser trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox during the Super Bowl, then went ahead and released the movie just a few hours later. It was sold to Netflix by Paramount Pictures, who have not been having the greatest year financially. The story of The Cloverfield Paradox acts as a prequel to the original 2008 film, and revolves around a group of astronauts aboard an international space station. They’re fighting for their survival after a scientific experiment involving a particle accelerator has unexpected results. The film is in no way perfect, but it’s a rock solid sci-fi thriller that is sure to satisfy both casual moviegoers as well as hardcore fans of the Cloverfield franchise.
The first thing that stands out is the incredible cast, which includes such talented actors as Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, Zhang Ziyi, Aksel Hennie, and Elizabeth Debicki. All of them deliver some great performances, but Mbatha-Raw’s character Ava Hamilton is the one that gets the most development. From the very beginning, the film establishes what motivated her to join this mission, and the lengths to which she’d go to save her family. She shares some solid chemistry with the rest of her cast, particularly Brühl’s Schmidt and Debicki’s Mina Jensen.
This installment of the Cloverfield franchise was directed by Nigerian-American filmmaker Julius Onah, best known for 2015’s The Girl is in Trouble. When the film is just focused on what’s happening aboard the Cloverfield Station, Onah does a great job building suspense and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Not that there’s anything wrong with the scenes set on Earth; it’s just that at times they feel disjointed, as if they were written at the last minute to tie the narrative into the Cloverfield universe.
Speaking of the screenplay, credit belongs to Oren Uziel and Doug Jung of 22 Jump Street and Star Trek Beyond fame. Amidst all the suspense and the high stakes are some brief moments of levity. This just helps ground the characters in reality, much like the original. However, what holds the screenplay back is its derivative nature. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen stories like this, especially when the question about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few arises towards the second half of the film.
The storytelling could certainly be improved upon, but the overall production is top notch. Dan Mindel, a frequent collaborator with J.J. Abrams, handles the cinematography, which looks too good not to be seen on the big screen. The costume designs were done by the legendary Colleen Atwood, and Bear McCreary composed a fantastic score.
Mike’s score: 8/10
The Cloverfield Paradox is a solidly entertaining sci-fi thriller with an amazing cast, excellent production, and a director with a bright future ahead of him. The Cloverfield franchise may not always be hitting home runs, but it could be a great platform for launching the careers of several up and coming filmmakers, as long as audiences keep coming back for more.
For more thoughts on The Cloverfield Paradox, make sure to check out the first episode of our Star Wars podcast later this week on the Geeks and Gamers YouTube channel!