Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Cloverfield Paradox

During the Superbowl on Sunday night the first trailer played for a new Netflix film called The Cloverfield Paradox. There was a twist though. The trailer was for a film which was being released later that night. No fanfare, no reviews, no hype, just the film. Social media was aflame yesterday. Everyone talking about it. It was a pretty astute move from Netflix, using a method that was basically the norm before the arrival of the internet and making it look fresh. It built insane hype up in just a few hours. Pity the film is such a mess though. 

The Earth is in trouble. It's fuel resources are running dangerously low and tensions among countries are rising. A group of nation's band together and launch the Cloverfield space station with the intention of testing a particle accelerator which could theoretically create an infinite energy source which would of course save the planet from certain destruction. The downside of it is, just like the real life Large Hardon Collider particle accelerator there's also a chance of some pretty serious side effects...

I really wanted to like this. 2008's Cloverfield is an absolute belter of a horror/sci-fi movie and 2016's 10 Cloverfield Avenue was a darkly funny and clever twist on the story but this is a big disappointment made worse by the fact that the first hour of it is pretty good. It's interesting, has some very intriguing ideas and clever moments that are well carried by a solid and racially diverse cast. And then when you think something special could happen it just......it all goes to fuck. It falls into a messy mire of cliche. And the potholes. OH THE PLOTHOLES. Things happen that might look cool but they make no sense whatsoever, there's nothing to back them up. Making things worse again is the film stealing plot devices from better sci-fi films such as Alien, The Thing and Sunshine. I'll give it kudos for a nod to Evil Dead 2 though and the typically Irish reaction to it.

The cast tries gamely but as good as they are they just can't cover up the cracks. Gubu Mbatha-Raw as Hamilton is a fine actress. She gives the film some bit of an emotional centre, someone to care about particularly when we find out a bit about her past. Chris O'Dowd plays Chris O'Dowd, Roscommon accent and all and gives us two fine laughs at his own expense. The rest of the cast including Zhang Ziyi, Daniel Brühl and David Oyelowo are fine but honestly you won't give a damn about them. Bad writing and characterisation is the enemy of empathy especially with supporting characters.

If you haven't seen the first Cloverfield film you'll be baffled tbh. And if you have you'll notice a bit of retconning going on in this to help the two films fit together. Which somehow cheapens the first film too which is a pity. This is director Julius Onah's second film and I hope it doesn't derail his career. He does have an eye for cool looking moments and builds some solid tension earlier in the film, I have to give him that. If he'd been put together with a better script this could have been mighty but nope, it's a poor effort that feels rushed and will probably mean the end of this franchise.

It's just not a good film and I think Netflix knew this when choosing to release it this way. Getting it out there before critics should savage it means more people will watch it. And of course we all fell for it. Like dopes.

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