Shortly after Super Bowl LII, the hosts at the party I was at turned on Netflix to gauge the interest of everyone in attendance, as to whether or not we would bite on the marketing ploy during the big game. During 2018’s Super Bowl, Netflix aired an ad letting the tens of millions who had tuned in know that the second sequel to 2008’s CLOVERFIELD would drop on their streaming service after the game wrapped up. Instead of chomping at the bit, the party overwhelming expressed disinterest and I had thought I was spared another humdrum entry in J.J. Abrams cinematic Cloverse. Then the blu-ray came out…
I read plenty of bad reviews for CLOVERFIELD PARADOX, so I guess I’m now here to add to the choir. I have to add the caveat that I didn’t hate it as much as some, probably because I’m not big on the CLOVERFIELD franchise. The original didn’t interest me and I hated that the big reveal was a gray uninteresting monster. I wasn’t even all too interested in what transpired by the end of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, although I’ll admit the performances were outstanding and the bunker tension was palpable. CLOVERFIELD PARADOX tries to tie these two movies together by explaining the origins of the creatures and monsters at the end of both films.
CLOVERFIELD PARADOX is about an international group of astronauts testing the Shepard particle accelerator in space. The experiment is too dangerous to try on Earth because some theorize it could open up Earth to the dangers of parallel universes, known as the Cloverfield Paradox. I think the real-life danger of creating a black hole that could swallow our universe is bit more realistic since this scenario is based on real-world scientists searching for the God Particle. Regardless, I think you know where this film is headed. They do end up opening the proverbial door to an alternate dimension.
This is the kind of film that reminds me of much better sci-fi horrors, as well as weaker ones like EVENT HORIZON. EVENT HORIZON is by no means a great film, but it’s fun and serviceable. It also does something that CLOVERFIELD PARADOX fails to do, simplify its science jargon. In EVENT HORIZON, the reason behind weird things happening on the ship is explained that the ship may have literally gone to Hell when traveling through alternate universes. The ship in CLOVERFIELD PARADOX has stuff that could be explained by the parallel universe theory, but other things aren’t as easy to explain because of how bizarre they come across. Unfortunately, the body horror and body count are a lot more questionable when Satan isn’t involved. It’s because we meddled too much in thinks we weren’t supposed to…I guess?
I’m sure Cloverse purists would gladly email me about how I’m wrong or I wasn’t paying attention, but I honestly don’t care because this is still a bad movie. I was somewhat intrigued how it would end so I never got bored and there is an all-star cast doing their best to handle the inept content. A highlight is the lead, Hamilton (Mbatha-Raw), who at least feels like a fully fleshed out character with quick exposition that’s easily relatable. Another key part to the crew is Gordon (Chris O’Dowd), the film’s comic relief, who doesn’t always deliver a solid punchline, but that Irish brogue during an otherwise dull scene will put a smile on your face.
My research into this film reveals that Abrams acquired an original script and molded it into his own vision, which actually makes a lot of sense. This is the kind of film that could have been the 2018 equivalent to EVENT HORIZON, but it feels bogged down by shoehorned brick laying. I’m sure Cloverse fans will love the final payoff, but it just feels like the over 100-minute film is just building towards an uninspired “Wow!” moment. If Netflix hadn’t acquired this, I’m sure MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, another current Netflix property, would gladly riff on this. Instead you’ll have to do it with friends in the comfort of your own home.
Video: (1080p HD Widescreen 2:39:1) At least it looks great. That’s a compliment for the blu-ray release.
Audio: (English Dolby TrueHD 7.1) Nothing wrong audio wise.
Things Are Not As They Appear: The Making of THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX (14:23): This is a decent behind-the-scenes feature that takes a look at nearly everything. A lot of the creators and producers weigh in on how they tried to make this fit into their CLOVERFIELD vision.
Shepard Team: The Cast (14:48): This feature is great just because of O’Dowd. A few of the actors also talk about how they’ve been on board with the project for years and the changes of the script over the years. I forgot to mark down whom, but one actor in particular seemed a little dismayed about the final product.