Even for all its faults, when Netflix wants to make a splash…they can really make a splash. After all, nothing quite screams “confident” like airing an ad for a movie people weren’t really aware even existed until the day the ad aired, much less putting it up for consumption hours later. While The Cloverfield Paradox did enjoy a great deal of concentrated hype as a result, it’s still in effect Paramount shifting the property onto someone else; but the real question is, was it worth the effort?
While The Cloverfield Paradox is in part a maybe prequel/sequel to the previous two films, what really matters is whether it’s enjoyable as a movie by itself. The answer to that question is: yes, it absolutely is.
This film occupies a vastly different genre from both my favorite film in the series, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and the original Cloverfield film. This latest entry is a mish-mash of entertaining science fiction and haunted house thriller wit. The premise being that humanity, in the midst of an energy crisis and impending war, sends a team up into space to test a particle accelerator as a way of creating clean energy to resolve the crisis. Of course, things go horribly wrong and the cast gets winnowed pretty quickly – as goes with these types of films, but the focus on Ava and Schmidt helps to retain some through-line in all the noise.
That being said: while this iteration of Cloverfield is entertaining to watch, a lot of what occurs is just noise – events to occupy time till the next plot discovery can occur. While there’s nothing wrong with entertainment for its own sake, in what’s a follow up to one of the more thoughtful movies of the series, it’s hard not to feel somewhat let down.
There are flashes of brilliance when the movie takes the time to explore the motivations of its cast and allow them to just interact, as well as when it attempts to explore how trust is at a premium when we’re up against the wall. The haunted house antics, though, take away from exploring some of the interesting ethical quandaries that it posits, which is a bit of a letdown. All things considered, Julius Onah does a great job with the material provided by Orien Uzel’s screenplayer, and what would otherwise be truly B-movie material doesn’t stick out too poorly in this film.
Now, is The Cloverfield Paradox worth watching? If you’re expecting something to reach the heights of 10 Cloverfield Lane, don’t get too excited. But as far as something to burn through several hours, you’ll be enjoying yourself. It does speak to Paramount’s mindset that it ultimately decided to dump this into the Netflix graveyard, so while this may be Netflix’s gain, it’s not a benefit for movies as a whole. This is no Beasts of No Nation, and ultimately it’s yet another movie that would have benefited from a theatrical release as opposed to being straight-to-streaming. Overall it’s enjoyable, but it’s also as sad a glimpse at the possible future of movies as the film itself is for humanity.
3 Shepards out of 5