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One Movie Punch

Feb 13, 2018

Today’s movie is “The Cloverfield Paradox” (2018), the surprise installment in the Cloverfield universe announced during this year’s Super Bowl and made immediately available on Netflix. The film follows the crew of the Cloverfield space station, which is attempting to generate a nearly limitless power source. After multiple failed attempts, they succeed, ripping themselves into another universe and wreaking havoc on their space station.

I have mixed feelings about the Cloverfield approach to films. On the surface, the idea is undeniably clever, giving a lot of leeway to curate loosely connected genre films in an asymmetrical fashion. “Cloverfield” (2008) was such a fresh take on the giant monster film, both slightly nauseating to watch given the camera work, but amazingly rendered. “10 Cloverfield Lane” (2016) took a hard left into a psychological thriller, with extremely loose ties made somewhat clear in the last ten minutes.

And now, we have a third installment, set in space, with almost countless references to space thrillers that have come before. The story feels like too much, missing the focus of the previous installments, jumping between an isolated space station setting and the events unfolding on the ground, not to mention a completely different dimension and whatever space madness begins to happen. And when the direct connections are made to the first film, the reveal just falls kind of flat.

The ensemble cast turns in a decent performance, although we never really get to know much about any of them except their nationality and which languages they speak. The most defined relationship is between Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her husband Michael (Roger Davies), which bridges the two storylines. Chris O’Dowd provides comedic support as Mundy. And there’s a fun cameo by Donal Logue, who literally wrote the book on “The Cloverfield Paradox”.

I’m a sucker for science fiction films, so despite the weird tone differences and mashed together feel of this film, I don’t hate it as much as others. I do have some concerns for future installments, especially if the story is as haphazardly thrown together as this script. And I have a lot of criticisms as well, but in the end, I enjoyed it, probably against my better judgment.

Rotten Tomatoes: 18%

Metacritic: 36

One Movie Punch: 6.4/10

“The Cloverfield Paradox” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is streaming on Netflix.