Lost in space
Is it too ironic to say that The Cloverfield Paradox really lived up to its' name by actually creating a paradox in the franchise's continuity? The story of this third entry in the perplexing series is a strange one, with no one even knowing that production on it had already been complete nor when it was going to be released after it was delayed constantly. When word got out that Netflix bought the film, I figured it was going to be released on the streaming site exclusively sometime this year. Well, I was half-right since the film not only dropped shortly after the Super Bowl, we finally knew the official title but as I finished watching it I also found out why Paramount, and to an extent J.J. Abrams, decided to forgo a theatrical release. The film ties in with the first film which explains what led up to those events and as a result creating more questions...and confusion. It's uncertain when Paradox takes place (the year is never mentioned) but from what I can presume it takes place about two years before the events of the first film. Earth has reached the point where natural resources have expired. Due to the energy crisis, nations are on the verge of going to war with one another. Global agencies work together to launch a station called the Cloverfield which contains a particle accelerator that upon successful launch will generate an infinite supply of energy for Earth. Years into the mission, Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her crew have yielded no results in getting the particle accelerator to work. Eventually, the machine performs successfully, allowing the crew to discharge a perfect run but the moment takes a turn for the worst when it overloads and causes a power surge throughout the whole station. After the crew recovers, they notice that the Earth is gone and have somehow traveled to a point of uncharted space. Not only that, strange instances begin to occur on the station that affects the crew as they soon come to realize the grave consequences of their actions. Given how there wasn't much of a marketing buildup for The Cloverfield Paradox, considering it was announced and released on the same day, I wasn't sure whether to peg it as a prequel or its' own entity like 10 Cloverfield Lane. Paradox tries to address questions that fans who watched the first film have been wanting to know, particularly where the giant alien beast came from. Although it somehow does answer that, in return it creates several continuity issues with the rest of film. For instance, in what time period does this occur in: the future or in 2008? The other is if the alien beasts did come from another dimension, how did they arrive on Earth? To list them all would take up a chunk of this review but I'll just say that the film bites off more than it can chew. The sci-fi tropes are very familiar, and they feel a bit borrowed from other films that have done it to better effect. The one positive note is that the acting is terrific with standout performances from the crew members; everything else about the film feels slightly loose in consistency of quality from being either not great and not terrible. I'll admit that it's the weakest entry of the franchise but the backlash this film has gotten is, although understandable, nowhere near as awful as some make it out to be. A little more polish and the film could've been the chapter that tied everything together perfectly. It pains me that such potential went to waste but I will say that regardless The Cloverfield Paradox still deserves a look. It won't cost you anything....literally.