The Cloverfield Paradox (a Netflix Review)

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When, or if, you saw 10 Cloverfield Lane, did you think it was connected to the original Cloverfield in any way? I can confidently say that I hoped it was, but until the very end of the film was not convinced that it was in any way. Up until the end I was left wondering if it was coincidence or the director’s intent to forcibly create a “Cloverfield-universe.”

Then this movie comes out, which I honestly had not heard of until the 2018 Super Bowl ad had aired. What I do know is that in that very moment my immediate desire was to see the movie as soon as humanly possible. Fast forward an hour or so and the trailer premiers again, post-game, saying that it is now available on Netflix.

We are talking one minute you learn something exists, and the next you can pull out your streaming device of choice and begin watching it. Let me just say: that is some evil genius levels of marketing prowess. Perhaps a game changing strategy moving forward, too. Something I wouldn’t put pass this media streaming age.

Enough about the marketing. As impressive as it is, how is the movie?

SPOILERS:

A lot of aliens, they are in fact all in the same cinematic universe (multiverse, as the case may be), and they have a lot of explaining left to do.

Overview and Pros:

With earth running out of electricity producing resources, a team of astronauts on the Shepherd go into space to safely activate what appears to be a Hadron Collider on steroids. This is theorized to create a near unlimited supply of energy, but once it successfully launches, it instead blasts the team to another dimension. Lots of craziness happens, the new universe tries to correct the abnormality by killing them off, and space time is ripped open. This allows foreign monstrosities to enter Earth and that explains the previous two films.

The movie is not bad, in fact I quite enjoyed it. You could possibly attribute this enjoyment to the fact I’m already a Cloverfield fan, but also that it shares heavy similarities with other popular films. This movie honestly felt like a 102 minute mesh of Alien and Black Mirror with a larger budget and less attention to depth in story or focus on creative horror film imagery.

What they did nail was the final shot, though it ranks high on a cheese factor. In terms of creativity, it lacks, but in terms of conclusive remarks, it leaves no doubt. Instead of leaving the internet to theorize until the next release, they show the alien monster seen in the first film basically saying “Incase you were too stupid or haven’t seen the other movies, here’s an informative smack in the face.”

Cons:

Aside from a soft spot due to my love of the previous films in this now trilogy, the film really held my attention. My only real complaint is that it felt as though it was cut short, because I almost find myself having more questions now with this piece of the story than before without it. It has been announced that this was originally going to be a movie called “The God Particle,” only being included into this Cloverfield world as an afterthought. This really explains the sort of “it was okay” response that the market is giving it.

Another thing is the performances and the ability to bond with the protagonists. The performances were not bad by any means, but they only sit on the “good enough” rung of the cinematic ladder. Surly this contributed somewhat to the difficulty I felt bonding with the main characters, but most of all I think the post-production edits harmed it. Funny enough, I found myself bonding to the husband back on earth more than any of the characters up in the world-saving mission! Which does not exactly fit into what most people enjoy in movies… wanting that 90-120 minutes of imagining themselves as a hero, not a worried spouse that will soon be attacked by aliens in an otherwise normal life.

As for the multiverse concept, I find this to often be used as a scapegoat when writing a script. “Oh crap, this doesn’t make any sense. …unless it was the same world but a different universe!” This is why I am a Marvel fan, not a DC guy. I like analyzing stories spanning across the same world and expansive galaxies, not multiple stories across multiple universes just to have multiple versions to sell and not put much effort into explaining and connecting key plot points. I think that this is going to create more questions than necessary along the way through this series. Now, if they can pull it off, it will be a truly enjoyable one. I am just skeptical with how modern films are going nowadays. Even Star Wars, my absolute favorite series of all time, is seeing the negative tug of social justice, forced writing and poor fan service.

An Annoying Bit:

Speaking do social justice: diversity. Not only that, but forced diversity. The lead characters are women, which I don’t really have an issue with, except you can see by their proposed superiority despite their position on the team of the Shepherd that is is artificial. You also see a variety of ethnicities on the shuttle, which could very well be a real-life possibility if they end up being the best in their respective fields. However, do you honestly think that’s how it would look in any realistic scenario? There wouldn’t be a “Diversity Chief or Staff” making decisions on a world-saving mission. There would be IQ tests, background checks and aptitude tests to ensure their base natural abilities surpassed even the most proficient among the average’s best elsewhere.

That bothered me a bit during the movie, but I let it go thinking it could just be who landed the roles. Then the articles and reviews started flowing and they were either “Ending Explained” or “Yay Diversity!” Had it not been for the obvious placement of value on this after its release, I would have considered not mentioning it here. But then they came rolling in, and it felt necessary.

Just leave your social justice to the overweight pink haired women* in underwater basket and gender studies programs. I want to see talent exhibited in a movie, not people with no arguments trying to condition to population to their side by constant and subtle exposure.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed it as a movie, but not as a world builder necessarily. Perhaps this will be awesome in hindsight if they continue to expand, but as it stands it doesn’t seem to fit in a constructive manner. I understand that what they are trying to do here is show how the monsters came to Earth in the first place. What did not fully see explanation is why they are deciding to include so many locations in this supposed multiverse and not say which one we are in at what point, which Earth to relate to, or even why it matters much at all.

I am going to give this movie a “watch on your next night in.” There is a lot of uncertainty to this movie, but it is portrayed in a way that makes you want to watch it just to casually analyze. I say that makes it worth watching just to delve into the meta-film.

*Or as the case may sometimes be, tall skinny women with purple hair as The Last Jedi gave us.

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