In typical Cloverfield fashion, the hotly anticipated Cloverfield 3 - The Cloverfield Paradox - has pulled the rug from under us yet again, releasing a spot during last night’s big Super Bowl which announced the film will be available to stream on Netflix immediately after. And now the verdict is in.

Whilst we have known of the formerly-titled God Particle’s existence as a Cloverfield film for some time now (unlike the original and 10 Cloverfield Lane, which were announced with no forewarning whatsoever a mere couple months before they released), it has seemed murky for a while as to when we would actually get to see the film – constantly reshuffling its release date around. But last night, Netflix debuted a first look spot for the film which revealed it’s title to be The Cloverfield Paradox, on top of the reveal that it would be available straight after Super Bowl Sunday. Of course, a film of this calibre dropping immediately on us with no warning whatsoever is unprecedented so there was a lot of excitement surrounding this; now that the film is out, though, was it worth the wait? Well, Paradox is certainly not an awful film by any stretch, but it is quite the disappointment given the quality of its predecessors and it's definitely the worst of the Cloverfield films yet.

The promise seems evident early on; the set-up is chilling and establishes some rather interesting concepts and characters and a story that could really work (one I'll perhaps leave unsaid, given it released without revealing anything at all). The only problem is, the film doesn’t make well on these promises and we’re left with a lot of undercooked ideas and an overabundance of unanswered questions and wasted potential. Paradox’s faults lie solely within a script that just can’t decide what it wants to be: is it a Cloverfield film; is it a space-set horror the likes of Alien; is it a socio-political commentary reflecting our lives and slow-destruction of Earth. It doesn’t know. Doug Jung and Oren Uziel’s screenplay bites off more than it can chew and instead of working on telling a simple, effective story, it tries to juggle too much and quickly becomes a very overstuffed, very convoluted film that just ends up a frustratingly sprawling and scattered mess. The characters feel thin; the subplots are all askew and underdeveloped; the dialogue is weak; the story becomes confusing; the overall narrative suffers and feels not only rushed but boring.
Which is a real shame, given the initial potential we're set with. The first act is actually enjoyable to watch but the film just lacks focus and the sharp execution from Julius Onah that Dan Trachtenberg brought to 10 Cloverfield Lane or that Matt Reeves infused the original with to eschew its faults and doubts and really stick out the way those two films did. Paradox also boasts an impressive cast and whilst everyone does good work in their respective roles, from the likes of Gugu Mbartha-Raw to Chris O’Dowd, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki and David Oyelowo, the characters never break that ‘initially interesting’ boundary to really revel in any depth. They're too lacking in complexity after the first act for the performances to really pop and work. The film falls into selling them off as conventions and stereotypes so, naturally, they’ll feel as generic as they come; this is perhaps something that can encapsulate the film itself. Onah’s direction of tension is effective in creating some eerie, atmospheric scenes and the film utilises some good body horror but it feels too few and far between; the horror element of Paradox, however, is as conventional as you can get – it’s riddled with fake-out jump-scares that utilise loud music to ‘scare’ its audience and it's predictable and lazy. Onah’s work, overall, feels fine. It’s a capably helmed film, given the mess of the script and the slick cinematography utilises its small environment to create some claustrophobic shots.

The Cloverfield Paradox came with a lot of anticipation given the talent on-board and the promise of its concept, not to mention the quality of the original Cloverfield and 10 CL too, and this last-minute Netflix release as well. And, whilst some elements of the film certainly work, most of it sadly just falls apart. It’s a watchable enough film, with its core storyline remaining the only one somewhat engaging throughout to keep it competent but with mawkish dialogue, lacklustre characters and a messy script encasing the whole thing, it’s not exactly one you’ll be remembering for too long after – certainly not in a good light, as you start picking it apart – and one you’ll find yourself checking out of quite early. It’s a film that can’t decide what it wants to be, and fails in everything it tries to be – not to mention, the ties to Cloverfield franchise feeling horribly forced and shoe-horned in. Perhaps there’s a reason Netflix dumped it online last minute, in a hope to cover up the fact that it’s just not a great film. Perhaps The Cloverfield Paradox would be better off lost in the eponymous Paradox.

Whilst it has its moments, The Cloverfield Paradox is too much of an undercooked, uneven mess to live up to the hype. Perhaps it would be better off lost in the Paradox itself.

About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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