The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Cloverfield Paradox</strong> (2018)

(Netflix Streaming, February 2018) Some movies are events more than movies and The Cloverfield Paradox is one of those—the events surrounding the film’s release are far more interesting than the film itself. To recap: third in a series of increasingly incoherent anthology movies somehow revolving around the word Cloverfield and the quest for corporate profits, the film once known as The God Particle was retooled to fit in the Cloverfield series during shooting, bought from Paramount by Netflix and released online mere hours after the first broadcast of its trailer during Super Bowl XLI. There has never been such an instant release of a mid-budget Hollywood film before (other Netflix originals were long in the making, and marketed traditionally), and that is the very definition of hype. Alas, when you strip away the hubbub and take a look at the film itself, what’s left isn’t much more than a disappointing space-station horror film. Even by the low standards of the sub-genre, The Cloverfield Paradox is less than it should have been: the plot is fairly dull, the subplots barely make sense and—adding insult to injury—the film features an explanatory broadcast explaining that once technical mumbo-jumbo is achieved, anything and everything can happen without explanation, not just in this movie but others as well. The crazy thing is that even as dumb a manoeuver as this may work: There’s a sizeable Cloverfield fandom out there, and it seems dead-set on rationalizing even the laziest half-hints provided by series producer J.J. Abrams. For clear-headed viewers, the scam is obvious: despite the elaborate ARGs and the mythology hints and the nonsense mystique of “The Mystery Box,” this is all a bunch of nonsense loosely tied together without purpose, taking advantage of the nerdy OCD trait of creating connections when there are none. The Cloverfield Paradox is about slapping a label on a substandard product and selling it at twice the expectations. The irony is that if it had been released in its original formulation, The God Particle could have been a pleasant low-expectations surprise. I do feel sorry for actors as talented as Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Daniel Brühl, doing their best but stuck in a nonsense film. Moment of directing also shine, but they’re quickly buried under the film’s internal contradictions and incoherent plotting—from a technical perspective, The Cloverfield Paradox is a s slick as any mid-budget Hollywood production. But I almost hope that Bad Robot has pushed too far with this second off-label Cloverfield product—now that the modus operandi of tying spec scripts to a blurry mythology is clear, the Cloverfield brand has been tainted as a low-end product. A fourth entry, Overlord (no telling what it will be named once it gets out) is planned for later in 2018. We’ll have a better idea by then how sustainable is that marketing model.

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