3.0
Score

Pros

  • strong performances from Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris O’Dowd

Cons

  • weak plot and storyline — perhaps because it was supposed to be another movie altogether
  • loose tie-ins to Cloverfield Franchise

During the later months of 2007, there was an amazing viral marketing campaign that got a lot of people excited. Unconventionally, trailers had no titles and no clues as to what movie it was promoting and is very similar to ARG (Alternate Game Reality) viral marketing used by video games such as Valve’s Portal.

Unusually, Paramount Studios was able to keep the movie title a complete secret leading to wild speculation both online and in the media. Entire social media accounts and websites were created to add to the illusion and finally, when the movie released in January 2008, the Cloverfield franchise was born.

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*


Curious about the hype, I joined the excited horde and found the movie completely unwatchable due to the “shaky cam” found footage style of the movie which gave me awful motion sickness. Despite the controversial filming style, the public and critics loved the movie, especially the intensity and way it sets itself apart from other movies featuring monsters or creatures.

The sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane was also preceded by a viral ARG marketing campaign for 2 months before releasing in January 2016, a full 8 years after the original film. The film was generally well received but was criticised for its lack of character development and similarity to the first film in how the movie ended.

the cloverfield paradox
Image Credit: The Cloverfield Paradox

The third film was originally announced as the “God Particle”. The script was later modified to add in elements of the Cloverfield franchise and the film was named “The Cloverfield Paradox”. “The Cloverfield Paradox” is a lackluster addition to the series, as it takes its viewers on a baffling journey through a 1.5-hour film that lacks cohesiveness.

The sheer abruptness that you are dropped straight into the story made me feel like I was watching an episode in the midst of a series instead of a stand-alone movie.

Trailer For The Cloverfield Paradox

The Plot of The Cloverfield Paradox

A quick radio news report and radio transmissions within the first couple minutes of the movie sets the tone and storyline. Energy resources are close to depletion and a global armed conflict seems inevitable.

Before you know it, suddenly you are onboard a massive, state of the art space station with a particle accelerator that is meant to solve the worlds energy crisis, by producing an almost unlimited supply of clean, free energy to fuel every nation on the globe, and avert a ruinous war over the few remaining sources of conventional energy.

zhang ziyi and daniel bruhl in the cloverfield paradox
Image Credit: The Cloverfield Paradox

If this sounds familiar and overplayed, you wouldn’t be blamed as overly zealous and arrogant scientists looking to play God is nothing new at all in sci-fi but, the desperate tone of the energy crisis lends a refreshingly selfless atmosphere of scientists from different nations working together to avert a global crisis and even the argument at the start of the movie starts because an astronaut is accusing another of not carrying his weight.

Only the main character, Hamilton — portrayed by Gugu Mbatha-Raw whom you may recognize from Black Mirror, Jupiter Ascending and Doctor Who — is given any sort of backstory about amidst a crew of 7 astronauts. The crew starring Tam (Zhang Ziyi), Kiel (David Oyelowo), Monk (John Ortiz), Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) and a sadly under-utilised Mundy portrayed by Chris O’Dowd who I loved in The IT Crowd.

gugu mbatha raw in the cloverfield paradox
Image Credit: The Cloverfield Paradox

Conflict arises between the crew as tensions flare after they’ve been on board for 2 years’ despite being promised a mission lasting no longer than 6 months and tensions finally come to a head as dwindling oil reserves are causing wars to break out.

Fears amongst the crew about what the particle accelerator might release loosely mimic similar fears in real life about the Large Hadron Collider and despite all the sci-fi, supernatural expectations set up by this argument that seemingly foreshadows what lies ahead, you don’t get a strong sense of dread or fearful anticipation in the rest of the movie that you do from films such as Sphere, Event Horizon and Alien.

The Saving Grace of “The Cloverfield Paradox” – its Actors

chris odowd in the cloverfield paradox
Image Credit: The Cloverfield Paradox

One can almost see the inspiration and the parallel between strong female leads in similar movies such as Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and the Gugu Mbatha-Raw casting decision here. Movie quality aside, she has an excellent performance. Chris O’Dowd is another actor who kept me watching despite his role being at odds the with overall tone of the movie.

What We Conclude About “The Cloverfield Paradox”

By the time the end credits rolled, I was left wondering “who exactly was the antagonist here?” there are some loose nods and acknowledgements of the 2008 film and simply propels itself towards the ending punctuated periodically by crew deaths and a really strange mutilation scene.

Perhaps I’m being overly critical and watching the movie again after knowing the ending might give me a better understanding but there are a lot of other better sci-fi horror/disaster movies in space that you can treat yourself to. There is a sequel on the way. We’re hoping it’ll be better than a haphazard last minute addition to a franchise.

Read More: Movies You Didn’t Know Were Made in Malaysia

If you’re looking for more Asian movies and TV shows, check out Dimsum Malaysia and get RM 1.50 cashback.