Every Sci-Fi Trope You've Ever Seen, Packed into one disappointing mess
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018): Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.
These raw thoughts come to you from the bedroom of my apartment immediately after seeing the film. (Netflix is a wonderful thing)
STOP IT. STOP WRECKING MY BELOVED WORLD OF CLOVERFIELD LIKE THIS. The third installment in the Cloverfield franchise lands with a thud after another wonderfully Cloverfield-esque marketing campaign. (aka shooting the entire film in secret) Announcing this film at the freaking Super Bowl was brilliant, and would make the franchise proud. (Both of the previous films had similar surprise releases.) Unfortunately.....everything else about this crapshoot is massively disappointing. There are aspects of this film that are interesting. Elizabeth Debicki's character is somewhat fascinating, (when you can move past her absolutely absurd character introduction) and the film's investigation into its "paradox" is somewhat cool. Unfortunately, these two good ideas are surrounded by a(n accidentally) HILARIOUS amount of sci-fi cliches. UGH. STOP IT!
I hate this movie. If you couldn't tell. I've only seen a few films in 2018, but this is an early heavyweight contender for biggest disappointment of the entire year. Let's travel back to 2008 for a minute. You just saw this little sci-fi movie called Cloverfield. (Which, fun fact, I've reviewed twice on this blog accidentally. First review, second review! It's a decent look into how one's feelings on a film change over time.) What made it so great? There's a lot of reasons, but I think it starts with the mystery and intrigue surrounding the monster itself. So, needless to say.... giving us an origin story for the monster is going to put this film at a disadvantage right out of the gate. But, even still.....this is bad. I mean....think back to Cloverfield. The setup before the part where "things go down" was about 15 minutes. This movie is built on setup. We don't even see the monsters of this universe until the ACTUAL last shot of the film. How can it be a good origin story when you don't see the creature your making an origin story of? Even if you remove the cloud of mystery surrounding the actual monster.....the monster is the most interesting part of this franchise! Why do we now have two feature-length films where we get basically ZERO shots of the freaking monster??? At least in 10 Cloverfield Lane you had a pretty enjoyable thriller that did not rely solely on tropes and cliches and is buoyed by a great performance from John Goodman. The least interesting part of that movie was the lore, and here that's ALL we get within this crappy origin story. It's just not interesting at all! How is this lore, with all the titanic names attached to developing it, not even remotely interesting??? COME ON, Bad Robot! Cloverfield is one of the early reasons why you're so successful today! Why can't you make lore that's even remotely interesting for this universe? And I love this diverse cast, don't get me wrong, but none of them put in a John Goodman-esque performance, so there's nothing there to keep me invested either. I like Gugu Mbatha-Raw a lot, and I LOVE that she's the lead here, but none of these performances wow'd me. Though, to be fair, they had some pretty crappy dialogue to recite, so that didn't help. Honestly.... the dialogue, effects, editing, score, and cinematography were ALL lackluster at best, and downright awful at worst. I knew we were in for a rough ride the second I didn't see Michael Giacchino's name attached to the score in the opening credits. It's not THAT big of a deal, but Giacchino did give this franchise a FANTASTIC theme in the end credits of the original, and I don't fully understand why these guys haven't reprised that theme in any way in the second or third installment of this franchise. I think that's an example of the larger problem of this franchise: no one really, actually cares about it. No one bothered to think, "Man, Michael Giacchino gave us a really great theme in the first movie. We should bring that back!" (Which they should be able to do no problem, because Paramount should own that theme) There wasn't much "source material" in the first Cloverfield. But what little "source material" there was has been tossed aside for....whatever this is.
GAH. WHY IS THIS SO BAD? This film is set inside a world that has a very interesting monster, so why is literally everything surrounding this monster uninteresting? Heck, even something like Prometheus gave us a more interesting investigation into the Alien franchise than this. At least there are a few bright spots. As I mentioned previously Elizabeth Debecki's character is somewhat interesting, and the overall sci-fi theme this film investigates is kind of cool. Here there were a few cool scenes where you didn't really know what was happening in what world, and there are a few (cheap) "Got you!s" within this feeling of unknown. But that's really about all this film has going for it. Oh! And the cast is fine. Nothing special, as I said, but fine is still fine.
I don't know. Maybe this is all part of a long-con by J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company. Maybe we'll be able to look back on this film within the context of a major saga and see its brilliance. But.....I doubt it. There's just nothing interesting here, right now. And it's not even told in an interesting way! The film hand-feeds us exposition in the most uninteresting and bland ways possible. From the texting sequences to the interviews that feed us exposition, it felt like absolutely no thought was put into how to best deliver the lore of this world to the audience. Seriously.... some of the exposition here gives Bright a run for its money. It's forgettable, filled with cliches and bad dialogue, and poorly edited. The FEW interesting qualities are massively outweighed by the negatives, and when you add the fact that this is set within the Cloverfield universe and AGAIN we only get a teaser of the actual monster???? It's unforgivable. I love the original too much to abandon this franchise just yet, but after this trainwreck (and the lackluster lore of the second film) I'm on thin ice with it. Please, please, PLEASE give us something better next time, Bad Robot.
My Number: 3/10 Bad.
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