In a surprising move, Netflix announced Sunday night during Super Bowl 52 that The Cloverfield Paradox would premiere on the streaming service soon. And in another surprising move, it was also announced later that the movie would be released the same night right after the game. Netflix has flexed its muscle in an unexpected way with the premier of the third movie in the Cloverfield “Universe”. Now can the film deliver? Gugu Mbatha- Raw, Daniel Bruhl, Aksel Hennie, Chris O’ Dowd, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Debicki, and Roger Davies star with Julius Onah directing.
With the world having an energy crisis, a crew of astronauts representing different countries aboard a space station orbiting our planet use a particle accelerator (The Shepard) to create unlimited energy. After multiple attempts to fire up the accelerator ending in failure, the crew becomes successful and hits a milestone in creating a steady beam of energy but an overload of power creates a surge of energy, only to find the Earth has disappeared. Low on fuel and options, the crew has to figure out if the Earth has been displaced or if the space station is floating through infinite space and try to make it back home.
The Cloverfield Paradox (AKA Cloverfield Station, AKA God Particle) was under Paramount’s InSurge label early in its production with the idea of the film only having a 5 to 10 million dollar budget. After InSurge failed to launch and the production budget advancing near 45 million dollars, Paramount decided to release the film under its own banner. 10 Cloverfield Lane went through a similar release.
The cast does a solid job. We follow Ava (Mbatha-Raw) as our lead though the film with a healthy portion of the other crew members. While her story is tragic and tugs at your heart strings, there is a decision she makes that is pretty bone headed considering the situation the crew is in. After the character makes up her mind, she became unredeemable. Mina (DeBicki) is introduced in a very neat and disturbing way. There is also an interesting choice having Tam’s (Ziyi) dialogue all in her native tongue and the crew response in her language or in English.
The tone of the film isn’t consistent with Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane. Those films were more grounded (no pun intended). Even when crew members were getting picked apart, I didn’t feel anything. But I remembered hoping our characters in the aforementioned films escaping New York or escaping the underground bunker and wanting our characters to succeed.
SPOILER ALERT! As the main film takes place on the space station with the crew. We find out later in the film that Earth is still around, that the space station itself is has been displaced. We follow Ava’s husband Michael (Davies) and the aftermath of the particle accelerator possibly causing the events of the original Cloverfield movie as the monster is causing destruction in New York. These scenes with Michael could have been removed and made the film much more suspenseful, keeping you wondering if the world has been destroyed. There is a totally different movie and better movie here if these parts were cut.
I felt that slapping on the Cloverfield name on this movie may bring the eyes and attention that otherwise wouldn’t if the title remained God Particle. Attaching the Cloverfield moniker doesn’t mean automatic success. I believe fans of this universe are tired of the waiting or theorizing what this all means. While this type of surprise release should happen a lot more with other films, the film itself needs to be great. Not just good or average.