The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

The Cloverfield series seems to consist of JJ Abram’s production company Bad Robot picking up science-fiction movies that would possibly not fare too well upon release, adding (at the script level, or filming level through reshoots) connections to the 2008 Cloverfield movie, then releasing with some sort of innovative marketing strategy making a point of the time between the film’s marketing and trailer and the film’s release being tantalisingly short. The connections are loose, functioning more like a cinematic Twilight Zone series than direct sequels, but grow a bit stronger with this film.

The Cloverfield Paradox (originally “The God Particle” pre-connection to the Cloverfield series, just as 10 Cloverfield Lane was originally “The Cellar”) is a less successful experiment than 10 Cloverfield Lane in terms of the film itself, but more fascinating and likely successful in terms of marketing and release. The film’s first trailer and (more or less) official announcement occurred during the 2018 Super Bowl, where it proudly stated the film itself would drop on Netflix just two hours later. I’m an enormous fan of this sort of release strategy, minimising the long wait times between a film’s prolonged marketing and its actual release. It gives the film a purity and singularity of experience.

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The film itself is much less original than its release strategy. It’s a fairly typical “people in a space station slowly get picked off by a threat” film. Some of the cast members do pretty good work (Chris O’Dowd makes some of the genre and tonal whiplash his character is at the suffering end of almost work). The production values are nice enough too, especially given the film’s (initially) small budget. The score is probably the films out-and-out strongest element, it really is quite good.

The film does smartly do a bit of reshuffling around the mechanics of the Cloverfield series, although it could have benefited from being a tad less coy, especially given how direct it goes in its ending. It’s a competent film that doesn’t really rise above its station except for its release strategy and its connections to other, better films. Two and a half worms, and an arm.

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