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The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/5/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/4/2019
In 1982, John Carpenter and Debra Hill released Halloween III: Season of the Witch, a film which was intended to be the first in an annual series of movie which presented various tales centered around October 31st. However, this plan quickly came to an end when an uninformed public turned on the movie as it didn’t contain Michael Myers. Undeterred (or perhaps unaware) of this failure, J.J. Abrams decided to produce a series of (essentially) unrelated movies which had Cloverfield in the title, beginning with the eponymous classic released in 2008. This was followed by the abysmal 10 Cloverfield Lane in 2016. Two years later, The Cloverfield Paradox premiered on Netflix. Does this represent an improvement in the series, or does it support the premise that most movies which debut on Netflix aren’t very good?
The world is experiencing a crippling energy crisis. The only hope lies on-board a space station called “Cloverfield”. There the Shepard particle accelerator is being tested. If it is successful, it will mean a new dawn of unlimited energy. The international crew, consisting of Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Kiel (David Oyelowo), Schmidt (Daniel Bruhul), Monk (John Ortiz), Mundy (Chris O’Dowd), Volkov (Askel Hennie), and Tam (Ziyi Zhang), have endured month after month of failed experiments, each time convinced that they’ve solved the problem. Desperate to complete their mission, they fire up the beam again, and it actually remains relatively steady. However, when it fails again, the crew experience something more than disappointment. They realize that they can no longer see the Earth. On top of that, mysterious things begin to appear and disappear throughout the space station. Is this some sort of side-effect from the experiment?
With The Cloverfield Paradox, we get another sequel (mostly) in name only. As with 10 Cloverfield Lane, it was apparently a script entitled God Particle which was changed to a Cloverfield movie. And, again, just like 10 Cloverfield Lane, those hoping for an actual sequel to Cloverfield will be disappointed. If J.J. Abrams wants to oversee the making of moderately-budgeted science-fiction films, that’s fine. But, please stop allowing us to think that we’re finally going to get to see more of the monster which ravaged New York City.
As for The Cloverfield Paradox, it’s not a bad movie per se, it simply isn’t a very original or focused one. It takes a very familiar multi-verse story and does very little with it. Once the audience learns what is happening on the ship, any notion of a true plot goes out the window. It incorporates clichés from every trapped on a spaceship/space station movie, from the production design to the issues with life support, hull breaches, etc. What we get instead is a movie which plays like a series of “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If?...” scenes which are barely linked together. Are these scenes cool? Yes, at least the one with the water in the airlock is. The rest are OK, and the movie really runs with the idea that if anything can happen, then logic isn’t important. These scenes are edited-together with multiple moments showing Hamilton’s husband (Roger Davies) back on Earth. These scenes seem like intrusive fodder until the finale.
If nothing else, The Cloverfield Paradox is better than 10 Cloverfield Lane, but that bar had been set pretty low. Again, the movie isn’t bad, it’s just nothing special, which may explain why it appeared on a streaming service. The film certainly doesn’t look cheap, the cast of recognizable faces do a good job, and the pacing works well. However, literally the last second of the movie is the only part of The Cloverfield Paradox which is essential viewing. Otherwise, you’re better off sticking with the similar Life.
The Cloverfield Paradox also owes a debt to Evil Dead 2 on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 28 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works very well and truly adds to the shots of the station’s long corridors, and the level of detail is notable. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a movie which didn’t make it to theaters, this is a muscular track which delivers strong subwoofer and surround effects. The bass is strong and the surround and stereo effects are nicely detailed.
The Cloverfield Paradox Blu-ray Disc contains two extra features. “Things Are Not As They Appear: The Making of The Cloverfield Paradox” (14 minutes) kicks off with comments from Director Julius Onah and Screenwriter Oren Uziel who talk about the inspirations of and the approach to the story. From there, the piece explores the look of the space station and the construction of the sets. Finally, we get some comments from the cast about the story. “Shepard Team: The Cast” (15 minutes) delivers interviews with the actors who talk about their characters and their views on the material.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long