Movie Mondays – The Cloverfield Paradox

What a ride! Not just for the characters in this movie, but for this site! I’ve been on a several-month-long hiatus and now I’m back (also similar to this movie)!

The Cloverfield Paradox is the third movie in the Cloverfield series of movies directed by J.J. Abrams, primarily starring Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror “San Juanipero”) among others. A multi-national team aboard a space station try to create an infinite source of energy to help power and save the world, but in doing so, they are transported to an alternate dimension.

PLOT – This movie, while cohesive, moves too fast for the audience to sometimes get. There is an end-goal, but how they get to it is kind of scattershot. “Go here, complete the task, something is wrong, fix it,” repeats the film. There are a several recycled points from Alien that I reviewed a while back, most notably characters dying off and a traitor in their midst (through, granted, I was fooled a few times), and a lot of “I saw that coming” moments, and a few, “You’re going to di–yep! You’re dead!” moments. I do admit, the character deaths are creative, and a lot of moments, while telegraphed, looked nice. There is also a sub-plot with characters on the ground but that is just to provide exposition to the audience and tie it in with the other films in the series, and really unneeded.

Also something to say that I kept thinking was that this was like a Black Mirror or other sci-fi spec script with the sub-plot tacked on, similar to how 10 Cloverfield Lane

(SPOILERS FOR 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE HERE)

… has aliens in the last 10 minutes of the film.

(END 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE SPOILERS HERE)

For a film in the Cloverfield series, it was pretty good, but third on my list, with the original being second and 10 Cloverfield Lane being the first (one of my top 5 favorite films of 2016 (maybe I’ll do Top Tens sometimes, who knows?)).

My PLOT RATING for The Cloverfield Paradox would be a 3/5. It recycles plot points from similar films and genres and nothing was really that much of a surprise.

CHARACTERS – Similar to the Alien movies, there is not much time to connect with the characters, but I must admit I learned to like a lot of them, actually better than the crew from Alien, simply because the film focused on all of the characters equally and gave them time alone instead of together. They were more characterized (possibly because they all were from different countries and were more distinguishable?) in this movie rather than the “mostly-American” Alien crew. Granted, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Alien, but I liked the characters more in this sci-fi movie. The characters in the sub-plot really have no importance except for exposition. Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Daniel Brühl were both really good in their roles, and the video/audio-message-scene with Gugu Mbatha-Raw was great and made me smile from ear to ear in triumph and empathy.

My CHARACTERS RATING for The Cloverfield Paradox would be a 4/5. The characters are elevated from their coutnerparts, and for the short while we see them, we learn more about them the longer they are on screen. Good casting and great acting elevate these characters from bland to more interesting.

SCRIPT – This is kind of your run-of-the-mill space station story, and it is reflected in the dialogue. A lot of lines from like films are repeated, but again, the characters shine through in the script. Most lines are forgettable and convoluted science jargon, but moments of snark and wit from members of the crew (something I am growing fond of (is this what Stockholm Syndrome is like in a world of snarky film characters?)) are there, but not enough to save the script from being mostly bland. Also to mention the imbalance of “science jargon” and “repetition to make sure the viewers know what is going on” is jarring. I do really like that ending recording monologue, though.

My SCRIPT RATING for The Cloverfield Paradox would be a 3/5. Good enough, but not as good as I had hoped. The witty lines (looking at you, Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd)) and end-monologue save this somewhat-convoluted script. I feel like the script does not know it’s audience-demographic quite yet and is still trying to decide.

EFFECTS – The same kind of CGI that we have come to know, but I really liked the use of lighting in this film. Reds, yellows, and lots of darkness with a little bit of white light at points, but a kind of “daybreak blue” kind of color-wash in most shots.

My EFFECTS RATING for The Cloverfield Paradox would be a 3/5. The lighting really saves this rating, and the CGI is kind of rote these days.

The Cloverfield Paradox

FINAL RATING: 65/100

FINAL THOUGHTS – I liked this film. It’s a sci-fi horror film that tries to be a lot of things at the same time – smart, funny, scary, tug-at-your-heartstrings, but in the end, it’s just another tried-and-true sci-fi plot (honestly, I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t Black Mirror) with slightly better characters, effects, and a larger budget.

I do look forward to see what J.J. Abrams brings to the screen after this though (hopefully the big screen)…

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