Written by Rohan Angus – Student Pages Entertainment Journalist
The third-instalment to the growing mystery that is the ‘Cloverfield’ franchise has definitely divided opinion – the majority of certified critics have illustrated the film as a massive failure, especially when compared to its premium predecessors. Though this is inarguable, audiences within the community seem to be split in the final verdict for ‘The Cloverfield Particle’; as was I until now.
The Netflix surprise follows a crew of 7 aboard the doomed ‘Cloverfield Station’, of which is subject to solving the Earth’s energy crisis in a last-gasp mission to save the planet from its foreseeable grave. In doing so, the team of scientists unlock a collision of dimensions resulting in horrifying realties for the eight-billion left on earth, as well the inhabitants of the station.
Those who are fans of the franchise will have a defined understanding of why this instalment is disappointing, as watching both ‘Cloverfield’ and ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ allows significant room for comparison. As a stand-alone sci-fi flick, the film totally works and would be receiving a larger portion of positive reviews – hear me out. Though overwhelmingly brief, the marketing for this instalment hailed the production as an answer-sheet to all questions developed from the prequels; some were answered as basic reasoning for how the different creatures reached our planet, but unfortunately, the third edition merely created more irritating queries that continue to ramble on in my head.
Through reading other critics’ pieces on the production, it is apparent that this annoyance is emboldened throughout many of the negative writings – hence why I stated the film would be warmly welcomed if it was just your average space thriller, albeit not a great one.
Aside from this disappointing aspect, I did have issues with the conflicting tones of the film – Chris O’Dowd what have you done? The crew within the station were as black-and-white as they come; ‘The Funny Guy’, ‘The Suspicious One’, ‘The Admirable Captain who eventually sacrifices themselves for the sake of the crew…one’. The characters were far too familiar, bearing great resemblance to the crew in Danny Boyle’s smash-hit ‘Sunshine’. This familiarity lead to unfortunate predictability, grudgingly waiting for Mundy’s (O’Dowd) slow-wit to ruin suspenseful and would-be frightening moments.
Despite the multiple negatives, ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ remains a film that I’d hate to hate – roll-on the positives. The film is repaired by a truly blissful soundtrack from composer Bear McCreary whom had previously worked on ‘The Walking Dead’ and the 2017 horror ‘Happy Death Day’. A clear knack for building tension was thoroughly emphasised in his recent work, which is perhaps the best aspect within the 1h 40m run-time. As well as this, the performance from lead Gugu Mbatha-Raw was a stand-out, especially when next to the intolerable Irishman. Delivering flawlessly, the ever-growing actress was perfect in transcending the emotion and grief surrounding her family – however, this again can be translated as a bad aspect for the film, as it outshined the remaining cast due to their laughable renditions of what was already an ill-fitting script.
‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ feels like an inexcusably underwhelming instalment to the fascinating franchise. The thriller was filled with surprisingly weak performances from the likes of Daniel Bruhl and Chris O’Dowd whom unfortunately acted alongside a near-corny dialogue. The visuals were foreseeably appreciable and deserve credit, as does the soundtrack and sound effects, but none of the minor positives can make the third instalment anything above an average sci-fi thriller. I would’ve like to see more from Kiel (Hamilton’s Husband, Roger Davies) as he was situated in the heart of the horrors; we were only teased with the sinister shadows of our skyscraper monster, it would’ve been a hell of a lot more entertaining to witness the scenes unfolding behind the fire and smoke rather than sit-through eye-rolling sub-plots and unoriginal death scenes. Tell me O’Dowd’s death was not reflective of Ryan Reynold’s scarring exit in ‘Life’, or that Volkov’s demise was not annoyingly reminiscent of the chestburster introduction in 1979’s ‘Alien’.
Nevertheless, I would still render Paradox as a watchable film, or at least the small grin-jerking tease in the final scene makes it a tad worthwhile.
Follow Rohan at @rs_reviews