Bold moves can very often be misinterpreted…
In a first, debuting after the Super Bowl last year and what many people were anticipating as an eventual theatrical release, The Cloverfield Paradox debuted on the Netflix streaming service in a shocking move that actually plays in its favor as this is some high concept science-fiction that would have died at the box office but now not only still on Netflix but also on fresh at retailers on Blu-Ray, the film now has an avenue for it’s often messy but fascinating layers to play out better on a smaller platform.
The world is on the brink, resources are running low and countries are lining up for war in an effort to survive. However hope rests on the members of the Cloverfield Space Station orbiting high above the earth for testing of the Shepard Particle Accelerator which could in theory provide an infinity source of energy for everyone on the planet. However pundits fear it could create The Cloverfield Paradox which could open up a gateway to alternate dimensions and whatever unspeakable horrors lie in them. After nearly two years of testing, they successfully fire the Shepard…or so they thought, because now they can’t find the earth and things are starting to get a little strange on the space station.
Yeah, it’s a mess…but it’s certainly not one without some merit as it does try to draw a threw line to the other Cloverfield efforts and present some pretty upscale concepts that get lost due to an uneven pace and an ultimately overcast film.
We’ll be the first to grant that any science fiction that doesn’t start in Star and end in Wars or Trek is one hell of a hard sell, but director Julius Onah is saddled with an awkward pacing from minute one that really doesn’t invite anyone from outside the series to jump in but it purposely sets a very specific tone for us to buy into.
It looks fine and the narrative moves at a pace that is actually a little too frenetic as this film actually needed more room and setup in order for us to really buy into everything that was going. It’s almost a little too subtle at times and it doesn’t take much to get a little lost, which ironically is practically a staple of quality high concept science fiction.
The script from Oren Uziel isn’t without some potential but does feel like it’s going out of its way too be a little TOO high concept. Together Onah and Uziel give us something fairly messy, but still fairly compelling to the most fervent of science-fiction fan boys it just leaned a little too hard to Andrei Tartovsky territory when it felt like it should have been a little more populist and accessible. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it makes for something that is hard to pigeonhole and ultimately sell.
Filled with a surprisingly strong crew of character actors lead by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, you can easily tell that the entire ensemble is doing everything in their power to try and elevate the material as best as they can. There’s something legitimate on the table here, but it’s one you really have to go digging for as some of these characters are actually a little superfluous, only sticking around to have somewhat of a spectacular death. Mbatha-Raw actually has an emotional arc that she has to go through and it ties in nicely to the main crux of the narrative, but it would have been nice to see any of the other players be invested in all the proceedings as she was. With an ensemble that includes the likes of Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo, Aksel Henne, Elizabeth Debicki, John Ortiz and Zhang Ziyi you can feel the pedigree of everyone in the project but it never quite feels like we get the maximum out of the material.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are solid as expected and the special features include a decent little behind-the-scenes making of look at The Cloverfield Paradox and good profile of the loaded ensemble of the film.
Science-Fiction junkies will get just enough out of The Cloverfield Paradox to get interested by it and get our imaginations running for the next installments, but you can’t help but feel like something a little more high minded and ambitious is bouncing around in all this material. It’s just another piece of the Cloverfield puzzle but we’ve reached the point that audiences are actually looking for answers in this franchise rather than more questions.