The Cloverfield Paradox (NC16)
Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo
Directed by Julius Onah
The JJ Abrams-produced Cloverfield movies has a history of secrecy. No one had any clue what the found-footage original was about when it came out a decade ago, and no one knew about its spin-off, 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, until two months before its release.
The third Cloverfield, however, was a different beast: This time everyone knew Abrams was making it, so the real question was when — and how — it was going to come out. Instead of the theatrical route (it was scheduled to open in June), it dropped on Netflix, shortly after the Super Bowl ended last Monday. Love the ninja move.
But enough with marketing strategy, is The Cloverfield Paradox any good? It concerns a team of international scientists trying to save Earth’s energy crisis by blasting a particle accelerator in space, an experiment if successful can create unlimited power, and if not, can undo reality and unleash chaos. (That monster in Cloverfield? Blame these guys.)
And guess what, poop does happen and what follows is no different than what we saw in Life and Alien: Covenant. In fact, I’m just going to partly repurpose my Life review — it still gets the job done.
This familiar, effectively mounted peril-in-space thriller is built on combining DNA from Alien and Sunshine (or Event Horizon, for you nerds). Think of it as a cover version of your favourite rock tune, one deftly played by a supergroup (Gugu Mbatha-Raw! Daniel Brühl! Chris O’Dowd! Zhang Ziyi! That golden skin lady from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2!)
There are a few surprises here and there (there’s a hilarious/harrowing Evil Dead moment with a severed appendage) but generally nothing we haven’t seen before. Still, the earnest performances keep the emotional stakes high. I’m so glad I saw this at home. (**1/2)