The Cloverfield films are no stranger to odd marketing campaigns.
The first film’s trailer didn’t even have a title attached to it, leading to all kinds of speculation – some even believed it was to be a live action version of Voltron.
Add to that viral marketing campaigns, and the fact that the sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane wasn’t even revealed to be connected to the original until way down the line of production, and it is clear these films love experimenting with how movies are advertised.
We knew for a while that the next film in the “Cloververse”, The Cloverfield Paradox (formerly titled The God Particle) was on track to be released sometime this year, but as to where and when, it was uncertain.
Lo and behold, on the eve of Super Bowl LII it was revealed in a quick, 30 second commercial that not only was the film releasing on Netflix, it was releasing THAT NIGHT, right after the game.
But all of that aside, how is the film itself?
Cloverfield could be considered a somewhat underappreciated modern film franchise. With two great movies already under its belt, we don’t seem to hear about it as often as say, Marvel or DC – but that may be just how the creators like it. Each film is understated in its own unique way, while still bringing the pomp and circumstance you would expect from a giant monster movie or a taut, psychological thriller.
The Cloverfield Paradox is equal parts Aliens, Event Horizon, and Gravity, taking inspiration from many different types of sci fi staples and using them to great effect. There’s Ridley Scott tinged isolated tension, Cronenberg-esque body horror, and James Cameron space spectacle. It takes the best bits of other movies with similar settings and circumstances and uses them to great effect.
To summarise the plot, the crew of the Cloverfield is Earth’s last ditch effort to solve an impending energy crisis and stop humanity from tearing itself apart. Like any good experiment in space, things go horribly wrong, and the crew finds themselves struggling to get back home and fulfill their mission before the Earth descends into complete chaos.
It has an extremely credible cast, including Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror), David Oyelowo (Selma) and Daniel Bruhl (Captain America: Civil War), and they do an admirable job playing their respective archetypes (the leader, the funny one, the ‘Ridley”) but don’t extend too far from their established character roles. The effects are impressive, and the mystery of what has happened aboard the space station is more than enough to keep you invested for the 102 minute runtime.
But, there are points where you can feel the constraints of Netflix bearing down on The Cloverfield Paradox. With a shorter than typical theatrical runtime, certain elements are truncated out of necessity. If some tension is needed amongst the crew, it just happens. If two characters need to be at odds with each other, it just happens. While these limits are understandable, it does take you out of the otherwise engrossing narrative, if only for a brief moment.
There is also an interesting subplot going on alongside the main story, but it doesn’t impede on the main plot too much. A welcome break from the tension of the events on the space station, it provides added information about the situation on Earth.
While this is directly connected to the previous films, you don’t have to be a Cloverfield expert to understand the basic premise. But, consider this a recommendation to watch the previous two movies – not only will it help to enhance your experience watching this newest instalment, but they are great in their own right (and honestly? Far better than this one!).
Some questions about this world are answered, and others purposefully left unfulfilled – no doubt in preparation for the next in the series, Overlord, set to hit cinemas in October. But, this is the Cloverfield franchise, so don’t take anything for granted.
3 stars for The Cloverfield Paradox – it’s a great little sci-fi picture that will be lots of fun for fans of the franchise, and enjoyable enough for anyone just looking for a casual watch, but doesn’t stand up to the quality of the previous two.
The Cloverfield Paradox is now streaming on Netflix at time of publishing. Have a watch of the trailer below.