In the not too distant future, the world is suffering an energy crisis. The world’s space agencies unite and build the Shepherd, a particle accelerator which is being tested onboard the Cloverfield Space Station.
Netflix and J.J. Abrams have a fetish for catching people off guard. Secrecy works for me, especially when it pays off. The first Cloverfield’s marketing was pure genius. A few glimpses of destruction, panic, the Statue of Liberty’s head rolling down the street. Enough to get your attention but not so much it becomes overwhelming. To Abrams’ credit, it has worked and there have been good movies released. 10 Cloverfield Lane was written with tension, amazing performances and a tight script. The shoe-horned ending was alright if it didn’t have Cloverfield in the title it could have gone either way.
Now we have the no-teasing-no-hiding Cloverfield Paradox, which dropped into our laps right after the Superbowl, or just any other day for the rest of us.
So how does this spiritual successor/distant cousin hold up?
First off the bat, the performances are the standout of the show, Ava Hamilton (Mbatha-Raw) is the Brit and lead heroine, David Oyelowo as Kiel the commander, Ziyi Zang as Tam, one of the physicists, Chris O’ Dowd as the Irish engineer, Volkov (Aksel Hennie) as the Russian, Daniel Bruhl as the German, John Ortiz as the religious one. They are what sell the movie if only it wasn’t drawn back by its own lack of originality.
The set-up is top notch. While all precautions have been taken, the Shepherd particle accelerator is being tested in space. Conspiracy theorists believe it could rip a hole in space or create a paradox which could bring anything back, giant monsters say, or open a portal into hell.
So after we’re introduced to the crew, they fire up the accelerator and boom! In one of the best played out sequences, they realise that the Earth is gone. Soon after, strange things start to happen onboard. Limbs become loose, bodies bloat, strangers appear, while on Earth, it seems Michael Bay and his explosions are having a go.
The problem with the film is although the cast sells it, we’ve sadly seen this all before. No doubt through this review other movies would have come to mind, the same thing happened while watching it. Despite a few neat visual touches-and some lens flares- there isn’t much “wow” factor. And what about Clovie, the kaiju from the first movie? It could be around, looming in the background as Ava’s husband desperately gets to shelter back on Earth. Somewhere close to the middle though is where it feels they came up with the idea to add this movie to this specific universe. Once everything becomes all too familiar retread.
A fun, safe and familiar ride.