The Cloverfield Paradox film review: surprise release success or sub-par spinoff?

The latest chapter in the Cloverfield franchise is a Netflix surprise but is it a pleasant one?

Nothing dates reviews quite like discussing the marketing surrounding a film, but when it comes to the Cloverfield franchise, the pre-release hoopla inevitably becomes part of the conversation regarding the final product.

During Super Bowl 2018, an ad revealing the title and first footage of The Cloverfield Paradox ran, announcing that the film would be available on Netflix once the game ended. This reveal followed rumours that the long-delayed movie, previously titled God Particle, would be skipping a cinema run from the franchise’s usual distributor, Paramount.

It’s quite the mic drop when it comes to movie marketing. Unfortunately, and excluding the encouraging choice to have a woman of colour (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) lead an effects-heavy sci-fi, that stunt may be the only positive part of this film’s legacy.

While 10 Cloverfield Lane connected to the original so loosely as to make the franchise an anthology series, Paradox, in its released form, comes across so blatantly as a standalone film that was backfitted to tie all three movies together. As such, what would ordinarily have just been a mediocre sci-fi is made worse by its forced ties.

That said, the main story’s got its own problems. A wasted cast of beloved actors play a space station crew trying to solve an energy crisis with a dangerous particle collider. Things go wrong and reality goes to hell, but the thinly-sketched characters hardly seem all that phased by the ramifications of the mind-blowing things happening around them – or the deaths of colleagues – as they zip through swift decision sacrifices and playing with time and space with barely a second’s thought. The plot’s so rushed that it almost feels like it takes place within just an hour.

Peppered throughout is a subplot down on Earth with one character’s husband that ultimately goes nowhere except to lead into the film’s final moments: an example of forced fan service so overt and embarrassing that it makes Marvel and DC’s credits stings look subtle.