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Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 06:19 pm

Nonsensical "Paradox" a "Cloverfield" Reject

 A funny thing happened amidst the hoopla that was Super Bowl LII.  Netflix ran the first trailer for The Cloverfield Paradox, the next entry in J.J. Abrams unorthodox sci-fi franchise…and then they announced it would premiere immediately after the game.  Whether this sort of surprise release strategy results in a large number of initial viewers remains to be seen.  The real question is what this approach means where the future of film distribution is concerned.

If the quality of Paradox means anything – and I think it does – this approach will be used anytime a major studio has to unload a film that didn’t quite live up to expectations.  The fact is, the movie isn’t very good, something I think Paramount Pictures has known for quite some time as it has had three different release dates that have all come and gone without Paradox, gracing any screens.  I’m assuming Netflix got the rights to screen the film for a song, obviously a price much cheaper than what a theatrical would cost, and Paramount, knowing that movies premiering on the streaming aren’t reviewed in advance, hoped to sneak one by viewers.

The crew of the Cloverfield space station make a grisly discovery in The Cloverfield Paradox.
Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Chances are, fans of the Cloverfield franchise will likely feel hoodwinked after taking in Paradox, an inert movie that contains a good idea or two but doesn’t know what to do with them.  Seems the world is suffering from a massive energy drought that has pushed various superpowers to the brink of war.  A group of scientists have been rocketed to the cosmos to a space station that, in theory, can harness some sort of energy that can be transferred to Earth.  Problem is, there’s a theory that if this were to be accomplished it may cause rifts in time, various dimensions to overlap and all sorts of other scientific anomalies.

The plot is far too complicated to get into here, and frankly, not worth it to tell the truth, but once all is said and done, the crew finds itself orbiting an alternate Earth, one member’s arm is severed and has a mind of its own, while an “and then there were none” approach is taken as the astronauts start getting knocked off one by one. 

Officer Mundy (Chris O'Dowd) meets a gruesome end in The Cloverfield Paradox.
Courtesy Paramount Pictures.

Paradox is reminiscent of last year’s Life, another misguided sci-fi actioner that also consisted of familiar plot tropes and the same lack of urgency.  The script by Oren Uziel makes little sense, as if he’s making up the science as he goes, and, once that other shoe drops, the manner in which Paradox fits into the Cloverfield universe is tenuous and comes off as a tacked on afterthought.

Curiously, the fourth film in the franchise, Overlord, is completed and scheduled to hit theaters a the end of October…that is unless it suddenly shows up on Netflix, which will tell us all we need to know where its quality is concerned.

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