Cloverfield is an ominous franchise. When 10 Cloverfield Lane came in 2016 it was a massive surprise – from its short advertising campaign, the fact that it was an 8-year-old sequel, and the overall quality of the film led it to be one of the highlights of the year. If anyone is an NFL fan as well as a Cloverfield fan (this guy right here), Super Bowl Sunday was extra special, when it was announced that the Cloverfield Paradox – the third film in the series – would be streaming on Netflix immediately after the game. Marketing genius. The film on the other hand… not so genius.
Cloverfield’s best asset is its mystery and secrecy, and this holds true with this film, where a quality acting ensemble are held up in a space station trying to figure out how to solve the world’s energy crisis. Not a bad premise to set yourself on. You’re sitting there knowing something’s going to go wrong with what they’re doing, but it’s the aftermath that is the question. The ensuing insanity is a lazy, wasted opportunity, and overall doesn’t fit together – and the last point is my main issue with the film. I’m watching a Cloverfield movie, and even the brief advertising stated that this would reveal why the monster from the original Cloverfield came to be, but it’s obvious that there was a movie of sub-par quality that wasn’t going to make a profit at the box office, so they tacked on the Cloverfield name and spliced in reshoots and CGI so that the movie could fit the franchise.
It’s a movie presented as the vehicle to answer our burning questions from the first two movies, but gives one explanation for why everything has happened, which is extremely lazy writing, and then starts basically doing its own thing by leaving a load more questions for you as the viewer. It is quite glaring that the sub plot that takes place on Earth, with the main character’s husband was tacked on after they were near completion of the original filming of the film, and I was just left constantly asking like what is the actual point of this sub plot? It doesn’t go anywhere, and just has a few nods to the other movies, that’s it – totally unwarranted.
With rumours of a fourth film “Overlord” coming later in the year, it’s a question of will they learn from the mistakes made here? I assume they will, because of their apparent confidence to make this a theatrical release, but it doesn’t excuse what happened here. Congrats to Netflix and Paramount for making a spectacle of a straight to the bargain bin film getting released, but the effect it’ll likely have on the franchise is worth a bit more than the estimated budget of $40 million, I suspect. It was a brave decision to keep going with this project, especially with the amount of delays, apparent reshoots, etc. Would I recommend you watch it? If you’re a fan of Cloverfield and its background, sure go for it, but you’ll be disappointed. If you’re not a fan I think you’ll get more enjoyment out of it, but it still isn’t a good film, so it’s difficult to recommend it when you’re on Netflix sitting on a mountain stack of other good films.