Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo
Director: Julius Onah
Running Time: 102 mins
The Cloverfield Paradox is an American film about a team of scientists aboard a space station who find themselves isolated from Earth after an experiment to save the planet from depleted energy resources goes horribly wrong.
Another unexpected link to the Cloverfield Universe, The Cloverfield Paradox is yet another brilliant, intense, mysterious and intelligent addition to the series. Although it features the same sort of unsettling mystery as Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, this film is a much larger-scale, action-packed extravaganza, all the while featuring yet another enthralling, unpredictable story that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
Let’s start off with what sets this apart from the series. Cloverfield was a found-footage monster movie, while 10 Cloverfield Lane was a claustrophobic mystery-thriller. This time, it’s a big, outer space action sci-fi, taking place on a much bigger scale than any of the films before it.
In that, there are some of the most impressive visuals of any Cloverfield movie, with vistas of outer space on a similar level to the likes of Gravity, while the film as a whole features a far more breakneck pace than either of its predecessors, all of which make it a massively entertaining watch from start to finish.
Combine that new large-scale action with the typical brains, twists, mystery and unpredictability of previous Cloverfield movies, and you have what is easily the most accessible film of the series. I won’t spoil anything, but the plot here is an excellent combination of outlandish sci-fi thrills and spills with the intense claustrophobia that 10 Cloverfield Lane pulled off so well.
As a result, you can watch this film in more ways than one. It’s an entertaining and massively exciting sci-fi blockbuster, but you can scale things down and watch it as yet another claustrophobic, character-driven thriller, which is what really made the film so good for me.
From the film’s very opening, there’s a distinct air of tension between the scientists on board the space station, setting up the premise for a darker drama in which suspicion runs rife within the small crew from seven different countries.
So, along with the massive action and sci-fi thrills, there’s still real depth and intelligence to the dramatic story, centring on Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, and offering up something that’s just as emotionally riveting as it is an exciting sci-fi blockbuster, taking the film to another level, and making it truly worth the watch.
While we’re talking about Mbatha-Raw, she puts in an excellent lead performance. Likable, convincing and very strong on screen, she makes her rather down-to-earth character a riveting watch while up in space, and holds her own alongside her fellow all-star cast, with the likes of Daniel Brühl, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo and Chris O’Dowd all bringing a fantastic range of characters and personalities to the crew on board, with just enough contrasts to keep that interpersonal tension brewing strongly throughout.
So, with great performances, brilliant visuals, excellent action and sci-fi thrills, and a dramatic story to boot, The Cloverfield Paradox proves yet another fantastic addition to this mysterious franchise, furthered by a subtle but consistently exciting atmosphere that promises to link into the wider ‘Cloververse’, and provide answers to some of its greatest mysteries.
I really enjoyed this film, but if I were to have any complaints, I would say that it’s the most structurally orthodox and basic film of the franchise. Cloverfield’s found-footage usage made it brilliantly unique, while spending almost the entirety of 10 Cloverfield Lane in an underground bunker made it an exceptionally claustrophobic and intense thriller.
The Cloverfield Paradox, on the other hand, could be more easily lumped in with the overall ‘sci-fi’ genre, given how similar it feels at times to the likes of Life, Alien and Prometheus. With the exception of its darker thrills and insane action and ideas, there is something a little more generic and simple about this film, which meant I wasn’t quite as blown away or deeply intrigued as I have been in the previous two Cloverfield movies.
Overall, however, The Cloverfield Paradox is yet another brilliantly unexpected delight to add to the series. It’s got brains and depth alongside its larger-scale action and sci-fi exploits, while a deeper sense of mystery alongside a wide range of great performances keeps good tension bubbling throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.1.