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Netflix squanders Super Bowl hype on lackluster ‘Cloverfield: Paradox’

%27Cloverfield%3A+Paradox%27+jumbles+a+wide+variety+of+science+fiction+tropes+and+genre+conventions.
'Cloverfield: Paradox' jumbles a wide variety of science fiction tropes and genre conventions.

'Cloverfield: Paradox' jumbles a wide variety of science fiction tropes and genre conventions.

'Cloverfield: Paradox' jumbles a wide variety of science fiction tropes and genre conventions.

@gavincquinn

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With “The Cloverfield Paradox,” Netflix wastes a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy on a dime-a-dozen mediocre sci-fi thriller. The film dropped post-Super Bowl like a fresh Beyonce album, sparking hype and interest with its innovative release. The ingenuity of the release is matched by the film’s lack thereof. 

“The Cloverfield Paradox” feels extremely derivative of sci-fi thriller classics like “Alien” or “Event Horizon.” There’s something to be said for being influenced by previous artistic greats, but in the case of “Cloverfield Paradox,” wearing your influences so brightly on your sleeve is more like living under the shadow of something much greater. Narratively, it’s as though the film is walking you through the established plot beats of better movies. At times, I wondered if the screenplay was written with a tvtropes.com tab open.

That’s not to say all movies have to be groundbreaking or revolutionary in their fields. If you’re going to run the wheel though, at least make sure it’s a well-oiled machine. “Cloverfield Paradox” is a creaky beast, offering almost no new takes on its traditional genre tropes. Even die-hard fans of the genre might be hard-pressed to find something really enjoyable here.  

I suppose the film’s ideas and ambitions could be admired: make a sci-fi film with the thrills of “Alien” and the emotional tug of “Interstellar.” Unfortunately, the film’s execution doesn’t hold up to the weight. The horror is more shock value than genuinely unnerving and hardly lasting; the stirring plot threads are introduced far too late to impact audiences, even the characters are so thinly written that their only distinguishing features are their origin country’s flag on their clothing.

On a technical level, “Cloverfield Paradox” is almost really impressive. Some of the more epic-scope shots of space attempt a feeling of grandeur that is never quite achieved because the shot compositions never live up. The set design, while looking expensive and futuristic, has way too much going on to make for any memorable settings.

Sound gets the real short end of the stick here; so much beeping and whirring goes on in the background without ever quite mixing with the actors’ voices. Combine this with frenzied backgrounds and character accents that feel more like caricatures than actual human voices and you have a mess of a scene where instead of there being genuine confusion and terror, the only confusion is “what did that character say?” and the terror is “I still have 86 minutes left before I can write this review.”

For those looking for more slow-building thrills found in “10 Cloverfield Lane,” look elsewhere; if looking for the horror of space, try “Alien” or “Event Horizon”, if you’re looking for a good movie, try about anything else.

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Netflix squanders Super Bowl hype on lackluster ‘Cloverfield: Paradox’