In a very ambitious move, Netflix goes the sci-fi route with the surprise release of The Cloverfield Paradox, the third film from the Cloverfield franchise that connects Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). This installment is set in space and is meant to tie the three films together. The result is a thrilling watch that proposes an interesting premise and great storytelling.
The Cloverfield Paradox is set in 2028, where the Earth is undergoing a global energy crisis. Space agencies attempt to solve this by testing the Shepard particle accelerator at the Cloverfield space station, which can provide the Earth with infinite energy. After many failed starts, the team thinks they have achieved a stable beam, but it overloads and they are transported to an alternate dimension. What follows is a heart-pounding look at the space station, where the team must fight to fix the accelerator and go back to their version of the Earth.
Leading the team as the voice of reason is Ava Hamilton, the team’s communications officer, played by the brilliant Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She is the tough woman who holds the place together even as everything is falling apart. She gets a great story arc later on when we learn more about her family. None of the other characters enjoy the same amount of character development, but the dynamics shared between David Oyelowo as Kiel, the American commander of the station; Daniel Brühl as Ernst Schmidt, a German physicist; John Ortiz as Monk Acosta, the station’s Brazilian doctor, Chris O’Dowd as Mundy, an Irish engineer; Aksel Hennie as Volkov, a Russian engineer; and Zhang Ziyi as Tam, a Chinese engineer was enjoyable to watch.
The film is based on God Particle, a speculative screenplay written by Oren Uziel that is unconnected to the Cloverfield films. The Cloverfield Paradox can stand on its own and does until we see the last scene that connects it to the first in the franchise (I haven’t seen 10 Cloverfield Lane). I believe it’s the ambiguity of the first film that made it such a hit, but I guess the creators wanted to create a mythos that could spawn more films. Looking at it from this perspective, it works as Paradox neatly explains the monsters that terrorized New York City in Cloverfield.
The Cloverfield Paradox may have had its negative reviews but it’s an integral part in the Cloverfield franchise as it explains the events in the two previous films (which are probably set in alternate dimensions). The ending shows that there’s more to come in the future. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the other dimensions.