“The Cloverfield Paradox” is a lifeless, predictable sci-fi “thriller” that you’ve seen done far better many times before. It feels like a lame episode of “Black Mirror” or a dumbed-down version of sharper, smarter genre films. It’s as if director Julius Onah and writer Oren Uziel sat down, compiled a list of great science fiction films, and checked them off one by one as they proceeded to rip them off. There are far too many copycat themes and even similar scenes from classics like “Alien,” “Interstellar,” “Life,” “Another Earth,” and more to simply call it an “homage.”
The film is set on a space station with a global crew of astronauts (including Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, and David Oyelowo) who are working to solve Earth’s energy crisis (and to prevent the world war that’s soon to break out). For some reason that’s never quite explained, the key to solving this problem is a giant laser “Particle Accelerator” cannon that they use to blow up stuff. They try multiple times and fail but the one time this contraption actually works, something goes horribly wrong and all hell breaks loose.
The problem isn’t with the performances, it’s with the script. The cast does their best, struggling to plod through the weak material. There’s little mystery and zero intrigue, with underdeveloped characters that don’t really matter much in the grand scheme of the story. The plot is in complete disarray early on and while the draggy story starts out mildly interesting, it quickly goes far, far downhill. There are half-baked, messy twists that are stuffed in the film simply for effect (“Wait, is this getting too predictable? Let’s have a crew member vomit worms!”) and there is an embarrassing, haphazard, and lazy attempt to loosely tie it together with the rest of the “Cloverfield” universe. Each and every sci-fi cliché you anticipate is here, which makes this film incredibly dull.
“The Cloverfield Paradox” is not smart enough, not thrilling enough, and the whole story feels like a cop out born from marketing hype rather than one grown from well thought out scientific reasoning. It’s a dud.