By the looks of it, the entire The Cloverfield Paradox marketing budget was spent on this year’s Super Bowl halftime advertising slot and nothing else. They had no posters, no promotional interviews, talk show appearances – not even a single trailer till yesterday. I’ll have to admit that it was a brilliant piece of ambush marketing. The only thing is, the movie couldn’t live up to the hype.
Which is actually rather disappointing considering the pedigree that is headlining the film. We have Daniel Bruhl a.k.a. Baron Zemo, not to mention Gugu Mbatha-Raw of the Black Mirror episode “San Junipero”. There is even Zhang Ziyi and the critically acclaimed David Oyelowo.
But instead of making good use of a pretty good cast with some decent acting chops, the producers throw one cliche after another at them and relegate them to another episode of “Who gets the most interesting death?”.
The premise is shrouded in mystery (because JJ. Abrams deems it so) but what we do know is that it ties into the previous two Cloverfield movies, albeit loosely. It is set slightly before the events of the first one and attempts to explain why we have giant Chthulu-like monsters rampaging on Earth.
Paradox takes place aboard a space station where a new particle reactor that could be an unlimited source of energy for the resource-depleted Earth is being tested. Something goes awry (as it always should) and our crew of scientists ends up lost in space.
The “stuck in a tin can in space” genre has been done to death in everything from Sunshine to Life and even Event Horizon. Something always goes wrong and it is up to the crew to fix the problem and either 1) get home or 2) complete the mission.
It is the cast of characters and the scriptwriting that makes or breaks a genre movie like this. Unfortunately, Cloverfield Paradox has only one half of the winning formula. Only one character is fleshed out and that is Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). We learn about her backstory but no one else’s.
All the other members of this motley crew are pushed to the sidelines so we feel nothing much when they are offered up as sacrifice to the scriptwriting gods. And while I do enjoy a bit of Chris O’Dowd in my movies, he feel out of place in the ensemble as he plays his engineer character just like his character Roy from The IT Crowd.
If only Richard Ayoade had voiced the ship’s computer, that would have been perfect.
I can understand why this bit of ambush marketing was employed as the movie doesn’t have the legs to stand on its own. The Cloverfield brand is simply tacked on to grab the attention that it would otherwise have missed out on. Frankly, it is really thanks to the marketing and Netflix that this film is getting any attention at all.
I have this theory that Abrams and gang’s only plan for the Cloverfield franchise is to hop into as many genres as possible before the audience catches onto what they’re doing. I’m now desperately looking forward to Cloverfield: The Musical and The Last Cloverfield Hero.
The Cloverfield Paradox is streaming on Netflix now.