Released on Netflix during the late hours of Sunday night, Cloverfield: Paradox was guaranteed a smaller opening night audience than its ship’s crew, as North America recovered from the simultaneous hype of a new Jenner and… ah, the Super Bowl.
Writing from the snowy depths of Western Massachusetts, this writer assumed that Monday evening could hardly be more depressing than watching Brady and co snatch defeat from the jaws of victory alongside 60 diehard Patriots fans.
They were wrong.
My running theory is that the team behind Paradox realised roughly halfway through post-prod that they’d forgotten to include a script.
“I thought you had that covered. Hold on, let me check the Google Doc- oh yeah. That’s my bad.”
After a boozy crisis-solving session at the tailgate on Sunday afternoon, they came to the reasonable conclusion that the only option would be to secretly release the trailer and film in exactly 6 hours, when the post-game parties/wakes (delete as applicable) would be in full swing.
As a publicity dodging curveball, it worked like magic. However, the Paradox team didn’t account for one crucial snag: hungover critics rising on Monday morning with a pounding head and an appetite for destruction.
And so the bloodbath began.
I’d love to stop pontificating, but I truly have no idea where to begin with this spaceship-shaped car crash of a film. Okay let’s start simple: the title. Actually, simpler: the franchise. Cloverfield. Seems easy enough?
Number one was an understated found footage monster horror. Number two was a claustrophobic thriller remembered for John Goodman’s astonishingly good performance as a helper-turned-hunter, loosely slotted into the Cloverfield universe during its rather peculiar final third.
Number three goes the extraordinarily thoughtful length of naming its ship ‘Cloverfield’ and seems to think that’s enough to tick the franchise box. That’s like naming a coach ‘Lion King’ and setting the remake on a Megabus.
It’s. Not. Okay.
Franchise abdication aside, Paradox doesn’t even hold water as a standalone galactic adventure. The crew are cold-war era caricatures, the cinematography follows a comatose medium-close-up-shot-of-space-shot-of-the-ship’s-interior formula, and the soundtrack doesn’t little to alleviate the crushing sense of predictability.
In space, no one can hear you snore.
The doubtlessly talented cast do their best to encourage the withered writing to excel, but sadly their genuine effort is undermined by unexplained worms and disappearing arms. Think The Chamber of Secrets crossed with The Last Airbender set in space and you get the general picture.
The exposition reaches surreal levels of laziness, exemplified by a TV channel – screened on the ship – discussing the potential catastrophic consequences of the mission as the crew fiddle around with meaningless switches.
“Turn that shit off” snaps one of the instantly forgettable characters, in the most appropriate line of the film.
One small step for man, one giant sleep for mankind.