Cloverfield Producers Need to Look up Definition of Paradox

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Cloverfield Paradox

The Earth is having a critical energy crisis. It's only hope lies with the experiments on an orbiting space station, where an international group of astronauts tries to fire up a super collider. If they are successful, they will provide a limitless source of free energy.

Of course, they may also rip a whole in space time, interact with parallel realities, and unleash demons on the world -- but those are just the ravings of Internet conspiracist Mark Stambler (GOTHAM's DONAL LOGUE), a theory he calls "The Paradox."

After some unsuccessful attempts, the collider works -- and then overloads. And the Earth is gone, and common knowledge has gone with it.

Among the more chaotic things the crew discovers is a woman, Jensen (ELIZABETH DEBICKI), trapped in the walls of the ship. She's a member of the crew -- except they've never met her. And she knows all of them -- except for Tam (ZIYI ZHANG), the woman who holds her job on the crew. Wherever she's from, she has a special bond with crew member Ava Hamilton (GUGU MBATHA-RAW) -- whose never met her.

Parallel dimensions come into play here, and opportunities are presented for second chances. But as Ava contemplates whether or not to take advantage of the situation to rectify her life choices, the rest of the ship undergoes changes that defy the laws of physics, resulting in a string of bizarre deaths. That makes for some great use of visual effects, doing things just because they can, but it's not a paradox. And it's not even alternate laws of an alternate dimension, else they wouldn't be just as horrifying to Jensen, whose dimension presumably they have entered.

Meanwhile, on Earth, things are literally going to hell, as it appears that armies are mobilizing and invading, as they had been threatening to do. England is under attack, with buildings destroyed in fire. Charging into all of that is Michael, a doctor and Ava's (ex?) husband. But, of course, this is a Cloverfield film, so if you haven't seen the first two (and, no, they don't relate in any way, shape, or form) then the final shock scene may surprise you. Honestly, even for those who have seen them, this closing shot is still pretty damned cool.

But let's be honest. There's a good story being told here, but it gets overshadowed by all the effects-for-effects sake. The things that happen aren't paradoxes, as there is no causal relationship being violated, so much as they are pure non sequiturs, things that happen for no explainable reason at all -- things limbs getting eaten by the walls, only to show up later animated by themselves and possessing knowledge that came from...somewhere unexplained.

Despite all the cool-but-unexplained scenes of Julius Onah's film, the scenes are exceedingly well-acted by the cast, taking what they've been given and making the dramatic most of them. Chris O'Dowd masterfully takes each absurd scene and delivers it as though it's a perfectly normal thing to happen rather than freaking out hysterically.

There are many storylines happening here. Is there a spy on the ship intentionally sabotaging the firing up of the accelerator? Is Jensen there to help them or hurt them? And what will Ava finally decide when the moment comes to go home? These are the things that make THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX watching once, perhaps twice. But without the explanation for the supernatural events (other than the "anything can happen in a Cloverfield film" excuse), it doesn't have the evergreen level for multiple viewings.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0