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  Cloverfield Paradox, The Death Dimension
Year: 2018
Director: Julius Onah
Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Chris O'Dowd, Aksel Hennie, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies, Clover Nee, Donal Logue, Suzanne Cryer, Ken Olin, Simon Pegg, Greg Grunberg
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: There is a worldwide energy crisis which means international tensions are running high, power cuts are an all-too-common occurrence, and scientists are under great pressure to provide a solution. It just so happens this could be around the corner, for a space station kitted out with high technology is now orbiting the Earth, designed to harness cosmic energy and channel it down to the surface, thus offering an unlimited source of energy and soothing humanity's worried brow. Among the seven-person crew is Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who has channelled her own energies into this project after a family tragedy; to keep going she keeps in touch with her husband (Roger Davies).

But that link to sanity is about to be severed when their giant gizmo succeeds in its purpose, though also has an unfortunate side effect. The Cloverfield Paradox was not originally going to be connected to the Cloverfield universe at all, until J.J. Abrams decided he could work his production magic on it and ordered reshoots to whip it into shape. These movies were becoming like episodes of an ongoing television series, so it was appropriate that this end result was debuted on Netflix and bypassed cinemas entirely. Yet that could set off alarm bells as well, since you might have your expectations lowered when it looked as if the creators didn't have enough faith in it overall.

Therefore its internet-ready premiere couldn't help but reduce the film to a gimmick, a promotion for the streaming service, which not only did it a disservice but also had a lot of users watching it out of curiosity and wondering what the fuss was about, even those who had enjoyed the first two big screen instalments. In truth, this effort, originally titled God Particle before the Bad Robot studio got their hands on it, wasn't so bad, it simply lacked a clear concept as Cloverfield (found footage giant monster) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (trapped in a bunker) had, more of a mishmash of parallel universe ideas that were presented with a degree too much confusion than was really necessary.

Certainly, a mystery was not a bad idea in science fiction, even horror inflected such as this, but when the solution was muddled in a series of running around action sequences you had the impression somewhere in the edit had been a more coherent narrative. Either that or Abrams and company had done their best to assemble a cut that had made more sense than its first incarnation had and added scenes back on our Earth to tie it up to the franchise, which was a possibility. The issue with that was one of those additions was a Donal Logue cameo, as he appeared on a news broadcast purely to explain that the energy research could rip a hole in space/time and allow all sorts of nasties through into our plane of existence; as this was early on in the story it left the rest of the movie feeling like an afterthought.

No matter how much Hamilton's husband struggled on the ground, we never had the conviction he was essential to what we were seeing in space, particularly when the station kicks off its power surge and winds up in another set of dimensions, not unlike the Star Trek: Discovery plotline that perhaps not coincidentally was running on Netflix at the same time as this release. There followed a bunch of scenes of the international cast (movies set on space stations were handy for generating interest across the globe with various stars from various territories showing up) attempting to divine what was happening and how they could reverse it to return home, which was all very well but came across as needlessly complicated when you were unsure if there was a malevolent intelligence orchestrating the mayhem, or if it was the terrible consequence of straying into the Almighty's domain as in countless mad science flicks of yesteryear. It was professionally done, nicely designed as far as its sets and effects went, but undernourished in the big ideas stakes. Music by Bear McCreary.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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