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The Cloverfield Paradox


JJ Abrams has created something very interesting with his emerging "Cloverfield" brand. He dropped the original on audiences in 2008 with great success, spinning a handheld camera view of a giant monster's attack on New York City.

In 2016, he introduced "10 Cloverfield Lane" to theatres and found gold with a very different type of tale, with John Goodman as a recluse imprisoning strangers in his basement during the alien attack of the first film.

The two films were connected by the most obscure of tentacles and you began to sense that Abrams was creating a Twilight Zone brand for today, telling interesting stories with a hint of sci-fi, horror or suspense.

That brand takes a mild hit with the third entry in its family, 2018's THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX. Teased by commercials during the Eagles/Patriots Super Bowl and then released immediately after the game on Netflix for viewing, its a big budget, stellar cast entry.

As the cast kept arriving on screen, I was shocked by the star power.

Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds, Captain America: Civil War, Rush) stars as a German scientist orbiting the Earth in quest of a new energy ray that will save the dying planet.

The planet is out of natural energy and countries are descending into war over anything that's left.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones, Beauty and the Beast) is Hamilton, an American scientist whose left her husband and children at home to save their world.

David Oyelowo (fantastic as Martin Luther King in Selma) is also in the crew, as is Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids) and John Ortiz (Kong Island, Silver Linings Playbook).

For over two years, the crew attempts to fire up an energy ray from their orbiting space station. When it finally does engage (as these things so often do at the last moment), they are forced to deal with a time/space paradox they've created via the massive energy force.

People and things seem to have crossed dimensions, the space station itself seems to have a life of its own, a dismembered body part takes on a life and intelligence all its own.

Meanwhile, the story bounces back and forth to Hamilton's husband on Earth as the world begins to find itself under siege.

The film starts off well. It's interesting, its cast is stellar, the sets are terrific and special effects are first class.

Soon however, the narrative seems to spin off track. The Earth-bound scenes with the husband seem tacked on, meaningless to the overall plot and often confusing.

It feels like there is a much better movie lurking here somewhere, but by the end it all deflates into something much more routine than I've come to expect from the franchise.

Ortiz is completely wasted in a one-note role. Many of the intriguing mysteries the story seems to set up go nowhere or are dropped.

The editing is choppy and pedestrian.

Positive points for the music score by Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead) and voice appearances by Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) and Greg Grunberg (Heroes).

The final moments finally deliver a direct tie to CLOVERFIELD but by then it gets more of a shrug than a jaw drop.

I liked finding out the answer to what that was dropping from the sky into the ocean in the original film, but the film could have used a whole lot more of those moments.

The only paradox here is the amount of money spent on the project and the talent level of the cast versus the very disappointing final product.

We'll give it a C- and a meh......

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