Having one of your most anticipated films of the year magically pop up on Netflix doesn’t happen every day.
Synopsis: After a scientific experiment aboard the space station involving a particle accelerator has unexpected results, the astronauts find themselves isolated. Following their horrible discovery, the space station crew must fight for survival. (IMDB)
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, and Daniel Brühl
Writers: Oren Uziel and Doug Jung
Director: Julius Onah
Running Time: 102mins
For those who don’t know, though the film may have “Cloverfield” in the title, it wasn’t originally a Cloverfield film. Similar to 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, this film’s original story was reworked in order for it to fit within the Cloverfield universe. While the reworking in that film felt a little too tact on (especially at the end), this film’s reworking also felt tact on in that it was simply more of a generic sci-fi film with a Cloverfield-y coat of paint. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it’s insertion into the Cloverfield universe added nothing to the story as the majority of it occurred separately.
The story here is about a crew of scientists sent to space to perform experiments on a powerful particle accelerator so they can solve an energy shortage on Earth. They’re in space because the power of the accelerator was too dangerous to use on Earth. Of course things go wrong, leading to the remainder of the film acting as a survival story. What was triggered was what was known as the Cloverfield Paradox which basically led to the monsters from the first Cloverfield film (which I haven’t seen) coming to Earth. This paradox may leave some confused while trying to figure out what was going on as the story saw the crew spanning multiple dimensions in space. The clues were there at first with this fact becoming clearer to us and the rest of the crew as the story went on.
The story becomes very tense while the crew try to figure out what was going on with their new reality and also how to return home. None of it should come as much of a surprise as it borrows heavily from other sci-fi films. There was a lot of weird stuff going on and as the crew felt increasingly isolated, their survival instincts began to kick in. The characters may not have been overly deep but at least this aspect was still somewhat compelling to watch as characters ran from one crisis to another (though the bulk of the story is them running from one crisis to another).
There were plenty of twists and turns along the way as they had to fight against their own ship and their new reality. It may feel like it was all going nowhere, however, it does eventually come together, albeit in a predictable way. The most developed character among the crew was Hamilton (Mbatha-Raw), a communications specialist, who also served as our only connection to Earth through her husband Michael (Roger Davies). As she struggled in space with the crew, we began to see the results of their actions on Earth. The film would occasionally jump between both perspectives, however, most of the film was spent on the ship.
The film boasted some good visuals including its depiction of space along with the ship and its subsequent destruction. The score was excellent at adding tension and suspense to scenes while sometimes being too much. The dialog was good for the most part despite occasionally being too expository. There was a decent amount of suspense but it would’ve been nice to see more. Also, it sometimes seemed unsure about what kind of tone it wanted to have. One scene involving an arm is the prime example of that.
The best part of the film was the performances by the crew featuring Mbatha-Raw as Hamilton, Kiel (Oyelowo), Schmidt (Brühl), Tam (Ziyi Zhang), Volkov (Aksel Hennie), Monk (John Ortiz), and Mundy (Chris O’Dowd). They all had decent chemistry and were all somewhat compelling to watch despite their lack of depth. They did the best with what little they had. Mbatha-Raw stood out with a meatier role as Hamilton. She was pretty much the de facto main character as the story kept telling us that we should care about her. Ultimately, she did a decent job as one of the crew members that had to step up later on.
Overall, this was a generic sci-fi film with a Cloverfield-y coat of paint. Its inclusion into the series didn’t change things that much but it was still a somewhat entertaining film with an interesting premise which could have used more depth. The story may not be for everyone, however, it can still stand on its own, making it accessible to new viewers of the series and fans. It will definitely be interesting to see where the series goes from here though hopefully they can make their own film rather than hijack some other film.