The Cloverfield Paradox
Starring Gugu Mbatha Raw, Chris O’Dowd, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, Elizabeth Debicki, Ziyi Zhang, Roger Davies
In the midst of an energy crisis, a young woman and her husband must decide if the fate of their relationship is more important than the fate of the planet. It’s the near future and there is an energy crisis that is threatening to destabilize the world. A multi-national team of scientists have been sent into space on board the Cloverfield space station to use an experimental particle accelerator to try to create clean, sustainable energy for the planet. After the initial failure of the experiment, an experiment that is initially only supposed to last a few months, the crew starts to get restless. When the experiment rolls into its second year with the crew still locked together on board, they start to get anxious.
The governments on the planet are easing closer and closer to war and the tensions of those conflicts find their way to the station as well. There is a sustained hostility between Volkov (Askel Hennie) and Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) as both Germany and Russia seemed poised to attack each other with Volkov convinced that Schmidt is sabotaging the experiments under orders from his government. Meanwhile, Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is dealing with being away from her husband the recent loss of her two children in an accident. As they make another attempt to fire up the accelerator, something happens that causes the station to be disabled and then they get it back online, they find that Earth has disappeared.
As the crew scrambles to find a way to find home and get help, strange things start to happen including Volkov turning on them, Mundy (Chris O’Dowd) losing an arm, and a new person named Mina Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki) who is literally found in the walls of the station. Her introduction leads to the revelation that they are in a parallel dimension and they need to find a way back. Unfortunately, their getting back might be a bigger problem because Hamilton’s husband Michael (Roger Davies) discovers along with the rest of the world that the stations disappearance has brought new and dangerous threats to their world as well.
The Cloverfield Paradox has some insanely fun moments in it. The interactions between the characters works well and I loved how natural the conflicts seem to grow over time. There is a sense of weary annoyance with many of the characters. The kind of annoyance that can only come from being cooped up with the same people for years. Those conflicts worked in the narrative. There were several moments that were predictable, especially the old trope of anyone on a space station that has to go to a level or room alone, you know they are the next one to die. The moments are cliché, but not so much that they took away from my general enjoyment of the film.
The visual effects are top-notch and there are some great tense moments both with character and action. Elizabeth Debicki’s presence could have been expanded on. I would have liked to know more about what happened to her and what her life was like on the station. Gugu Mbatha-Raw was great as the lead in this film. Her personal conflict gave some emotional weight to the story and it was well done. The film does effectively tie into the Cloverfield world in a way that’s fun, but it does leave open a lot of questions that have yet to be answered.