Caleb's Cloverfield Paradox Bitch-Rant

The Cloverfield Paradox is a movie that will mildly entertain you while you're watching it, but confuse and infuriate you the more you think about it after the fact. (Disclaimer: It's been about a week since I watched it, and my opinions have changed a lot from what was in my recorded review.)

Following the juggernaut of awesomeness that was 2016's 10 Cloverfield Lane, Paradox seems to follow a similar path from page to screen: take an already existing script, change a few things to make it fit into the "Cloververse", generate hype, and print money. Unfortunately, their latest effort in this series falls short in several key areas, including script, direction, and pacing. 

The general story revolves around a crisis on Earth the can only be rectified by building a particle accelerator in space, I guess. What follows is a fairly standard Event Horizon type movie. High concept sci-fi rigmarole gives way to 2spooky4u weirdness gives way to climactic showdown, but the result is so poorly paced and structured it makes it feel like about 4 different movies collided and made one mediocre-adjacent bad movie.

I'm going to invoke another podcast that I like called The Arbitrary Archive, because their review gave me the words for a few things that were bugging me about Paradox. The conceit of Arbitrary Archive is that the two hosts, DJ and Travis, have taken part-time jobs as janitors at a scientific laboratory where they discovered the sentient artificial intelligence J.E.F.F., who tasks them with creating an archive of human culture to survive an impending apocalypse, with each episode's theme following a one-word prompt the AI gives them. The show is basically an intellectual version of our Dic Picks segment, and usually the hosts will bash something you love until they over-analyze it to oblivion. That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but the show is really very good and worth at least a cursory listen.

Anyway, their most recent episode featured a review of Paradox that brought up three big points I wanted to reiterate here, because they do a good job of summing up what's wrong with the movie.

1. There's no tension to a lot of scenes that should be dramatic because of poor editing and script work. The biggest offending scene is when the crew of the space station "lose" the Earth and someone raises the idea that maybe they've inadvertently destroyed the world, and then it immediately cuts to the main character's husband on Earth, so you know that really everything is fine.

2. The main character's backstory is revealed in a way that feels shoehorned as fuck, and is only revealed immediately as it's about to become relevant to the "plot". The protagonist's plan following that reveal is one of the dumbest things I think I've seen a character try to do in a movie.

3. The whole plot of the movie is terribly nihilistic, and it sucks any fun that could be had here right out of the movie. In something like Event Horizon, the characters are reaching for forbidden knowledge or tampering with things they shouldn't and bad stuff befalls them because they overreach their station. In Paradox, bad stuff happens to the characters because they're trying to do the only thing they can do to save everyone in the world. It has the same tone and feel as a movie about someone offering bacon to a dog, only to slap them away when they try to take it.

There's potentially a lot more I could get into if I really wanted to pick this thing apart, but these are probably the most egregious sins this movie commits from where I stand. Try to avoid this one.