Get Me Out Of Here - The Cloverfield Paradox

Get Me Out Of Here - The Cloverfield Paradox

I am of two minds on Netflix. On the one hand, it represents a revolutionary leap forward in home entertainment. The volume and breadth of the content available is truly staggering. It offers a tremendous outlet for creatives and it only seems to be scratching the surface of its potential impact. On the other hand, so much of what they are putting out is truly terrible. Not just haphazardly terrible; but deeply objectionable. The latest sign of this dichotomy, The Cloverfield Paradox, is the third entry in a franchise that seemed to be on the right track. The films all take place in the same universe, but tell stories that are only loosely related. Its immediate predecessor, starred John Goodman as a doomsday bunkerist holding people against their will to protect them from some force outside. This latest chapter takes place in space, aboard a ship on a mission to save the world. Just 10 minutes in, I was ready to head back to the bunker for good. 

 Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The science part of this science fiction affair is inane garbage, so I won't spend long laying out the universe, but here is the general setup. It is the year 2028 and humanity faces a global energy crisis. Our protagonists man an international mission to unlock a source of infinite energy and save humanity. Skeptics worry their efforts will unlock parallel universes that will doom humanity, but they proceed anyway. 

 Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

One of our main characters, Ava Hamilton (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), leaves her family on Earth to join the mission. While in space, strange events begin to happen and it becomes clear to the crew that they are altering other dimensions. In the end, the film becomes a race against time, to unlock the unlimited energy before it's too late. All the while, they are forced to choose between remaining in a parallel universe or returning to their own uncertain version of reality. Oh, and there is a monster or something. 

Inept science fiction is nothing new. We often go a little wild when conceiving of what the future will look like. But the audacity of the story is almost immaterial when your entire execution relies on stakes that aren't there. The second you realize you are watching any number of parallel universes, it diffuses any possible stakes. Who cares about these characters and the connections you've built when they can have any version of their lives they choose. Every additional ridiculous happening takes you further and further from any sort of personal narrative. 

 Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

All of that said, I wholeheartedly appreciate the diverse casting and the multi-dimensional story. It is rare to see women and people of color helming a science fiction affair. It's too bad that it is all in service of nothing. It is weighed down by just enough blah, blah science this, blah, blah science that it never quite gets off the ground. If you are someone who is deeply enamored with the Cloverfield universe, there is an outside chance this is for you. If you are just about anyone else, you are likely to regret any time you give to this because you can't enter an alternate dimension to undo that choice. 

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