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If Cloverfield was intended to represent the tension, terror, and panic of 9/11, Cloverfield Paradox smashes that idea. Instead of a real world circumstance, Cloverfield Paradox places Cloverfield’s events in alternate timeline, possibly a future, where global tensions rise over draining energy. This isn’t 9/11/01 New York, or anywhere near it.

There’s merit to this. With a morose tone on Earth, there’s fear over Russian attacks. Americans live under the veil of failing policies, an existence where alternative energies fell to the wayside. The old ones have run dry. A decade on from Cloverfield, maybe the series is pushing into new political territory. Then again, maybe it’s just slumming it because of the name.

Note this isn’t an Earth-bound movie. It’s a space movie, and a bad one. Think of the 1950s pre-moon landing cinematic space boom. Cloverfield Paradox pushes an equal level of corny science concerning particle smashing. Plus, the ship’s crew exhibit improbable levels of idiocy, clearly never viewing a space movie themselves before their trip skyward.

Every ounce of Cloverfield Particle feels lifted and borrowed

Tensions boil over as they tend to do in claustrophobic, space-bound movies. Cloverfield Paradox seems clumped together based on a number of tropes and cliches. The international crew, sharing Earth’s nationalist stresses, fight over implied sabotage. One dies a grisly death after being overtaken by a foreign body, shown via a predictable collage of images seen in other, better, films. Others end up sucked into the great unknown, likewise familiarly composited.

It’s important to note Cloverfield Particle is not a Cloverfield movie. It is in name. People say “Cloverfield” on occasion on screen, but references appear sloppily cut in. All of the Earth scenes look disconnected from those in space, hastily inserted to salvage a crummy bit of sci-fi once called The God Particle. At its worst, the final few seconds draw a tenuous connection, a moment of visual effects without narrative purpose – but that’s as Cloverfield as Cloverfield Particle becomes.

The same argument can be levied against 10 Cloverfield Lane. That movie though, led by a powerhouse John Goodman performance and lock on the paranoid touchstones of survivalist culture, laid out a genuine tale of fear. It built toward something. Every ounce of Cloverfield Particle feels lifted and borrowed, ultimately lost in a hazy output of action and ill-written plot devices. At the worst, Cloverfield Particle uses comedic relief in a painful manner, trying desperately to explain itself, as if the overwrought exposition and foreshadowing weren’t enough.

If the series is to continue (an odd stealth Netflix release post-Super Bowl does raise questions), then things need solidified. Home studio Paramount seems to think if Cloverfield’s universe is vast, then using the name to salvage dying projects isn’t an issue. It is, especially if they falter like Cloverfield Particle.

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Cloverfield Paradox came to life alongside the Super Bowl, but that marketing push has more impact than the crummy sci-fi story.

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