I was intrigued by this film for two reasons:
a) Because it being announced and released in the same day is, quite simply, cool
b) Because a review (that I admittedly only scanned) said Paradox ties the first two films together, and I wondered how that was possible (spoilers: it isn’t)
Paradox isn’t terrible. It’s fine. It’s just…fine. There’s a good performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, acceptable ones from most of the rest, and a poor one from Chris O’Dowd. It’s highly derivative, with elements of Event Horizon, Sunshine, and Poltergeist, among others, but it does nothing interesting with those inspirations. There’s a lack of taste, a misjudged sense of what’s scary, cool, interesting. Table football players spinning of their own accord? Not scary. A basketball-sized gyroscope hiding inside a person? Not sensible. Someone’s eye going squint one way then the other? Also not scary.
The Poltergeist inspiration is obvious in two places:
a) The increasing tension as Volkov inspects his eyes recalls the face-peeling scene from Poltergeist.
b) The spinning of the table-football players was like the variety of household objects in Poltergeist which move to foreshadow the spirit’s arrival. I’m far from a horror buff, but I wonder if Poltergeist was the first film to so effectively use the movement of mundane and inanimate objects as a portent for terror
Chris O’Dowd’s Mundy lacked the charisma and humour that would make his character engaging. Admittedly, Mundy was badly written; even a superior actor would probably have struggled. “My arm helped find the Earth” is a horrible line, but O’Dowd’s delivery was worse
The disembodied arm thing was misguided and stupid. The film wasn’t fully dedicated to making it disturbing or funny, so it was neither. And the few times we were supposed to be taking it seriously, I was thinking of the ‘farewell to arms’ scene from The Evil Dead 2, which isnt what you want in supposedly dark moments.
Is ‘Parallel dimensions’ a term for ‘script any illogical madness you want’? Why did the arm know where the gyro was? How did Jensen know there was a gun? Why was Volkov able to 3d-print a gun? Because…’parallel dimensions’?
This franchise has a branding problem. Conversations around Paradox were similar to those around 10 Cloverfield Lane, with film fans wondering how the film would link to the others, if it would at all. Here’s Lane director, Dan Trachtenberg in 2016:
“10 Clover Lane and Cloverfield are two different stories. They’re on different timelines.”
“The Cloverfield universe, or “Cloververse”, is really speaking to the name taking on this new meaning, this name being this platform to tell really unique, original stories that are truly bound by that same tone, that same sensibility”
Many, like me, took that to mean Cloverfield would be an umbrella term for a mostly unrelated series of movies, a Twilight Zone or Black Mirror for films. I still imagine a parallel dimension with a series of films under a ‘Cloverfield presents’ or ‘Name: A Cloverfield Movie’ banner, with every installment a weird, pulpy, B-movie sci-fi/horror/whatever stand-alone feature. Instead, I wonder which tenuous way the latest film will try to link to the others. If Bad Robot announced, “We’re going to release lots of ‘Cloverfield’ films and none will feature the monster”, would enough fans watch to make it commercially viable? Lol, I dunno, but Netflix seems like the ideal platform for it.
This seems kinda hypocritical, but despite just saying I’d prefer if future Cloverfield films didn’t tie into the original, I loved the final shot of the monster roaring above the clouds. Part of the monster’s outline was seen earlier in the film, but I thought I was seeing an alien ship (I rewatched the video and it’s clearly a Clover-esque beast) but then I forgot about it anyway. So, when Michael mentioned “those things”, I didn’t know what he meant. And then a beast came wonderfully into sight.
That monster must’ve been much bigger than the one from the original film. Did Paradox choose to ignore that? Or are we seeing different, bigger beasts?
It must’ve been great to watch the Superbowl live, get the unexpected Paradox ad at halftime, then realise you could watch it that same night. That’s an event movie right there.
But why did the film not go the traditional cinema route? Did Paramount just think straight to Netflix the best channel for this type of movie? Or did they think Paradox was a stinker and this was the best way to avoid losing mad papes on it through standard distribution? Maybe there’s a scandal looming about one of the cast and they wanted to get the film out as quickly as possible? Or, simply, they just thought the buzz created by same-day-release was worth it, bringing attention to a film and franchise that might not have been available another way. As far as I’ve seen, no details have been forthcoming. Maybe we’ll have to wait until an exec gets canned before we got some insider knowledge
An extra star for Paradox for using Don’t Sweat the Technique by Eric B and Rakim