Arts movie review

A Higgs Boson powered particle accelerator sent to space to solve our energy crisis but instead, rips the space-time continuum?

‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ gives conspiracy theorists a good name

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Jensen awaits her fate aboard the Cloverfield Station.
Courtesy of Scott Garfield/Netflix

The Cloverfield Paradox
Directed by Julius Onah
Screenplay written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jing
Starring Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O'Dowd
Rated R, now playing

When a massive energy crisis plunges the world population into a hellish existence, the Cloverfield Station is the last hope for our humble planet. The station runs a particle accelerator on a space station that will provide a large amount of power for countries around the world. The plot kicks in when they run the accelerator, known as the Shepard, but instead of providing the world energy, they prove the conspiracy theorists right: they indeed create the “Cloverfield Paradox” and transport the station and crew to an alternate reality. Now, if only solving the energy crisis was so simple. There, they face the horrors of the universe, where nothing makes sense.

I preface this review by stating I have not seen the previous Cloverfield films, but frankly, a good film stands on its own merits, and this stands on thin air. This review is also filled with spoilers, because it is difficult to talk about without spoiling. Meet Ava Hamilton, who reluctantly joins the mission and leaves her husband on Earth. Hamilton is given a compelling backstory but not enough to do, and while the rest of the crew contributes to solving their problem, they are not compelling. Aside from their accented English — or in the case of Tam, fluent Mandarin that everyone else miraculously understands — these characters give us little to remember them outside of the plot. Our station crew is a diverse cast that is not so diversely utilized.

Wait, what plot? The crew transport themselves away and figure out how to transport themselves back and save the world. But that’s not what I remember. I think back and remember distinctive horror elements (which I won’t spoil because I’d be giving away the only redeemable parts of this film). The body horror and the breakdown of physics is all the more terrifying knowing the crew is sent to an alternate universe and are vulnerable to anything. It was a hell of an entertaining movie, and the lack of any logic allows for creative, gruesome ways to manipulate the human body, but in the end, these moments don’t add anything but shock factor.

This alternate universe — bringing quantum entanglement into the picture —  drives interesting questions; the film takes the simple route, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Hamilton faces a choice between a reality where her children are alive and her children’s aren’t. She survives the horrific ordeals of the alternate universe, where they do not belong, where their station machinery eats them alive, where the implausible takes their lives one by one. In the end, she chooses her original universe, where her children aren’t alive but her husband is, because it is her world, and that possessive adjective is all that matters.