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After hinting for months about what the next Cloverfield film would be and when it would be released, The Cloverfield Paradox finally got a surprise release last night exclusively on Netflix right after the Super Bowl.

This straight-to-Netflix approach to the film's release has prompted quite a bit of discussion in terms of whether the movie was just not good enough to get into theatres or whether this is something we're likely to see happen with more and more blockbusters, good or bad, in the future. Frankly, those statements are probably both true. With the success of Bright and others, we're definitely going to be seeing bigger movies released directly to Netflix, that's obvious. And yet, while the surprisingly good 10 Cloverfield Lane re-ignited interest in the Cloverfield franchise, the reality is that The Cloverfield Paradox would have probably bombed at the box-office. The great thing about this particular series of films, apart from its usually clever marketing campaigns, is its out-of-sync approach to storytelling. Each film feels very different yet still manages to take place in the same universe with this new effort working as a kind of prequel to everything we've seen so far. Originally titled God Particle, much has been said about how this wasn't initially meant to be a Cloverfield story but the script was re-worked to make it fit with the other films. This is now, frankly, a dismissible concern since Paradox does a decent job at making itself feel like part of that universe.

Set on a space station where an international group of astronauts attempt to turn on a particle accelerator in order to somehow solve the Earth's energy crisis, the film is a sci-fi thriller not unlike last year's Life or even something like Sphere. Similarly to those movies, The Cloverfield Particle is essentially a slick-looking, geniusely promoted B-movie with a solid cast and a silly story that's both pretty random and rather entertaining. After a relatively slow start, the film gets weird pretty quick as the experiment inevitably goes awry and leads to strange events increasingly occurring around the crew who suffer the brutal consequences. Like Life, this film is at its best when it's putting its characters through hell, even when what's about to happen is a bit predictable. The cast, which includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brühl, Zhang Ziyi and Chris O'Dowd does well despite the script giving them the occasional rubbish line and some of their characters being underwritten. The film's tone is a bit all-over-the-place, as one sequence involving O'Dowd's arm is particularly funny and goofy compared to everything else and having something like this happen before and after characters have died as we build up to a mostly serious denouement makes it quite distracting.

Aside from an anti-climactic ending that could/should have been much better and some inconsistencies, The Cloverfield Paradox is an entertaining sci-fi B-movie with lots of fun elements, good ideas but also a good amount of eyebrow-raising nonsense that fans of the previous films might not be expecting.

Slick, trashy fun.

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