Netflix has officially released the third entry into the Cloverfield series, The Cloverfield Paradox, and it's getting absolutely ravaged by critics. The J.J. Abrams-produced franchise has never been short on surprises, but its out-of-nowhere debut on Netflix last night may have been the biggest shocker of them all. The streaming service acquired the film from Paramount Pictures less than two weeks ago, and the first footage of the secret Cloverfield movie only made its debut last night during the Super Bowl. Suffice to say, no one could have predicted that the film would be available for streaming so soon. Unfortunately, the quality of the movie itself is a bit less mysterious. And by that we mean, it kind of sucks.
Formerly known as God Particle, the sci-fi project was reworked in the midst of filming to fit under the Cloverfield banner. A similar tweak resulted in the spectacular 2016 sleeper hit, 10 Cloverfield Lane, so hopes were high that Paradox would double down on its predecessor's unexpected success. Unfortunately, with a sloppy script, a nonsensical plot, and underwhelming special effects, Paradox looks to have squandered its hyper-talented cast in a bizarre mess of a movie. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, it's currently sporting a 16% based on 42 reviews. In retrospect, its abrupt release is looking less like an innovative marketing move and more like an obvious attempt to cover up the film's numerous shortcomings from critics, who were unable to lay into it before millions of subscribers hit play.
Now that critics have gotten a look at Paradox, it's fair to wonder if this sci-fi franchise is on its last legs. Rumor has it that Cloverfield 4 is already on the way, but judging by The Most Brutal Reviews Of The Cloverfield Paradox, it looks like Overlord will have some serious damage control to do when it releases this fall.
A trainwreck of a sci-fi flick bent on extending a franchise that should have died a peaceful death almost exactly one decade ago ... A theatrical release would likely have been disastrous for this dud; with any luck, it will be forgotten amid tomorrow's hangovers. -- THR
What’s most depressing about The Cloverfield Paradox is how quickly the promise of a contemporary anthological delight has been vaporized into VOD-level bullshit ... it’s a necessary reminder that the things we love in this life can be ripped from us so quickly. After all, who knew when they woke up Sunday morning that the Cloverfield franchise would be dead in hours? -- Midwest Film Journal
The Cloverfield Paradox has the same problem as a whole that rappers like Future or Gucci Mane have when they drop surprise mixtapes: just because it’s sudden and unexpected doesn’t mean it’s exempt from having substance to it. -- The Young Folks
It also needs to be mentioned that the special effects here are ghastly, especially for a marquee franchise. At one point a character loses an arm, but the digital rendering of it is so terrible that you don’t even have to look closely to notice the outline of the removed area. Literally, an invisible shoulder can be seen lying limp, and the indentations marking the dismemberment look like something from the early 2000’s ... The only question left is who will despise The Cloverfield Paradox more; fans of the franchise or those turning it on seeking some sci-fi escapism. -- Flickering Myth
The Cloverfield Paradox is an unholy mess ... The characters here never feel like they could exist in a world outside of this space station, all of them barking in tech-speak at each other, rarely acting in what could be classified as recognizably human behavior ... As the film bumbles from one confusingly mounted scene to the next, disappointment turns to boredom ... The Cloverfield franchise is rumored to grow even more later this year with a second world war-set thriller potentially unspooling in October. If this is the level of what we can expect then maybe the next surprise release should be not releasing it at all. -- The Guardian (UK)
On the movie’s own merits, it’s clear that Paramount took a film that plays like a worse version of last year’s Life or a bad Black Mirror episode and dumped it onto a willing taker, in this case, Netflix. And after the initial excitement dies down, you’ll see that Julius Onah’s The Cloverfield Paradox is a tepid, predictable, and largely uninteresting sci-fi film where dumb characters do dumb things and bad things happen because the script needs them to. It’s a movie that’s not particularly scary, interesting, or deep, but it does have good actors performing admirably. -- Collider
It’s too soon to say if The Cloverfield Paradox killed its franchise (a fourth installment is already slated for later this year), but it’s already clear that the Cloverfield brand — until yesterday a magic word capable of stirring excitement out of nothing — is now tainted beyond recognition ... “Logic doesn’t apply anymore,” one of the characters says of their situation, and Uziel’s script quickly internalizes that idea as an excuse to just do whatever. Manically riffing on Sunshine, Interstellar, Alien, and then Event Horizon in a mad dash to obscure the fact that the film looks like a basic cable episode of Battlestar Galactica, The Cloverfield Paradox illustrates the dangerous cognitive dissonance that can result from a painfully derivative movie about a situation where anything is possible. -- indieWire
Not containing the wit to be smart, thrilling sci-fi nor the chutzpah to embrace a fun, B-movie shlock vibe, it unfortunately feels like an uninspired TV pilot that any other network would’ve permanently locked in a vault ... At first, it has the feeling of being dropped into a season finale with characters we should know more about, then after the bland exposition, muddled motivations, and nonsensical developments, one realizes they’d never want to watch what came before anyways. -- The Film Stage
...the producers behind The Cloverfield Paradox, including J.J. Abrams, realized the film was such a colossal dud that they knew they’d be better off dumping it onto a streaming platform instead of going through the trouble of a wide theatrical release. -- Slashfilm
It’s pretty bad by the standard set by the first two Cloverfield movies, and not that great by regular old sci-fi movie standards either. It’s an origin story that lazily follows the most basic beats of a “ragtag team of scientists in space encounter disaster” movie. It squanders at least two very good performances. It makes very little sense on its own sci-fi terms, and makes even less sense as a Cloverfield prequel. It’s kind of a disaster. -- Decider