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May 14, 2018 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Cloverfield Paradox

For a moment, it was refreshing to be spared from a trailer for a teaser trailer for a full-length theatrical trailer, only to realise that JJ Abrams had pulled a fast one on us.

In what was arguably a pretty game-changing marketing move, and only possible given Netflix’s accessibility, viewers of this year’s Super Bowl were given a 32 second teaser for the third instalment of the Cloverfield series, The Cloverfield Paradox. Not only that, but the audience were advised that the film would be available online in its entirety immediately after the game had finished. Apart from this effective piece of marketing, the movie had no other coverage and was kept largely under wraps. So to see a teaser for this unknown film, with a decent cast, interesting look and a solid franchise backing it, got us pretty excited. But it made no sense that this visually-intriguing sci-fi film wasn’t heading to the cinema like its predecessors. Unless of course, the film was bad. Which it was.

In the end, The Cloverfield Paradox was a slapped together, baffling, poorly written sci-fi flick, that was ultimately a shadow of a series of much better films. It added little to the world in which these Cloverfield movies are set, and served to further confuse audiences as to how exactly the monsters (or whatever they are) ended up on Earth. To avoid once again getting angry and confused about this movie, and having to field questions from each other like “do you know what’s going on?” and “what are we even going to write about?”, we’ve decided not to go into plot-specifics. But as the film descended more and more into madness and we started to zone out, it gave us a chance to reflect on why this film was flying Netflix’s banner.

The idea seemingly underpinning the film’s short and sweet marketing campaign was that Paradox was the movie we didn’t know we needed until we were told we needed it. In reality though, no one really needs this film; producer JJ Abrams clearly realised this, as he threw the film to Netflix to gain a far safer distribution deal and avoid what would have been a far costlier marketing campaign and likely a poor box office performance. The film’s intrigue was twofold: firstly, in its mystery, and secondly, in the fact that the mystery could be immediately uncovered. Yet, because the film wasn’t good, this type of marketing campaign makes us feel like we’ve been tricked and cheated into watching something we otherwise wouldn’t, rather than it being some ground-breaking reveal.

Compelling visuals and sound give Paradox a few real moments of tension, sometimes evoking feelings of classic horror (even if entirely lifted from better films). But we aren’t watching this at The Embassy. No, we’re watching this at 90 degrees in bed at 11pm on a MacBook Pro with flux on. These moments are most likely squandered by your piss poor home theatre setup and you’d be a fool to think you’d get the same cinema experience — though really, you shouldn’t aim to experience it at all.

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