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The Cloverfield Paradox (Blu-ray Review)

The Cloverfield series has a nice track record of being sneaky and coming up out of nowhere and as a surprise to us cinema-going audiences. Movies will be filmed under completely different titles with the connection never linking. The Cloverfield Paradox took that to another level when it decided to become one of the most talked about moments of the Super Bowl.  During the game, rumors started flying from it getting a new release date, to Netflix acquiring it to eventually announcing the movie would drop on the streaming service after the game. In all honesty, after seeing the film, it was a good move because that may have been the most exposure and buzz the movie was going to get. A year later now, we have it coming to Blu-ray to own finally and sit on the shelf next to your first two Cloverfield films. You can grab a copy after the Super Bowl again on February 5th.

Film 

Orbiting above an Earth on the brink of catastrophic energy wars, scientists test a dangerous device that could provide unlimited power but also runs the risk of creating a terrifying paradox, leaving them face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

The Cloverfield Paradox definitely feels of a film told within the confines of the Cloverfield motif, but doesn’t come near the high bar set with the previous two entries. Where 10 Cloverfield Lane loosely tied into the world that the first movie set up, Paradox tries to directly jump in and explain things in an origin story of sorts. The ambiguity of the first two films is replaced with some more complicated quantum sciences and and dimensional sciences.

Julius Onah’s film should be lauded to some degree for “going for it” with the fearless goal of launching into bigger ideas, but its not communicated in a strong enough way that feels very clear and concise. And I’m not asking for a spoon to be fed the material, its just presented in a choppy fashion that doesn’t feel like its been baked in enough to really understand what they are saying. Heck, charts were made after this movie premiered to explain what people “think” it was trying to say. If the film were otherwise presented in a fashion like a Solaris, it might be understandable, but what we get here is a more direct, popcorn, Event Horizon-type film. And too much of this feels ultimately disconnected with an ineffective tie into the original held to the very end.

It can’t be said that the film doesn’t have a terrific cast selling this off the best they can. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is one of the best young leads that can be supplied and she’s terrific here, keeping us all together through her eyes. Chris O’Dowd helps wonderfully to lighten a very tense mood. Elizabeth Debicki is a fun, otherworldly type of presence that helps bring a sense of eeriness to the proceedings with just her taking up a frame. Personally, I was thrilled to see Zhang Ziyi in a bigger modern sci fi film. That was cool.

Upon a second viewing, The Cloverfield Paradox improved a little bit. I remember not being to into a year ago and not returning since. This time around, things sort of slowed down for me and it worked in a sense of “Generic Space Horror Movie With Big Science Ideas” sort of time passer. Someday, maybe I’ll go back to it, but I found it to be rather “all right” as opposed to “complete disappointment”. Maybe there’s more to find later on. Hopefully it didn’t kill the Cloverfield brand and we can be surprised again by it down the road.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: I can boo-hoo about no 4K UHD on this title, but I get it. With the format still being expensive to produce, it probably is a big risk considering many people will just crutch on this movie being on Netflix (But, who knows for how long). However, Paramount has put out a crisp, clean picture with terrific detail, color saturation and sharpness that is about the best you could hope for on the format. They really do a good job in discerning the colorful looking spaceship and the more barren looking Earth sequences.

Depth:  Solid spacing here, with some of the outer space exteriors looking pretty impressive. Character movement is smooth and natural with no problems handing rapid motion

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and close to natural levels with overall satisfactory saturation throughout. There was one brief moment of crushing early on, but it never occurred again.

Color Reproduction: Colors overall are pretty strong. There is good saturation on the ship’s interior palette. Most of the popping colors comes from lights and displays from monitors and mechanics within the ship (Or in appropriate areas during the surface story).

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout. Facial textures, details, blemishes and damage are visible from any reasonable give distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English Audio Description, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Spain) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Danish, German, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Thai

Dynamics: Wow. The Cloverfield Paradox delivers a hell of an experience with its incredibly immersive and effective Dolby Atmos track. What this doesn’t provide in 4K video, it makes up for in its audio capabilities. This mix is incredibly intricate and playful. Its also loud and makes a heavy impact during some of the bigger action set pieces. Say what you will about the movie, experiencing it with this track is a whole other thing.

Height: There are instances and additions throughout coming from your ceiling speakers. At all times they feel present and active ready to jump in or help move something around.

Low Frequency Extension: This sucker gets deep and shakes the room heavily. Every crushing blow, door slamming or energetic blast pounds you in your place.

Surround Sound Presentation: This is a hell of an active track utilizing every single speaker to the fullest degree. Every corner of the space station is realized and brought to life. Either working together or on their own, these speakers are having fun and make the movie full.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras 

Things Are Not As They Appear: The Making Of The Cloverfield Paradox (HD, 14:23) – The director and writer give us a bit of the origins of “what is a Cloverfield story?” then the inspiration of this particular story and followed by they and through crew going through the shoot and storypoints, along with how complex the science is. We get to see how the arm effects were done, too.

Shepard Team: The Cast (HD, 14:48) – This one goes over the cast of course, but each of them talk as a collective but also give some good insight and reflection on the script and dynamic of the film.

Summary 

The Cloverfield Paradox tries hard to present some big ideas, but executes a medicore science fiction thriller in space. It improved for me on the second viewing, but still trails far behind its predecessors. Its a shame Paramount didn’t try a 4K Ultra-HD with it, but this Blu-ray comes with outstanding audio and picture quality. It also supplies 2 pretty good extras. At the cheap price it is, the Cloverfield collector can kinda just grab this one carefree.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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