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The Cloverfield Paradox

The ‘Cloverfield’ movies have made an interesting series. ‘Cloverfield’ and ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ had several thought-provoking sci-fi/thriller trappings making for an engagingly suspenseful and exciting duo. ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ attempts to continue their success. Unfortunately it’s derivative of similar films, with the ‘Cloverfield’ name seemingly tacked onto this less than stellar effort.

Suffering a global energy crisis, Earth relies on various space agencies to find an answer. Included is the Cloverfield Station with a crew featuring communications officer Ava (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Jason (David Oyelowo) and Gordon (Chris O’Dowd). While testing a particle accelerator, this action creates a Cloverfield Paradox which opens a portal to another dimension. Attempting to close it, the crew are lured into a universe of danger with time running out to save earth and themselves.

The best thing one can say about ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ is that it looks spectacular. The CGI is utilised well as the space vistas successfully reflect the black danger in which the characters find themselves. The multinational nature of the space station is effectively realised with a strong cast doing their best to enliven mediocre material.

‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ suffers from run of the mill story-telling and pedestrian direction. Both highlight the murkiness of the plotting and leaden pacing. Barely any tension is felt with the crew member’s fates registering little empathy. Whilst the moral dilemmas are thought-provoking, the story never truly follows through on their potential with an explosive finale too little too late.

Third time isn’t so lucky with ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’. It only has scant connection to previous instalments with this entry having a by the numbers feel. Although in space ‘no one can hear you scream’, viewers may scream at frustration in their lounge rooms at this effort with the petals falling off this cinematic rose.

Rating out of 10: 4

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX.

Underwater

The sea gets a bad rap. From shipwrecks to sharks, storms and other watery mishaps, it’s a wonder anyone goes swimming. Films especially have used the rugged waters to good effect for countless movies including ‘Jaws’. It’s the murky unknown and secrets it holds which fascinate viewers. ‘Underwater’ magnifies this with an exciting sea-logged science fiction thriller. Made on a compact budget complete with an enclosed setting, ‘Underwater’ reveals another dangerous side to the mighty deep blue sea.

Norah (Kristen Stewart) and Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel) are part of a crew of oceanic researchers. Whilst navigating the inky black waters within the confines of a claustrophobic deep-water research and drilling facility, the crew face an unexpected threat. An earthquake hits the ocean floor devastating the compound with its destructive power. Forced to flee to another station, the crew have to battle sea creatures, fatigue and each other in order to survive the sea’s unpredictable fury.

‘Underwater’ is like a water-logged version of ‘Alien’. There’s a small crew in a confined space, a deadly creature offering death and the black unknown enveloping all. Whilst ‘Underwater’ feels derivative of that film and others, it passes muster due to a strong cast and genuine tension. William Eubank’s directorial flair teases out the script’s moody atmosphere well within its brisk runtime.

Although Stewart isn’t particularly known for being an actress with true range, she equips herself admirably in ‘Underwater’. She isn’t in a cliched ‘tough chick’ role, but ensures she conveys her character’s determined resourcefulness. The CGI is finely utilised with the monsters and otherworldly deep adding much to the overall sense of dread.

Having the distinction of being the last movie released under the 20th Century Fox name before Disney took it over, ‘Underwater’ is decent viewing. It may be familiar for world-weary film buffs but it isn’t dull which is a bonus. It’s best seen on a rainy evening with the water pouring on the rooftops being safer bet than the watery beasts the film’s characters face.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR RENT OR PURCHASE ON YOUTUBE.