Darkest Hour

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Joe Wright

Starring: Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Ben Medelsohn, Ronald Pickup, and Stephen Dillane.

Joe Wright is a curious director. Hailed as a visionary by many, his CV is an eclectic mix of action movie (Hanna), fantasy romp (Pan), and futuristic television (he directed the episode Nosedive for Black Mirror). Wright always comes back though, to what could be described as his bread and butter, historical dramas. It’s in period pieces such as Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement where Wright really made his name. Here, he returns to the well once again, in fact the most famous shot in Wrights career was the Dunkirk beach sequence in Atonement, the events of which this movie is based around. It’s a return to form after the bizarre mess that was Pan, and sees the director pair one of Britains greatest ever actors with one of its most iconic men.

Darkest Hour starts with the resignation of Neville Chamberlain, a war time Prime Minister who has lost the support of the house. The Conservative party decide to place Winston Churchill in charge, a man who whilst controversial within his own party would have the support of the Labour Party. Churchill is elected at the beginning of May 1940, and the film tells the trials and tribulations of his first month as PM. He has to deal with a Europe which is slowly succumbing to the onslaught from Nazi Germany, the crisis at Dunkirk, and dissent from within his own party, who are looking to oust him if he doesn’t consider peace talks with Hitler.

It’s almost unavoidable to talk about this film and not mention the acting. Gary Oldman gives us a true masterclass in the craft. Joe Wright and Oldman blend make-up, acting, writing, and direction together to portray a completely believable, absorbing character. At first you marvel at the job that Oldman is doing, and then you forget it’s Gary Oldman, for the next hour and a half you are watching Winston Churchill. Oldman doesn’t just play the icon though, he imbues Churchill with a humanity. If the blustering speeches get the headlines, it’s Oldman’s work at showing us the frailty of the man which is truly spectacular. Wright surrounds Oldman with fantastic actors as well. Lily James is wonderful, but it’s Kristin Scott-Thomas and Ben Medelsohn who really shine, having a huge impact with very little screen time. Scott-Thomas, as Churchill’s wife portraying the stoic nature of her sacrifice, and the love she has for her husband. Mendelsohn as King George, putting in an understated but moving performance.

Wright makes the history and politics easy to follow, and accessible. It’s a character piece which takes it cues from Shakespearean plays, and the stories of Roman emperors. The action is confined to the war room, and to the back stabbing political world. The war is reduced to aerial shots, offering us context to Churchill’s inner turmoil. It’s in Wright’s direction that the film excels. For a film whose characters actions have such wide spread global repercussions, Wright keeps it incredibly claustrophobic. It’s mostly shot inside, with very little light. Wright takes joy in juxtaposing Churchill’s political position with that of his nation. See how the camera gets tighter on Churchill’s face as both the fate of those at Dunkirk gets more dire, and his party push him towards peace talks; or how he frames a telephone call between Churchill and President Roosevelt, linking how isolated Churchill had become, and in turn Britain had become. Wright ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels, similar to the feat Christopher Nolan pulled off with Dunkirk.

This is not a flawless film though. Having such a tight focus on just one month of Churchill’s time in office, there will always be avenues you wish had been explored further. Kristin Scott-Thomas does fantastically well with very little, but you do wish this relationship had been explored further. Similarly, Lily James’ Elizabeth Layton, acts as a great entry point for the audience, but you wish she had been given a bit more character. There is also a sequence on an underground train, which has the potential to de-rail the whole film. Although Churchill had a reputation for popping up in different parts of London to speak to the public, there is no evidence of this scene ever taking place. It’s placement in the film feels very convenient, and for a film which had done so much with subtleties, it feels too on the nose. It also destroys the momentum that had been building.

Darkest Hour is a terrific character study of Winston Churchill, and Gary Oldman’s performance will go down as one of the all time greats. Wright uses his film to say some great things about standing behind your convictions, and having courage under fire. It’s about making those hard decisions, to stand behind your principles even if it means complete annihilation. It’s minimalistic in style, but Wright still adds some flourishes, a transition from a bombed battlefield to a fallen soldiers face being a stand out. It’s a well put together film, that can’t help but stumble in places.


Early Man

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Nick Park

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Johnny Vegas, Mark Williams, and Rob Brydon.

Aardman are something of a British institution. Doing for stop-motion what Pixar does for CG animation, with Director Nick Park acting as their main driving force. Having created and directed the iconic Wallace and Gromit, and had a huge hit with Chicken Run, Early Man marks the first directorial effort for Park in 10 years. This time the scale is much larger, as Park looks past a modern day fictionalised England, and heads all the way back to a pre-historic fictional England.

Early Man is the story of Dug and his tribe. A stone-age group of cavemen who spend their lives hunting rabbit in the valley, a crater of greenery in the middle of the badlands, a desolate wasteland filled with giant ducks. Dug, voiced by Eddie Redmayne, wants to hunt mammoths instead of rabbits, but Chief Bobnar, Timothy Spall, convinces him that the tribe are happy as they are, and are too hapless to hunt mammoths. This idyllic existence is soon interrupted by the invasion of Lord Nooth, Tom Hiddleston using a wonderfully bad French accent. Nooth is lord over a city already in the Bronze Age, and they use their superior technology to kick Dug’s tribe out of the valley so they can mine it for Bronze. Dug travels to the city where he discovers they worship a sacred game called football, and so he challenges the Bronze Aged champions to a game, waging that if the cavemen win they get the valley back, and if they lose they’ll work down the mine for the rest of their lives. The cavemen have never played football though, so Dug relies on the help of female footballer Goona, voiced by Maisie Williams, another gloriously shoddy French accent, to help them.

Early Man is gorgeous to look at. The amount of detail that goes into creating this stop-motion world is incredible, and truly shows what a labour of love making this film must have been. From a zebra crossing made out of a flattened zebra, to in match instant replays acted out by puppets, the world is ingeniously conceived. The art form is also mined for some great comedy too. Opening with an erupting volcano with a title card that informs us this is near Manchester, or a perspective gag with a duck. Park seemingly uses every film technique known in the first half an hour, demonstrating a true mastery of his craft.

The film is also consistently funny. Whether it’s a visual gag, or a one liner. It has a lot of great moments. Lord Nooth receiving a bird message is fantastic, and the training montage which takes place in the One Million Years B.C. inspired badlands is a great deal of fun. This isn’t the only cinematic reference, as the film is littered with in-jokes for cinephiles. It does come with the obligatory kids film messages of being yourself, aim high, and believe in your family, but here they do enrich the story, and add to the stakes when Dug has to weigh his dreams against the prospect of his family spending the rest of their lives working in a mine.

It’s a shame then, that Early Man doesn’t hit the same heights as Parks previous efforts. In terms of story-telling, the plot is functional enough, but it doesn’t carry with it the same emotional weight that Pixar films do. It’s a film for kids, that apart from a couple of references to older films will do nothing for the adults. The other problem the film has, is that although the stop-motion is lovely, it’s clear they haven’t quite mastered how to show football being played with it. I also felt that with a relatively short run time of 1 hour 29 minutes, it did begin to drag in the middle.

Early Man is a great film to take your kids to and kill an hour of your day, but it isn’t an instant classic in the way that Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run were. It does offer more for adults than a Shawn The Sheep movie will, but still lacks the emotional resonance and depth that we expect from a truly great animation. The first half hour is a joy, and the world building is fantastic to behold. It’s a charming movie, but you just wish there was little more beneath the plasticine surface.


71st British Academy Film Awards – Breakdown

2018, Uncategorized

Last night saw the Royal Albert Hall play host to the 71st Annual British Academy Film Awards, or as they are most commonly know, the BAFTA’S. Although not as coveted as the OSCAR’s, the BAFTA’s are the biggest night in film this side of the Atlantic. Of course, all awards are rather trivial, a chance for the industry to pat themselves on the back, but they are still incredibly important. It’s a great chance to celebrate the previous year in film, and to bring attention to some amazing work that might otherwise go un-noticed. Your favourite film might not win, or even get nominated, which is always frustrating and you could spend your time moaning about this, but where’s the fun in that. Here we will go through all of last nights big winners.

Best Film

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ll admit that I’ve only seen three out of these five movies, but out of the films on this list that I had seen, Three Billboards was a well deserved winner. Dunkirk was great, but maybe lacked the emotional resonance to really compete. The Shape Of Water was also fantastic, for me it was a close race between this and Three Billboards.

Outstanding British Film

Darkest Hour
The Death Of Stalin
God’s Own Country
Lady Macbeth
Paddington 2
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards won again, which makes complete sense that the best film would also be the best British film. Personally, I would have loved to have seen Paddington 2 pick up the award, but there are some great films on this list. All worth a watch.

Best Animated Film

Loving Vincent
My Life As A Courgette

I loved Coco. It’s another well deserved win. The other two movies are definitely worth checking out, but Pixar are maintaining their dominance over this category. Hopefully, one day they’ll recognise them as the Best Picture.

Best Documentary

City Of Ghosts
I Am Not Your Negro
An inconvenient Sequel

I haven’t seen any of these. I love my documentaries, but I usually wait until after awards season to check out the best the year had to offer.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape Of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape Of Water may have missed out on Best Film, but Guillermo picked up his Best Directors award, in a pattern I think will be repeated at the OSCAR’s. The Shape Of Water is a beautifully directed movie, and Guillermo is one of our most unique directors. Nolan must be thinking that he’s another Scorsese, on of the best directors of his time, but never recognised during awards season.

Best Actor

Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kayuula, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Jamie Bell, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name

This was the biggest non-surprise of the night. They’re all great performances, but there was only ever one winner here. Gary Oldman continues his winning streak with his portrayal of Winston Churchill. It’s a shame though that these award ceremonies are okay with the make-up used to enhance Oldman’s performance, but are yet to recognise Andy Serkis’ mo-cap assisted performances.

Best Actress

Annette Benning, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I,Tonya
Sally Hawkins, The Shape Of Water
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

When the nominations came out, I thought this might have been the closest run category. The performances here are all fantastic, but McDormand delivers a tour-de-force performance which can’t help but grab all the attention.

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Plummer, All The Money In The World
Hugh Grant, Paddington 2
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Willem Defoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Again, no real surprises here. Some may have been hoping for an upset with Willem Defoe snatching it, but that would have meant some people actually saw The Florida Project. Sam Rockwell has been great for ages, and it’s nice to see him getting recognised.

Best Supporting Actress

Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Kristin Scott Thomas, Darkest Hour
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Octavia Spencer, The Shape Of Water

Heading into awards season, it seemed that this was a two horse race between Allison Janney, and Laurie Metcalf, but it seems now that Janney is set to sweep the board. Best known for her role in The West Wing, it’s great to see another fabulous character actor get some accolades.

Best Original Screenplay

Get Out
I, Tonya,
Lady Bird
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Whilst we would have all loved to see Get Out win some awards, it’s clear to see that Three Billboards is the most showy screenplay in this category. It’s full of fantastic dialogue, and deals with complex issues. This was the hardest category of the night for me, as they’re all great.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name
The Death Of Stalin
Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Molly’s Game
Paddington 2

I haven’t seen Call Me By Your Name Yet, and I did really enjoy Molly’s Game, but Paddington 2 should have won.

That’s it for the main categories of the night. It was a predictable night, and I’m hoping for a few more upsets at the OSCAR’s. Three Billboards was the big winner, and now seems most likely for Best Picture at the OSCAR’s, although The Shape Of Water might have something to say about that.

Below you can find the list of all the other winners. Special mention to Daniel Kaluuya for his EE Rising Star Award, and Ridley Scott for his Fellowship.

EE Rising Star: Daniel Kaluuya
Best Original Music: The Shape Of Water
Best Make Up And Hair: Darkest Hour
Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread
Best Editing: Baby Driver
Outstanding British Contribution To Film: National Film and Television School
Best British Short Animation: Poles Apart
Best British Short Film: Cowboy Dave
Best Film Not In The English Language: The Handmaiden
Best Production Design: The Shape Of Water
Best Special Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer: I Am Not A Witch
Best Sound: Dunkirk
Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049
BAFTA Fellowship: Ridley Scott


Black Panther

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Ryan Coogler

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, and Sterling K. Brown.


Black Panther is based on a comic released in 1966, and it’s about time it got its big screen adaptation. In a world where #oscarssowhite was only trending a couple of years ago, representation is a huge issue. Black Panther isn’t the first black superhero to grace our screens, but it is the first black, solo superhero movie in the MCU. I was excited going in, Ryan Coogler is a director with a unique voice, which he isn’t scared to use. He managed to bring his socially conscious film making from Fruitvale Station to Creed, and I was interested to see what he did with an even bigger scope. He also assembled a fantastic cast, and crew, and with Kendrick Lamar on song duties, a rapper whose socially conscious songs seem to gel perfectly with Cooglers M.O., I went hoping for a Marvel movie which offered something more.


Black Panther carries on from where we left T’Challa at the end of Captain America: Civil War. After the death of his Father, King T’Chaka, Prince T’Challa heads home to Wakanda. Wakanda is perceived by the rest of the world as a third world African Country, but in fact it’s the most scientifically advanced country in the world. T’Challa is home to take on the mantle of King, and Black Panther. Black Panther is the super strong protector of Wakanda, a role passed on from King to King. Soon, T’Challa sets out to correct one of his Fathers biggest failures, capturing Ulysses Klaue, a thief who stole Wakanda’s precious supply of Vibranium, killing Wakandians whilst doing it. It doesn’t go smoothly though, and T’Challa finds himself facing competition for the throne.


Black Panther is a breath of fresh air in the MCU. After going through a phase of releasing homogeneous, if fun, super hero movies (I’m looking at you Doctor Strange), they have started to add some different colours to their palate. Thor: Ragnarok was hilarious, but I felt it suffered within the MCU because of its irreverence. Black Panther though is a film that takes the super-hero genre seriously, and offers an origin story that looks and feels completely fresh. It’s nice to see one of these movies not set in New York, and the Coogler leans heavily into the African influence with fantastic results. The use of colour in this film is incredible, the set design is fantastic, and the score is thunderously good. The brilliant world building of Wakanda means that even though there are ties to the MCU, Black Panther really does stand on its own four feet.


The conversation around Black Panther is always going to concern reprentation. It’s one of the great joys of this movie, watching so many talented black actors excelling in roles which have been for so long reserved for white actors. Coogler goes one step further and fills his film with lots of powerful black women. In fact Boseman’s Panther generally comes in second to all he women around him. His sister, played by Latitia Wright is more intelligent. His general, Danai Gurira, is better tactically and perhaps a better fighter, and his ex, Lupita Nyong’o, is arguably morally superior. Coogler does well to create this fictitious African country, but he crucially doesn’t forget the American part of the African-American experience. This comes in the form of a Michale B. Jordan’s villain Killmonger. A boy who grew up in Oakland without a father, Jordan is superb, and completely believable with his righteous anger. Coogler uses his rivalry with T’Challa to impart his social messages, but never in a way that is preachy, both their ideologies are flawed. These are lofty sentiments for a movie of this size, and at times you can’t believe Marvel and Disney let Coogler say these things, but the film is all the better for it.


For the most part, Coogler has knocked this movie out of the park. With a firm grip on tone, he swings from family drama to bond-esque spy movie without missing a beat. The action scenes are for the most part fantastic, Coogler bringing his single take, Creed style to the film. The climax does feel slightly under cooked, a savanna fight scene involving some armoured rhinos feeling a little bit like second hand Lord Of The Rings. The film is littered with great performances. Boseman and Jordan are the stand outs, but special mention has to go to Letitia Wright, who is a great deal of fun, and Andy Serkis who seems to thoroughly enjoy not being in a mo-cap suit. Martin Freeman is perhaps the only under-used actor, there for some good jokes, but ultimately feels like a character Coogler doesn’t really care about. Special mention must go to the score and original songs by Lamar. Ensuring that not only does this film look like no other Hollywood blockbuster, it doesn’t sound like one either. I loved the contrast of the organic African drums used in Wakanda, and the processed drum machine used to represent Killmonger.


Black Panther is perhaps the best stand alone MCU movie yet. It’s smart, funny, and full of thrilling action sequences. It’s also a movie rooted in family with a whole ton of heart. Coogler doesn’t shy away from using his movie to comment on the African-American experience. His villain is nuanced and complicated. His hero is thoughtful and wary. Coogler offers a depiction of the things that divide us, but has ultimately made a movie that we can all get behind.


Maze Runner: The Death Cure

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Wes Ball

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Will Poulter, Dexter Darden, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, and Aidan Gillen.


Maze Runner has always seemed like the overlooked franchise in the recent spate of Young Adult movies. It doesn’t hit the high watermark set by Hunger Games, but is leaps and bounds better than the Divergent series. The first film was a nice sci-if mystery, with elements of Lord Of The Flies. The second film lost its way a bit. It broadened the world, but perhaps over reached with too many characters vying for screen time. It also morphed into a zombie horror, which was too intense for its target audience. Wes Ball seemed to take the criticisms on board though, and The Death Cure is a half-successful course correction.


The Death Cure finds Thomas as the leader of the rag-tag team who escaped the maze in the first instalment. After discovering that the world has been ravaged by a virus, and the maze was a test to produce anti-bodies from those immune to the virus, which seems to be secreted when they feel fear, Thomas and friends set out to get their friend Minho back from the company WCKD. They trace him back to the last city standing, which hides behind a massive circular wall. They’ll need to break in using the help of former group member turned WCKD employee Teresa, who is desperately trying to find a cure.


The Death Cure is a huge improvement on The Scorch Trials. It’s clear from the opening sequence, a fantastic train heist, that this is a different beast of a movie. The sequence is taught and lean, not stopping to catch you up on the action. It’s a superb set piece with some great practical stunts, which throw you immediately back into Thomas’ world. When the plot does kick, it’s a simplified one. Find Minho, and rescue him. Ball even keeps it down to mainly the original members, shredding the extra baggage of The Scorch Trials bloated cast. This works incredibly well, leaving you with the people you care about, and Ball stages some great set pieces around them. The opening sequence is one of them, and there’s a terrificly tense tunnel sequence which takes its cues from Stephen King’s The Stand. Ball tones down the horror elements, to a degree that suits this movie much better. In fact, it’s within the references and homages that you see where Ball’s sight is set. There’s bits of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Mad Max. It’s a lofty aspiration that Ball doesn’t quite rise to.


The big problem with the film is that it’s about 40 minutes too long. The middle drags, and you can feel the film being pulled down by the weight of its role of wrapping up the trilogy in a satisfying way. The extra story elements bloat out the last act, and you can’t help but miss the simplicity of what came before it. It’s not a film with the emotional heft of the Hunger Games, nor does it bare any real life parallels in which to make any lasting statements. The performances are fine, if Aidan Gillen’s villain is more caricature than character. The world looks lived in, and real. If the focus had been kept on just producing a fun action movie, which it was for the firs two acts, then it would have worked a lot better.


In all, The Death Cure starts well, but doesn’t stick the landing, and out stays it’s welcome. What starts out as fun soon becomes dull. It’s a noble failure though, as Wes Ball corrects a lot of the mistakes of The Scorch Trials, and knows how to stage a great action set piece, and fills his film with likeable, if bland, characters. It’s an entertaining, but forgettable thrill ride.






2018, Uncategorized

Dir. The Spierig Brothers

Starring: Helen Mirren, Jason Clarke, and Sarah Snook.

I was looking forward to seeing Winchester. I’ve been interested in the story of the Winchester house ever since learning about its influence on The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I had also taken an interest in The Spierig Brothers after seeing Predestination and Daybreakers, both intelligent sci-fi movies which seemed to announce interesting new voices to the genre. They had returned last year with Jigsaw which was serviceable, but going into Winchester I was hoping for a smart, good looking horror, which bought something new to the genre. Eh…

Winchester tells the story of Dr. Eric Price, played by Jason Clarke, who is asked by The Winchester Repeating Fire Arms Company, to psychologically evaluate the company’s majority shareholder Sarah Winchester. The widow of the man who invented and sold the Winchester rifle, she is wracked with guilt over all the death the rifle has caused. Her mansion is a sprawling house of non-stop construction. Dozens of rooms that make no logical sense together, stairs that lead nowhere, cupboards which are secret doors. This is the most eccentric house ever. Sarah Winchester believes she is building the rooms that the ghosts of those killed by the Winchester Rifle need in order to move on. Dr. Price must decide whether she is mentally fit to run the company still, whilst battling demons of his own.

This film is a let down from start to finish. Pitched as a Victorian gothic ghost story, it’s full of familiar images, and well worn set pieces, which don’t offer audiences anything new, and don’t really amount to anything either. The film jumps from set piece to set piece, held together by the thinnest of plot threads. Yeah, there are some decent jump scares, just enough to fill a good trailer, but the film lacks any sense of escalation. The jumps at the start are exactly the same as the jumps at the end. It’s a monotonous film which keeps playing the same note until it outstays its welcome. It’s not a long film, only 1 hour 39 minutes, but I couldn’t have watched another 10.

The film feels like a wasted opportunity. It introduces some good ideas, but throws them away too soon. What is Sarah Winchester’s mental state? Let’s not really explore that. Are Jason Clarke’s encounters hallucinations bought on by his drug addiction? Who cares? Instead you get an hour of Helen Mirren walking around the house in a black veil, a creepy looking kid, and tons of shots of people slowly walking towards the next telegraphed jump scare. The biggest waste is the use of the house. The Spierig Brothers set all their scenes in about 7 different rooms, and shoot them in such an incredibly traditional manner, that as an audience member you are never once disorientated. The film never once wrong foots you, and in a house famed for doors that open to brick walls, and stairs that lead to nowhere, it feels like that’s the least it should be doing.

There are a ton of stories related to the Winchester House, and The Spierig Brothers have decided to tell the most by the numbers version of it. When the film isn’t being unintentionally funny, it’s just downright boring. It’s a huge disappointment from the talent involved. They also use a didgeridoo in the score. Who puts a didgeridoo in a horror film set in America?


The Cloverfield Paradox

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Julius Onah

Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, John Ortiz, Chris O’Dowd, Ziyi Zhang, Elizabeth Debicki, Roger Davies, Aksel Hennie.

There’s a lot of conversation to be had around The Cloverfield Paradox. In terms of following previous Cloverfield methods in distribution it fits right in. Cloverfield started life as just a poster, before adding its title closer to the release date. 10 Cloverfield Lane was a surprise sequel which was filmed secretly and announced only a couple of months before release. So it seems with the third movie they’ve achieve their ultimate goal, a Super Bowl spot which announced the film dropping on Netflix immediately after the game. The element of suprise is an interesting marketing campaign. There’s also a discussion about the worrying trend of studios dumping movies they’re worried about onto Netflix. I’d have been disappointed if 10 Cloverfield Lane had been released straight to Netflix as I’d have been deprived a really great cinema experience. These are all interesting discussions, but what about the actual film?

The Cloverfield Paradox is set in a world of diminishing energy resources. In an attempt to stop the world breaking out into war, a crew of astronauts and scientists are sent into space with a particle accelerator. The idea being that if they can get it to work they will be able to create a renewable energy source which will bring enough energy to everyone, but they have to do it in space as it is too dangerous to experiment with on earth. Our main protagonist is Hamilton, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a communications officer who is using the mission as an opportunity to heal/find some redemption for the accidental death of her children, whilst leaving her partner Michael, played by Roger Davies, on earth. When the crew finally have a successful collision, something goes wrong, and that’s when the weird stuff starts to happen.

Imagine you are at a bar ordering a drink, you decide to make you’re own cocktail, so you take an ingredient from all your favourite drinks in the menu, shake them up, and serve. You take one sip, and spit it out. It tastes awful. That’s The Cloverfield Paradox. Combining elements of Alien, Solaris, Event Horizon, Moon, Gravity, Interstellar, and even Armageddon, it creates a mix which is so far below the sum of its parts, you can’t believe how bad it is. Clichéd is one word for it, paint by numbers is another. It takes what would have been a really interesting idea, and just throws tropes at it. It’s adequately enough directed and acted, but the screenplay is awful. One dimensional characters just going through the motions. People complained that the scientist in Prometheus were dumb. They look like Nobel Prize winners next to this group. At one point the communications officer tells the group that they aren’t receiving any signals, and they can’t contact home base on earth. The next thing she does is run into her own room to try and contact her partner. Why would she even think this would work? Why is she distressed when it doesn’t? She’s the one in charge of this. It’s a dumb movie. Things go weird for seemingly no reason. Yes, some of it can be explained, but a lot of the set pieces make no logical sense at all. Even the plot line of we turned the particle accelerator on to get us in this mess, let’s turn it on again to get us out, is just stupidity on a massive scale. You’re supposed to be scientists.

The other big problem with this film is in the way in which it ties into the Cloverfield universe. 10 Cloverfield Lane, was a really good suspense thriller, which contained little nods to the Cloverfield universe, and then tied it in smartly with the first movie at the end. This positioned the Cloverfield universe as more of an anthology series, different varieties of genre movies, which may or may not be set in the same universe. The Cloverfield Paradox looks and feels like the main cast didn’t even know they were making a Cloverfield movie. Most of the connections come from Michael, who is left on earth, and these scenes feel so disconnected from the rest of the movie, and ultimately serve no goal. It’s a disjointed film, which even at its short running time is poorly paced.

I’m all for a Cloverfield shared universe, even if it’s just a smart way to market good movies which might otherwise get missed. I just don’t think this is the way to go. The connections feel forced and heavy handed. The focus shifts from telling a good story to joining up the dots. It robs the movie of any real pay off. It’s a shame because the film contains elements of films I really love, this mix though is really boring.