If you’re a fan of the Cloverfield franchise, then Netflix and Paramount Pictures has created a movie just for you. J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions teamed up with writers Oren Uziel and Doug Jung to introduce us to—dun dun dunnnn—The Cloverfield Paradox. The story was adapted from Uziel’s original screenplay, God Particle, and Abrams added the final touches to make it the third installment of Cloverfield (following Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, neither of which are available on Netflix).

Released on Feb. 4, 2018 (right after the movie trailer was introduced during Super Bowl LII), The Cloverfield Paradox is set in a dystopian near-future. The world’s energy resources are set to fully exhaust in five years (something that could very well happen in our actual future) and Earth’s only saving grace is the Shepard particle accelerator, a device that must be launched in a dangerous space mission, but would provide free energy, solving the world’s energy crisis for eternity. The mission seems easy enough but nothing worth fighting for ever comes easy, and with great responsibility comes great sacrifice.

We jump aboard the Cloverfield space station, where the international Helios crew has gathered to save the 8 billion people on Earth from death, destruction and despair. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror, Belle) plays Ava Hamilton, a crewmember who makes the difficult decision to leave her doctor husband, Michael (Roger Davies) on Earth and sacrifice her life for the greater good of humanity. Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo, best known for his depiction of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, plays Captain Kiel, a man tasked with keeping the growing tensions on the ship from reaching a boiling point. And this task is daunting.

Team Helios has been aboard Cloverfield for 694 days with 47 failed attempts at getting the Shepard particle accelerator to do its magic. The crew is made up of people from all around the world—China, Russia, Germany, Britain, the United States—and the reality of being stuck aboard a spaceship for near 700 days with no progress is beginning to weigh heavy on their souls. But, you know what they say: 48th time is a charm. That’s right, on their 48th attempt, Team Helios, gets a green light from the Shepard accelerator. Everything is saved. Earth will live on forever with free energy because free stuff never comes with a catch. We can all go to sleep quietly now. Wrong. The Shepard does succeed but it also creates a power surge and a system overload that turns Cloverfield upside down. Now the crew must team together to philosophize the concept of reality. What is real to you may not be real to others. Your world is not always what it seems.

The system overload begins to create strange happenings to the ship, among the team, and among the Earth they once knew. Crewmembers Schmidt (Daniel Brühl, Inglourious Basterds) and Tam (Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha) want to go rogue, while Volkov (Aksel Hennie, The Martian) begins to feel things crawling from within him. Is he going crazy or are there really monsters living inside? The whole ship seems to be in disarray. The only level headed members of the team seem to be Kiel, Hamilton, Monk (John Ortiz, Fast and Furious 6), and Chris O’Dowd’s (Bridesmaids) character, Mundy, whom offers some much needed comic relief to a bleak and disastrous situation.

What other disasters, you may ask? The Earth as Helios knows it has disappeared. The Shepard brings to life the Cloverfield paradox, shattering the space-time continuum and sending the station orbiting in time and spaces unknown. And now Team Helios must find a way to keep it all together, while also breaking apart to fight their own imagined and real demons, to get back to their Earth alive and complete this life-saving mission. There are a lot of philosophical elements at play. How far will you go for the greater good of humanity? What is sacrifice? Is reality really real? And, who are the actual monsters and demons of the world? These are the questions and it is up to you to form the answers.

This film did a good job of blending the horror, sci-fi and mystery genres together, and I always love a movie with a message about the depths of humanity. If our present reality keeps on its current path, The Cloverfield Paradox could very well be our dystopian future. Can us humans living on Earth in the now band together to save humanity before it’s too late? I sure hope so.

{3.5 out of 5 stars}

**This review first appeared in print on page 11 of issue #259 (Feb. 12 – 26, 2018)**