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Ziyi Zhang and Daniel Brühl in "The Cloverfield Paradox." NETFLIX

The Cloverfield Paradox: Horror or Sci-Fi?

If you are a fan of J.J. Abram’s “Cloverfield” franchise than look no further than the latest installment, “The Cloverfield Paradox” exclusively on Netflix, released earlier this year. Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Doctor Who,” “A Wrinkle in Time”) and Daniel Brühl (“Captain America: Civil War,” “The Alienist”) this film is a bit of a mash-up of genres and previously made movies.

So far J.J. Abram has presented “Cloverfield” in the self-shot documentary style, a more modern thriller style and now a science fiction/horror style. Is that a bad thing? Depends on your point of view. Traditionalist tend to want structure followed on faithful origins. However, about twenty years ago a trend happened in comics and novels that has now bled into film making, re-telling origin stories of favorite characters with alternate reality twists. “The Cloverfield Paradox” certainly fits this, if not in concept alone.

In lavishly shot studio sets with generous special effects this film takes place primarily on an experimental space station that is in preparation of the Earth’s last hope of power in the year 2028. Unfortunately, as is with all sci-fi/horror films, the experiment fails, and all hell breaks loose with a fantastically mind-bending paradox along the lines of Abrams’ television smash hit “Fringe.”

So how does this concept tie into the rest of the “Cloverfield” franchise? Apparently, all that’s required is to add random larger-than-Godzilla-size monsters and it makes the grade. So, if you come to accept this is all it takes and leave the mystery of the monsters’ origins alone, then the movie becomes a fairly enjoyable ride.

So how do these behemoths enter the storyline with a space station as the environment of the film? A small portion does take place on Earth, so it’s safe to say that these Lovecraftian creatures are not the primary focus of the film. What does seem to be the focus are sly nods to previous sci-fi/horror history with scenes that closely resemble the films precedents like “Alien,” “Event Horizon,” etc.

Of the films heroes the most memorable may be the self-animated detached arm of a crew member which is another nod to horror from Sam Rimi’s “Evil Dead 2” without the over-the-top comedy of Bruce Campbell. It’s hard not to know whether to groan or laugh, but it’s still fun.

The paradox of this film is that it tries to be both serious and comical, considering two prior gripping and serious films, yet still entertains. Is it horror or is it sci-fi? Best not to question and just go with it.

To reach Brian Fitz-Gerald e-mail him at

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