Of 34 reviews submitted thus far, 31 are rotten — but even its more lax critics admit its "sometimes tough" to find good moments, says Paste Magazine's Jim Vorel, who calls its attempts to connect itself to the 2008 original Cloverfield both "misguided and illogical."
"When we’re able to simply enjoy the premise it presents us with, this movie is equal parts thrilling and utterly batshit crazy," Vorel writes, adding the movie suffers from "tonal whiplash" and is "a little too desperate" to connect itself to Cloverfield — a tie that served as the focus of the $5 million dollar Super Bowl ad.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire says the Cloverfield brand is "now tainted beyond recognition," calling Paradox a "chintzy, scatterbrained, and insufferably boring pastiche of better movies about people stranded in space."
An "unmitigated disaster," according to Ehrlich, the critic says the best thing about the straight-to-streaming production is "that it's free with your Netflix subscription."
Glenn Kenny of the New York Times says the surprise release has an intriguing premise, but is ultimately "strangely plain, eyesore-overlit and uselessly frantic."
"That straight-to-video feel of releasing films directly to Netflix finds a movie that perfectly suits the model," writes Scott Tobias on Twitter. "Yikes."
Uproxx's Josh Kurp says Paradox "could have been campy fun," however, "Paradox mostly takes the boring parts from Life, Alien: Covenant, Event Horizon, and Interstellar ... with a hint of one of the lesser Black Mirror episodes, and adds the word Cloverfield."
Sam Adams' write up on Slate is particularly damning: "Picking up a studio’s rejects might not be the best way to burnish Netflix’s brand," Adams writes, calling studio Paramount the "real winner" for offloading what would have been an "almost-certain flop" were it released to the big screen as planned.
"Although it wasn’t conceived as a Netflix release, it somehow feels like the logical endpoint of the service’s approach to content generation: a movie as easily categorized as it is forgotten, one whose primary asset is that its (reworked) title will show up high in search rankings," Adams writes, saying Netflix polished a "turd" and left audiences with a "pile of crap."
"Its plot would have been no less coherent had it been generated by algorithms rather than simply rejiggered to please them. The eventual tie-in to the Cloverfield universe is staggeringly cynical, but there’s something admirable in its brazenness, and the movie ends so abruptly it’s as if it were designed to be followed by the inevitable 'Play Next' click."
The next project out of the Cloverfield anthology universe, tentatively titled Overlord, is reportedly completed and expected to hit theaters in October. Set on the eve of D-Day, Overlord sees American paratroopers combating supernatural forces as part of a Nazi experiment.
The Cloverfield Paradox is now streaming on Netflix.