When Cloverfield came out in 2008, horror and sci-fi fans were mostly pleased with this monster footage shot in found-footage style: finally, the United States had a home-grown version of the Japanese king of monsters, Godzilla.
Cleverly, JJ Abrams – who produced the original Cloverfield movie as well as the newer ones – decided to go for an original route with what would have gone on becoming a horror/sci-fi franchise: instead of producing straightforward sequels, he picks original projects and shoehorns little Cloverfield-esque in them.
Yes, in case you were wondering, neither 10 Cloverfield Lane nor The Cloverfield Paradox were meant to be part of the Cloverfield universe. In fact, they were totally unrelated scripts that Abrams paid for and turned into something else. This awkward – and a bit cheaty – making process had worked for the most part with the 2016 ‘sequel’, a claustrophobic psychological thriller up until the last 10 minutes. On the contrary, The Cloverfield Paradox (originally titled God Particle) suffers from this forced mix of themes, ideas and writings.
Plus – and this is a big plus – the ending, that serves no purpose other than justifying the title of Paradox, raises more questions than it answers.
Here I’ll start getting into spoilers (check out my spoilers-free reviews linked above if you want to avoid them) for the three Cloverfield films.
Because the ending of The Cloverfield Paradox shows the giant monster from the first 2008 movie popping out of the clouds…, which is weird, considering that the same creature in Cloverfield wasn’t even tall enough to raise over Manhattan’s skyscrapers! That could mean that:
a) What we see on screen isn’t the same creature as the one in the 2008 flick, i.e. The Cloverfield Paradox takes place in a different universe.
b) The latest Netflix film kicks off in one universe – which is a different dimension in comparison to the one of the 2008 original – and concludes in another one. These events might be happening simultaneously in two different universes, making The Cloverfield Paradox a ‘samequel’ to Cloverfield.
c) Both movies might be set in the same dimension, but not in the same time period: in fact, the monster of The Cloverfield Paradox might be the same of Cloverfield, just grown up and fully developed.
Where does 10 Cloverfield Lane fit in this scenario? Most likely, the movie starring John Goodman is spin-off of this franchise. Unless, this is a sequel to either Cloverfield or Cloverfield Paradox.
If you find yourself confused by this mumbo-jumbo, don’t worry: I am as well. This is just a brief list of concepts The Cloverfield Paradox messes up with.
In conclusion, the biggest mistake this film makes occurred during the making process: when you try to force certain elements into a script that should be meant for a totally different project, the result might be a mess.
JJ Abrams is a clever filmmaker and producer; however, he should be able to hire competent writers and directors to make them work precisely on a Cloverfield project, as opposed to buying pre-existing scripts and modifying them forcefully.
Just to be clear: I don’t think The Cloverfield Paradox fails to deliver purely because of the aforementioned issues. This flick has flaws in its characters, actions, dialogues and so on. Yet, I’m not a hater, since I consider Paradox to feature a strong first act and to be overall entertaining. Nevertheless, this should have been more than just a fine movie: it should have been fantastic as much as the original and 10 Cloverfield Lane are.
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My review is also available on IMDb – The Cloverfield Paradox