‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Can’t Decide Between Serious Sci-fi or Fun Trash




The Cloverfield universe feels like it was created in a game of Microscope. They have an elaborate mythology that spans across space, time, and universes. But none of the films individually care about the mythos, they are vignettes of life on the ground (or…uh…spacestation) during world-changing events. It’s a format that I adore dissecting and exploring. Even though the first movie was a mediocre disaster/monster movie, it was made more enjoyable by playing the ARG, reading forums, dissecting clues, and by building out the larger vision of the universe. The Cloverfield Universe was never a film series first, it is a meta-textual game and the movies are cutscenes that range from gripping to mediocre. As a whole multimedia text, the universe is a lot more fun than than the individual parts.

I don’t say this to excuse the mediocrity of the film. The strength of this vignette format is the ability to have compelling character stories that can stand apart from, while still informing the over-arching mythos. The Clover movies have fumbled 2 of their 3 shots at doing this (IMO, 10 CL is the standout hit of the series), but I am hopeful that the rumored 4th and fabled 5th installments can still hit the mark.


It does seem like he thinks space is incredibly vast: Han Solo and Chewie bopping around for years unable to find the Millennium Falcon; Nero showing up in our universe and then disappearing for 25 years without anybody seeing him.

And at the same time about the size of a small town where you run in to everybody you know several times a day: Han Solo and Chewie immediately finding the Millennium Falcon once it takes off; a supernova threatening the entire galaxy; half the character introductions in Nu Trek; teleporting halfway across the galaxy; space lasers from a Death Star somehow traveling from one solar system at the edge of the Galaxy to hit a planet around a completely different star.

And now gravity being a thing that exists because something is spinning nearby.

Sure, all of this could be chocked up to lazy, hacky writing, but it’s more fun to think that he has no idea what space is.


The extremely frustrating thing about Bad Robot is that they have a stranglehold on this concept, but they don’t seem to even have the slightest fucking clue what the mythos is founded on in any of their properties. Alias, Abrams’ first big foray into this type of worldbuilding, is a spy thriller series that ultimately revolves around two factions fighting for control of some da Vinci/Nostradamus-type’s mystical artifacts. While, for the most part, Alias never completely lost the plot on the value and purpose of Milo Rambaldi’s creations, Abrams did admit that, at least at the beginning, his artifacts were only ever meant to be a MacGuffin.

This is emblematic of Bad Robot’s biggest problem: every property is founded on some mystical MacGuffin that could be extremely interesting if handled properly, but they never actually finish writing the bible on what the core of their universe is before they start building on top of it. They just keep revising their foundation wherever they see fit, undermining previous revelations, tacking on new facets to the underlying mystery with no apparent regard for what they did and said before.

Lost is the most egregious example on its face, if for nothing else than the time an enthusiastic viewer may have invested in following all of its clues. Early on, Lindelof and Cuse stated in an interview that the island was absolutely not the afterlife, and that everything we see in the show can be explained by certain scientific theories. The show ended in full contradiction of those early assertions.

And now here we are with Cloverfield, a universe ostensibly founded on the illegal dredging of the sea floor for tasty microbes to season our slushie drinks with, now wholly revised to be about rips in space-time. What value is there to an ARG if the creators are going to keep changing the rules on us? I want what they think they are selling, and I love their ideas, I just want them to settle on a core mythology and follow through on it. They just can’t seem to do it.


And it wasn’t.

Like sorry, this is obviously a digression from the thread topic, but I keep seeing this pop up and it drives me nuts; the island very much did not turn out to be the afterlife. Everything that happened on the island happened while the characters were alive.


what is it 


the dog was dreaming that’s what it was

Lost was a dog’s weird nap dream


An island in the real alive world, which had some magic stuff on it.

I have a diagram for occasions such as this:


fine ok  


Anyway, my feeling on this movie is that it wrote checks it couldn’t cash. It established several disparate premises for a space horror story (bug parasites, possession, the station itself consuming crew members, strangers appearing aboard the station, a saboteur crewmate) and when the interdimensional explanation was finally revealed, it didn’t really satisfactorily cover everything that was going on. And as the film hits its latter acts, the threats that fit less coherently with the parallel-worlds story just kind of vanish; the prospect of being sucked into a wall portal or filled with bugs doesn’t weigh on anyone.

And the concept of the experiment creating the Cloverfield monster is the least fitting thing that happens in the film; not only does it fail to mesh with this film’s story, but also with the first film’s continuity. I’m actually down with the emotional twist that the survivors are returning to a horrific Earth-- but if they wanted to add some extra cosmic horror spice, they should have done something that fit better with the parallel worlds concept. Show that the two realities have merged on Earth in grisly ways, or reveal that the second firing of the Shepard sent the station to a nasty third reality. As silly as it’d be, having the pod crash-land in front of a nazi flag would have been more coherent than having that monster pop up out of the clouds.

This movie needed top-to-bottom rewrites, not just some cynical extra shoots.


And the concept of the experiment creating the Cloverfield monster is the least fitting thing that happens in the film; not only does it fail to mesh with this film’s story, but also with the first film’s continuity.

To say nothing about the fact that TCP takes place in like, 2038 and Cloverfield was very specifically in 2008.


my partner just suggested that the true ‘cloverfield paradox’ is that the first movie says the cloverfield monster rose from the ocean depths in 2008, while the cloverfield paradox asserts it didn’t exist in 2008 and actually came from a parallel universe 20 years later


I really love the original Cloverfield, and - as much as I’d liked 10 Cloverfield Lane - I think I’d rather the mystery of the original had remained ambiguous, rather than for unrelated films to have been clawed at and melted down to make what I assume is yet another cinematic universe. Still haven’t watched this new one - but it sounds like what I’d assumed would be the worst case scenario for this whole series.


You just put exactly what I’ve been trying to say so beautifully and succinctly. The Clover-verse has so many cool ideas and is a genuinely interesting world – if they took the time to flesh it out. I am completely down with telling different stories from different perspectives, but there needs to be earnest world building, and there really hasn’t been any. I really enjoyed 10 Cloverfield Lane, but the ending felt like a quick way to establish a cohesive world between movies, sort of like Batman v Superman.

Also, thank you for making me feel like I wasn’t mis-remembering things! I remember there being some sort of theory behind Slusho, which didn’t at all coincide with The Cloverfield Paradox. Not to mention, in the very last scene in the original, you can see the alien crashing into the ocean, which would mean it was there for a chunk of time and not mysteriously manifested by a particle accelerator.


I feel like complaining about plot holes is kind of a low blow, especially when it comes to sci-fi, but this movie requires too much good will from its viewers for the stuff it throws at you. “Reality warping” is an interesting concept (I liked Event Horizon), but using it as an excuse to make up nonsensical and inconsistent scenarios to kill off characters or make solutions for some problem is lazy, it feels like nothing really has any weight. Things happen “just cuz”.
And coming back to plot holes, or lazy writing, they fire the thing one time, creating all that mess, then fire it again to come back, and then fire it one last time, except this time the particle accelerator is moisturized so everything is ok? wut .


This was super annoying because the DONUTS WERE SPINNING THE WRONG WAY!!!
Seriously the early show where Hamilton sits in the window and the camera zooms out you can see that instead of the gravity being produced from the centre of the donut out to it’s edge (think spinning spacestations in virtually any other film, like 2001) the gravity is produced towards the base of the donut not towards it’s edge.
the last shot of this made me angry but once the gravity thing was pointed out to me I was spitting mad!


That one is actually coherent. They fire it, being transported. At the end of the movie, Bruhl fires it again using the same parameters, and I guess they get lucky and get transported back. Then he ventilates it like Xiyi told him to, fires it again, and turns out it does actually work properly, because it turns into a big fluorescent lightbulb, but in SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE


I liked the movie. Would I see it in theaters? Probably not on opening weekend. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece going in. Despite my love for Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane I know they make up about 1.5 good movies put together. Paradox was fun and hella dumb. I bought into the premise because honestly it’s refreshing to have a parallel universe story that isn’t just “Welcome to Cowboy Universe!” I’m not saying people who didn’t like it are wrong, but the stakes just don’t feel high enough for me to get upset about Paradox’s rough edges.


I just watched it and I’m sure there’s a throwaway line about how the accelerator can even affect the past. Stil, it’s applying a plaster to a gaping wound of a plot hole.


I sat down to watch this movie, made a fairly ranty statement on the horror forum. The only thing I liked about the movie was Chris O’ Dowd as he seems to be the only one who realises it’s a comedy. The whole movie is basically them turning the whole space station off and on again, so I dunno, the IT crowd is still great.

I really like the idea of multiple selves across parallel universes, feels as if you could tell this cool sci-fi story whose premise is that whilst bad things may happen to you in this reality, another you had events play out completely differently. This only really came into the film during the third act, up until that point you had to go through a number of totally rubbish ‘spooky goings on’ in a space ship.


[spoiler] It’s like they had this one good idea that could have been the basis of a really good Doctor Who episode but then had to inflate the story with all these ideas that would have gone into the worst episodes of Doctor Who. What if he had worms inside of him. What if he exploded in worms! What if a strange British woman was warped into the walls of the space station and was mangled in between all the cables and. What if you lost your arm, and then it came back and I dunno knew stuff to move the story on to the next bit. Those last two bits… I mean… the first has this kind of body horror element, pseudo Giger ideas of a woman being meshed into a machine - but then she has some medical treatment and basically has Wolverine’s herself back to full health… Chris O’ Dowd loses his arm, but he doesn’t feel any pain, it’s just one of those things no one can really explain… I mean are they even trying to scare us or make us feel any kind of dread on this space ship?

Of course, then you have the appearance of the Cloverfield monster at the end, for no reason apart other to increase brand awareness and I dunno maybe offer a half ass explanation of the first movie, which was better left unexplained. I mean at least we now know why there are so many aliens in these cloverfield movies now. Turns out JJ Abrams played Half-Life and liked the whole inter dimensional collapse and 7 minute war angle.[/spoiler]

Some people have called it straight to DVD trash, which I’d agree with. Others are saying it’s a revisit of middle tier sci-fi movies that don’t really get made anymore because the middle ground in cinema has shrunken considerably in recent years. I was all for Netflix’s original programming and actively seeking out riskier projects turned down by other studios, but I just don’t know anymore. I guess I liked Okja? Beast of no Nation was pretty good…