‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ landed with a splash after the Super Bowl, when it made its surprise debut on Netflix. While reactions to the film have been largely been less than complimentary, the ending still has people talking, particularly in terms of its connections to the broader ‘Cloverfield’ franchise.
To recap, after a dimension-hopping misadventure, the survivors of Cloverfield Station’s crew return to Earth in an escape pod. As they enter the atmosphere, a monster pokes its head through the clouds and roars. As befits a ‘Cloverfield’ movie, this sets off all sorts of speculation. The creature is an obvious nod to the monster from the first film, but is it the same? The design is a bit off, and it sure seems bigger, but the resemblance is undeniable. Speaking on the Empire Film Podcast, Abrams addressed this, confirming that “it’s the same creature, but definitely bigger,” noting that it was a baby in the first film before quipping that it must’ve been eating its Wheaties in the intervening years.
In response to a question regarding the possibilities raised by the film’s introduction of dimension hopping and parallel timelines into the ‘Cloverfield’ mythos, Abrams also spoke on the subject of just what makes a ‘Cloverfield’ movie, saying:
“On the one hand you can say “Well then anything anywhere can be a ‘Cloverfield’ movie,” but the intention has never been to take a movie and then slap ‘Cloverfield’ on it. The idea was to say ‘Cloverfield’ is a kind of umbrella, you know, under which all sorts of genres and thrill rides can take place… For us, the idea has always been could there be spiritual successors and sequels that weren’t literally a narrative sequel, but had a connection to the original movie in the DNA of how we made it.
So for example, with ‘Cloverfield’ it was “What would happen if there was a monster movie and it was the point of view of the everyman, everywoman on the street?” You rarely would get that. Most giant monster movies have these sort of god’s eye view storylines and you kind of pop between a bunch of different characters. This was a very sort of intentionally intimate, singular point of view. The second movie was another kind of what if, and that feeling of “What if you find yourself held captive by someone who might be crazy but might also be right?” That there’s something sort of hyper, supernatural, bizarre, sci-fi happening outside.
And this third one began as this story on the space station, but what we realized was the opportunity for almost the way ‘Poltergeist’ used a haunting to allow for all these disparate elements. So a steak crawling on the counter or a bunch of chairs stacking up, or these corpses rising out of the pool or the tree, or a toy clown coming to life and grabbing you, or a girl going into a television set. What all those things have to with a haunting… It allowed for crazy weird shit you just want to see within a storyline that had an excuse for it. So what we realized was though this is a future story, there was an opportunity for us to create something that would givelicense to do things that were simply insane and reality bending and bizarre, but not even just in this movie. But also in the films that have proceeded it and those that follow.”
The bit about not wanting to “take a movie and just slap ‘Cloverfield’ on it” is an odd statement from Abrams, given that of the four ‘Cloverfield’ films that have been produced to date, only one of them – the 2008 original – actually began life as a ‘Cloverfield’ project. The rest began life as unrelated projects that were later brought under the ‘Cloverfield’ umbrella. In other words, Abrams has “take[n] a movie and then slap[ped] ‘Cloverfield’ on it” three times now. In fact, reports from test screenings of ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ have indicated that the ‘Cloverfield’ elements (including the ending) were only added to the film at the eleventh hour, possibly during reshoots.
While the idea of ‘Cloverfield’ serving as a banner or umbrella under which any sort of story can be told is all well and good, it’s been undermined by the fact that only one of the films has been developed from the ground up as a ‘Cloverfield’ movie. This leaves nothing of substance to connect them beyond Abrams’ exercise in branding, and even that seems to be coasting more on nostalgia for the first film’s memorable viral marketing campaign than anything else.
And then there’s his explanation of ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ more broadly, much of which sounds like little more than ex post facto rationalizations for showing a bunch of “crazy weird shit.” That’s all well and good, but it gets back to one of the biggest problems with ‘Paradox’, namely the film’s somewhat tenuous relationship with consistency and internal logic.
‘Overlord‘ (or whatever ‘Cloverfield 4’ ends up being titled) stars Wyatt Russell and Jovan Adepo and is directed by Julius Avery. The film is said to be a World War II-era story that deals with Nazis and the supernatural, and it’s currently set for release on October 26, 2018, though given the repeated delays that plagued ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ (not to mention its eventual surprise release), it might be best to take that with a grain of salt.
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Overlord’ and other upcoming ‘Cloverfield’ films as it becomes available!