The Cloverfield Paradox Was Ruined By Cloverfield
We've been waiting for The Cloverfield Paradox for a long time. What was once known as God Particle was suspected to be part of the franchise from the moment the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer dropped, confirmed later in 2016. At that point, it had a release date set for 2017, one that was repeatedly pushed back until settling on April 2018; a shift so high profile it ranked on Screen Rant's most anticipated movies of 2017 and 2018.
What quite happened on the journey of God Particle to the small screen is unclear, but we do know some key details. It was originally a promising spec script written by Oren Uziel that bore little resemblance to the finished product; there were no alternate dimensions, instead, after apparating from Earth, the film's space station was approached by another ship, leading to a closet murder mystery. Some changes were made to God Particle's screenplay before shooting, then, part-way through production (shortly after 10 Cloverfield Lane released), it was twisted into a proper Cloverfield-connected feature. Mid-production changes are always eyebrow-raising, and while it's not clear whether these were done to elevate a problematic movie or led to The Cloverfield Paradox's many pacing and tonal issues throug retrofitting, their impact is far too heavily felt in the released picture.
The result was a poor film. That's the consensus for both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes (no fan-reviewer divide here), but also of the studio: per reports after the release, Paramount dumping a major franchise tentpole on Netflix was a novel form of damage control. The audience of Netflix is, plainly, more casual - there's less time, financial and personal investment in a viewing - so engagement would be higher than an opening weekend with horrendous word-of-mouth, and the release method overrides a lot of immediate response. It was a true win-win: Paramount get rid of another likely bomb (for a price greater than it cost to make, no less); Netflix gets to prove how it's dominating the current landscape.
Yet while that's a success of cross-corporate management, it doesn't avoid the two companies tried to sneak a low-quality film past us, nor the converse damage it's wrought on the franchise.
The Cloverfield Paradox Has Damaged Cloverfield
As already alluded to, it's not quite clear what The Cloverfield Paradox's proposed solution to the cohesive universe is. Whatever it is (time travel or multiverse jumping), ostensibly it's providing some form of solution to how monsters and/or aliens can exist in the real world. The problem comes in that it was always assumed the previous films were working on standard sci-fi genre logic where that balance of real and fantasy is a given - it's the accepted leap, like wizards in Harry Potter. All this explanation does is shift the leap - we're now saying the divergence point between the film and reality is the creating of a portal rather than a monster - and offers little tangible change or elaboration; the monster still comes from the sea and the aliens from the sky, we just have them originate in a different reality's sea and sky. It's an answer that answers nothing - and makes the whole thing feel empty as a result.
What The Cloverfield Paradox has done, really, is created needless confusion. Between an accidental sync-up between Cloverfield and Paradox and the larger monster at the end linking into a decade-long theory of how the monster in Cloverfield was just a baby, there's pockets of the fanbase that believe all manner of incoherent theories: that the movies unfold at the same time; that the monster is a dimension-jumping harbinger; even that the alternate universe Cloverfield Station that crashes into the ocean is the same seen in the background of Cloverfield's final shot. These can all be disproven objectively - mainly by the clearly futuristic setting of The Cloverfield Paradox (the viral marketing puts it in 2028) - but that hasn't stopped the misinformation spreading, not least because the previous vagueness of the franchise has promoted such out-of-the-box thing.
Before The Cloverfield Paradox hit, we expected the franchise's major barrier was going to be sustaining surprise. Instead, it's more text-based. The next Cloverfield film - a World War II-set thriller with Nazis wielding future-tech titled Overlord - is presumably connected via more interdimensional bleed but under assumed connections will be lumbered with the pretense of being a direct prequel or expected linking. And what of the suspected Cloverfield 5, Kolma, which will see Daisy Ridley flirting with the afterlife? The series has become about a non-existent grander narrative, creating expectations that cannot be met in the retroactively-connected movies and hurting actual quality.
- Overlord (2018) release date: Nov 09, 2018