The Cloverfield Paradox Ruined Cloverfield
The Cloverfield Paradox has a killer idea; scientists test a particle accelerator in space and realize the Earth has gone missing after it misfires. Unfortunately, the movie has a lot of flaws holding it back. It's never tense or scary, the characters aren't engaging and it feels like the movie is making up the rules as it goes along – Chris O'Dowd's sentient arm being a good example. The argument has been made that the finale of 10 Cloverfield Lane is the weakest part since it feels disconnected from the rest of the narrative. True or not for Lane, the argument definitely holds true with Paradox, with the ties to past Cloverfield movies feeling tacked on at best.
The appearance of the original Clover monster in the final scene is the laziest possible throwback, it sort of explains (but not really) the debris that falls into the ocean in the first movie and the accelerator is used as a device to bind the movies together. None of it feels well thought out, which undermines the idea there's a binding philosophy to the series. The idea of alternate dimensions can now be used to explain away unanswered questions or inconsistencies, and just about any project can now be turned into a Cloverfield movie using the separate timeline defense.
While The Cloverfield Paradox isn't terrible, it taints the name of the series. From the sneakiness of its release to its limp explanation of the weirdness found in the franchise, it spoiled the sense that Cloverfield was event cinema. That could change of course if Overlord or Kolma win back the trust of viewers, but Paradox is a definite misstep.
A Quiet Place Is More Cloverfield Than Paradox
In some ways, the idea of a Cloverfield anthology feels inspired by John Carpenter's original plans for the Halloween series in the early 1980's. After Halloween II killed off Michael Myers, Carpenter tried to steer the series into an anthology, with each movie being a separate tale linked by the season. Of course, audiences were furious when they paid to see Halloween III: Season Of The Witch and Michael was nowhere to be found. The series reverted back to formula for every subsequent entry, but while it was hated at the time, Season Of The Witch is considered one of the best sequels precisely because it dared to experiment under the franchise banner.
Abrams has seemingly embraced that failed model as a way to draw viewers to original genre stories that can be sold under a brand name. A feature of the first two Cloverfield movies included a simple but unique concept, a strong directorial vision (Matt Reeves, Dan Trachtenberg) and grounding genre material with strong characters and performances. The Cloverfield Paradox failed on all those fronts; it doesn't do anything original with the core concept, it feels like a generic remake of Event Horizon and while it has some good performances, the drama is never engaging.
A Quiet Place feels much more like a Cloverfield movie than Paradox ever does. It's a got the idea, the great performances and Krasinski directs the hell out of it; even the creatures feel like they belong in the Cloverfield world. The writers have since said they're glad the movie wasn't rolled under the franchise umbrella and was allowed to be its own thing, and its success shows there's a place for horror movies told with heart and intelligence.
This isn't to say A Quiet Place needs the Cloverfield franchise. It more than stands on its own. But Cloverfield should be enviously looking what John Krasinski accomplished. If A Quiet Place had become a Cloverfield movie, it would have only enhanced the reputation of Abrams' pet franchise. Hopefully, moving forward, the producers will be seeking scripts of a similar quality.
- Overlord (2018) release date: Nov 09, 2018