Anyone who has followed the Cloverfield franchise from the beginning already knows to expect the unexpected. But even then, fans are still left in bewilderment at how unpredictable these films can get. The Cloverfield Paradox just dropped on Netflix—on Super Bowl Sunday of all days—with the only promotion being a 30-second teaser with the caption, “Some thing happened. You’ll know why after the game.”
The Cloverfield Paradox (previously named God Particle) was considered one of the most anticipated films of 2017, then 2018 when it was pushed back month after month. Finally, Netflix acquired rights to distribute the film and wasted no time in giving it to us. And what better way than to just drop it randomly, a one-up from 10 Cloverfield Lane which was revealed less than five months before its release. So, was the hype worth it?
I consider this a film for devout Cloverfield fans. From the minute it began, I found myself instantly trying to piece together things from the previous films— there are easter eggs hidden within text messages, imagery and dialogue that serve as symbolism to its predecessors and it’s a lot to consume at once. It’s honestly overwhelming, but there’s an excitement behind knowing that this film is connected to a universe where—hopefully—everything serves a purpose.
As the film intensifies, scenes from Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane fit into the puzzle that is The Cloverfield Paradox. This is the most complicated film out of the three and that could be considered a negative if you enjoy the simplicity that the previous two films had. There is a large amount of information to take in; the film will leave you with some answers but mostly questions that will presumably be explained down the line as the franchise continues.
The Cloverfield Paradox also has the distinction in being the first Cloverfield film that’s R-rated. On Netflix, the film is rated as MA and it doesn’t shy away from body horror and blood—there’s a natural association to the Alien films and it’s clear within the movie, although it doesn’t let that influence take over. Whether or not you like that approach, it’s up to you. No Cloverfield film has the same feeling because each film has its own distinct approach. With every release, new characters are introduced and their stories are relevant to the film that they’re in. Although the plots vary, they’re all connected by this supernatural phenomenon that occurs at different times in their lives. That’s what makes this franchise so interesting—these seemingly unconnected people never meet each other, but they’re reacting to similar events.
I’ve seen Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane in theaters and while I expected to view The Cloverfield Paradox the same way, I’m not disappointed that I had to watch it on Netflix. The film is beautiful to look at—despite watching it on my laptop, I still felt immersed by the shots of space. Nothing about it felt cheap. I still felt tension, I was on the edge of my seat (well, leaning closer to my laptop screen) and ultimately, I felt very much involved with the characters. For me, as long as I connect to the story at hand, viewing platform doesn’t matter.
Judging by initial reactions on social media, The Cloverfield Paradox is going to be the most divisive film of the franchise. Every person who pressed play after the Super Bowl did it out of their own excitement over being a fan, or just being curious about the hype. They weren’t influenced by websites or film reviewers, they only had their own judgment to go on. While I don’t rank the film as highly as its predecessors, I still enjoyed it and I loved seeing a science-fiction film directed by a man of color and led by a cast of actors from various backgrounds.
Consider this film a piece of the puzzle that surrounds the overall mystery of this franchise. Some of the answers may fall short for you, but not every answer is a satisfying one. I still remember my initial disappointment regarding the ending of Cloverfield and over time, I appreciated how abrupt it was but most importantly, I wanted more. After watching The Cloverfield Paradox, I can’t wait to see what Cloverfield: Overlord has in store for us.