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The Cloverfield Paradox is Proof We Should Stop Slapping ‘Cloverfield’ on Movies as a Marketing Tool


The Cloverfield franchise took a serious hit after The Cloverfield Paradox debuted on Netflix. Here’s why.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who went further down the rabbit hole on a movie than me prior to the release of Cloverfield in January 2008. I’m not proud of the hours I spent at work trying to find connections and hidden meaning in seemingly meaningless things. Then I saw the movie and I was like… cool… but what about the million other hints, clues, and easter eggs that were decoded, prodded, and scrutinized Ad nauseam online?

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Without all the superfluous shit (each character gets a MySpace profile!), 2008’s Cloverfield is an okay movie. The acting isn’t that great for most of the story. At the time, found footage wasn’t overused so it felt like something fresh and new even if it came a full 10 years after Blair Witch Project. TJ Miller’s near non-stop commentary was a skosh much. And — SPOILER ALERT — it didn’t have a very happy ending, which ended up becoming a trend in cinema. Yet, it broke box office records for a January release and still holds a place in my heart.

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The 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer dropped from the heavens completely unannounced and I lost my mind. The Cloverfield Madness struck again. Everyone tried to decode every single frame of the trailer. Websites popped up. Scavenger hunts. Fan theories on Reddit. And, ultimately, it was a really good movie that had loose ties to the 2008’s Cloverfield.

JJ Abrams called 10CL a blood relative. He said Cloverfield is now more of an anthology series akin to Twilight Zone. Problem is Abrams and Bad Robot aren’t doing it right. Ironically, Netflix has done it right with Black Mirror. We found out 10CL was actually supposed to be called The Cellar and wasn’t originally part of the Cloverfield universe. That kind of takes away from its allure, no?

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Essentially, Abrams and Co. got a script. No relation to Cloverfield. Sprinkled in some Cloverfield references. Set up a WAY more engaging storyline OUTSIDE of the actual movie on the internet and presto a la kazaam, Cloverfield fans are gnawing off their own faces to get a taste. Fool me once, J.J…

NOTE: JJ Abrams has fooled me and millions of other people countless times. Infinite times. Just when I’m out, he pulls me back in. God (particle) dammit. 

With 10CL‘s success, we start to hear about how The God Particle might be part of the Cloverfield franchise. Well, the ol’ “let’s sprinkle that magical Cloverfield dust all over an unrelated production” move seems to have bit Bad Robot in their own too-smart-for-their-own-good ass. Because the end result — The Cloverfield Paradox — was a mess that severely hurt the Cloverfield brand.

I hate using that word — brand — but Jesus, Abrams out here claiming it’s like Twilight Zone. Instead, Black Mirror actually went out and became today’s Twilight Zone. Black Mirror has done a phenomenal job at creating an interconnected universe where you can go do your own research online if you want but also doesn’t heavily lean on that extracurricular activity for ANYTHING to make sense. You can enjoy Black Mirror by itself. Without supplemental materials.

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I’m done diving down the rabbit hole for Cloverfield. If you really want to get your rage on, read the movie’s Wikipedia entry. It’s a peek into how movie business executives try to salvage a dud and is one, long ‘fuck you’ to Cloverfield fans. I mean, the cast and crew didn’t even know it was a Cloverfield movie until they were already on set shooting the Cloverfield movie. And the actors didn’t know it was premiering on Netflix until the morning of the Super Bowl.

There’s cute and clever and then there’s “We didn’t think Lost would be this successful and we didn’t write the fifth season, so we’re going to pretend like we know what we’re doing with these head-scratching maneuvers” bullshit. Isn’t it about time the clock struck midnight on these “geniuses”?

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Here’s some fun trivia from IMDB:

  • A small figurine with the word Slusho can be seen in the first half of the movie. Slusho is a brand subtly featured in both of the earlier Cloverfield movies, as well as J.J. Abrams’ earlier TV series Alias (2001). The viral online campaign for the first Cloverfield (2008), indicated that Slusho is a subsidiary of Tagruato Inc., the company behind the deep ocean drilling (and potential explosion) that woke up the monster in that movie.
  • The woman interviewing Mark Stambler on the newscast (Suzanne Cryer from Silicon Valley) is the same woman from 10 Cloverfield Lane that tries to get inside the bunker when Michelle is looking outside.
  • Donald Logue’s character is named Mark Stambler. John Goodman’s character from 10 Cloverfield Lane is named Howard Stambler.
  • The sealant used to repair the Helios is ParaFun Wax, a product invented by Tagruato.
  • Although this movie takes place in 2028, and the prior films took place way before, J.J Abrams said that he has a plan on how all the Cloverfield movies (and future ones) will be tied together.

I’m sure you do, ABRAMS. I’m sure you’ll have a really pretty bow to put on this story just like you did with Lost.

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I just found out there’s a fourth one called Overlord, which they’ll probably end up calling CloverLord. Here’s the plot synopsis from Wikipedia:

“In 1944, two American paratroopers are shot down over Normandy in the midst of the D-Day invasion and they discover that the Nazis are using supernatural forces against them.”

Turns out the supernatural forces are the ghosts of the crew of the Cloverfield space station and the couple from Cloverfield who’ve traveled through time thanks to John Goodman’s long lost second cousin who was an intern at the company that was next door to the God Particle factory. I CANNOT FUCKING WAIT TO SEE HOW THEY SPRINKLE THE CLOVERFIELD DUST ON THIS ONE!

Oh and how original. The goddam Nazis again. AGAIN. There is an infinite number of antagonists and we roll with them?

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Neal, calm down. Yeah, I should. It’s unacceptable that I care this much. But, if you’ve watched The Cloverfield Paradox, you know my pain. Its creators will tell you it was ‘inspired by’ Alien, Aliens, Event Horizon, Interstellar, Life, and Gravity but it was really just a lazy amalgamation of them all. It was a sloppy collage that needed the Cloverfield label to find any kind of eyeballs. And now, as a result, the Cloverfield label has lost its luster.

As for the movie itself, here’s a quick rundown of the cast complete with SPOILERS:

  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Ava HamiltonThe very definition of a passive protagonist. She didn’t do shit until the very end. For the majority of the movie, I’m thinking why is the camera so focused on her when she’s a periphery character at best.
  • David Oyelowo as Kiel – Generic af. Wouldn’t it have been so sweet if he’s the guy responsible for fucking everything up?
  • Daniel Brühl as Schmidt – Had a couple intriguing moments but it went nowhere. My guess is they’ll make some kind of obscure reference to his family name in Overlord. Like he’s a descendant of an important Nazi figure.
  • John Ortiz as Monk Acosta – Would have loved to know him better. He was quiet like a monk. Spiritual like a monk. And then?
  • Aksel Hennie as Volkov – Damn.
  • Zhang Ziyi as Tam – Tried to come strong but was backed down by Schmidt.
  • Elizabeth Debicki as Mina Jensen – Was the most interesting and deserved a more thorough plot.
  • Roger Davies as Michael Hamilton – Largely forgotten on Earth. Might have set the record for most ‘try-hard’ quotes. We get it, man. You’re trying to be profound. No one talks like that ALL THE TIME.
  • Clover Nee as Molly – The actress’s name is Clover, get it!??!?!?!?!? NO, I DON’T!
  • Chris O’Dowd as Mundy – The ‘comic relief’ who was the literal embodiment of every snarky movie nerd.

Chris O’Dowd was funny but the ‘found the worms’ comment really put a damper on sympathy for his character. Did my wife say the exact same thing when Volkov coughed up the worms? Yes. So, I guess we’re all cold, unfeeling, horrible people. Awesome. He’s also a little too cool for school when he loses his arm.

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Sure, Volkov wasn’t a fan favorite. He rubbed everyone else on the ship the wrong way. But, was he that much of a bastard that he got 0 heartfelt reactions? On the flip side, he’s Russian and Russians are blunt force five at all times, so his send-off was as Russian as it gets?

I’ll end with this. I had a hunch I was in for a subpar movie during the first scene in which Michael Hamilton – Ava’s husband on Earth – talks with Ava in the car during a traffic jam caused by a blackout. I knew I was completely out on this movie when Michael Hamilton – Ava’s husband on Earth – is driving the girl he saved (Molly) to a bunker and he says, “Bad things are happening” (FUCKING DUH) “But good people are trying to fix them.” Ahhhh. Now I feel better.

Weirdly enough, I didn’t have this bitter reaction when the movie ended. Or even yesterday during the day. But it hasn’t sat well with me. The ending was what sealed the deal for my disappointment. Don’t send them back! Cue the Cloverfield monster. That’s gonna get me psyched me for another one of these overly convoluted cons? Hard pass.

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Comments

  1. I did not get to the end of Cloverfield Paradox. It was just kind of boring to watch and clearly didn’t seem to be going out of its way to make sense so I just stopped.

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