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Outside of the Eagles winning the Super Bowl, fans were treated to a major surprise on Super Bowl Sunday. Completely out of the blue, the third Cloverfield movie was officially announced with a trailer. On top of that, the movie premiered on Netflix that night right after the game. Netflix and J.J. Abrams had created a straight up movie EVENT out of thin air. From a marketing perspective, it was fascinating. The actual quality of the movie itself? Well... the marketing was pretty cool! At the end of the day, The Cloverfield Paradox isn't a very good movie and it shows the cracks of this franchise's particular approach to sequels.
The Cloverfield Paradox did not start out as a Cloverfield movie. It was originally developed as a movie called God Particle, which followed the basic storyline of a group of astronauts who get into some shenanigans aboard a space station after they experiment on a particle accelerator. Supposedly, the original story had nothing to do with "the Cloverfield Paradox," which was the name of the scientific phenomenon of monsters, demons, and beasts from the sea arriving after tampering with the boundaries of space-time. All that Cloverfield stuff was added after the fact, and therein lies the problem with these Cloverfield pseudo-sequels. They are turned into Cloverfield movies after the fact, instead of just writing a Cloverfield movie from the start.
The Cloverfield elements of Cloverfield Paradox feel pretty tacked on. The scientist on the news (Donal Logue) theorizing about monsters from other dimensions screams reshoot and has no bearing whatsoever with what's going on in the space station. The crew members of the station never have to deal with any monster threats or even consider the option. It's something that only really comes into play during the Earth scenes, which are pointless because they only exist to justify this movie having Cloverfield in the title. All of the action and drama is happening in the space station, so anything that isn't directly related to that is pretty useless to viewers.
It's safe to say that the worst elements of The Cloverfield Paradox are the parts that deal with Cloverfield. However, even without that, this movie likely wouldn't be much better. There are definitely some cool parts (the dismembered arm, the lady teleported into the wall of the ship) but the characters are mostly empty shells and the tone is pretty uneven throughout. This movie wouldn't have gotten the same amount of attention without the Cloverfield name, but I'm not pessimistic enough to say that it was turned into a Cloverfield film so that it would make more money. Maybe J.J. Abrams saw the movie and genuinely felt it would fit right into the Clover-verse.
But, if Abrams is so intent on keeping the Clover-verse alive, then why not just make Cloverfield movies from scratch? Why wouldn't you just hire a few writers to bang out ideas and go from there? Perhaps it's cheaper to take an already filming movie and add some extra scenes to it, but Cloverfield Paradox proves that this is a flawed strategy. Paradox may explain why there can be multiple Cloverfield movies, but that certainly comes at the expense of the films own story.
It also doesn't help that all the monster stuff in The Cloverfield Paradox doesn't feel very well thought out. There's no real explanation as to what's going on on Earth, and the ending with Clover (aka the OG monster from Cloverfield) makes no sense. Don't get me wrong; I don't think everything in a movie needs to be explained -- especially in a sci-fi movie -- and creating theories online can be fun, but Paradox doesn't even try to explain the monsters because the movie isn't about the monsters. The monsters are just an add-on to justify the title. If they had begun with the idea of tying The Cloverfield Paradox into the Clover-verse, I have to imagine it would have been smoother than what we eventually got.
With only two sequels in the bank, it's not really fair to say that this strategy is 100% flawed. 10 Cloverfield Lane is actually really good, but that doesn't have much to do with the Cloverfield portions. Like Paradox, 10 Cloverfield Lane was made a part of the franchise later in production. The Cloverfield stuff is arguably the worst part of the movie, but it doesn't get in the way of the enjoyment. So, really, the strategy is 50-50 right now. We know of at least one more Cloverfield movie that's on the way, and it's just as secretive as its predecessors. Whether or not it's more of a 10 Cloverfield Lane or Cloverfield Paradox, we'll just have to wait and see.