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Film / The Cloverfield Paradox

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The Cloverfield Paradox is a 2018 sci-fi horror film, directed by Julius Onan, written by Oren Uziel & Doug Jung, and produced (as always) by J. J. Abrams.

It is the third installment of the Cloverfield series, following 2008's Cloverfield and 2016's 10 Cloverfield Lane, and serves as a hypothetical sequel to both. In a first for the franchise, it was distributed internationally by Netflix on February 4th, 2018, mere hours after its first trailer dropped.

The film stars Gugu Mbatha Raw, Chris O'Dowd, Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Donal Logue, David Oyelowo, and Zhang Ziyi.

A fourth Cloverfield film, which is to be written by Joe Barton, is in development. It will directly follow the events of the original film, but it will utilize the camera format seen in 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox rather than the Found Footage style of the original.

The Cloverfield Paradox provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Though an exact date is never given, the film begins Just Before the End, when Post-Peak Oil is causing a massive, world ending energy crisis. All There in the Manual material from the Alternate Reality Game suggests that the movie is set in 2028.
  • Alternate Universe: The Cloverfield station is transported to an alternate dimension where the world is at war due to dwindling resources, their station crashed to Earth two days prior, Jensen was their crewmate instead of Tam, and Hamilton is a civilian on Earth whose children are still alive. It's also heavily implied that it also causes numerous other dimensions to phase into their universe, resulting in giant monsters and possibly aliens.
  • Ambiguous Ending: As far as the surviving protagonists are concerned, Hamilton's and Schmidt's ultimate fate isn't shown. Earth at large though, well...
  • An Arm and a Leg: Mundy's arm is ripped off by dimensional phasing, but unusually for the trope it's painless and clean, and his bone and veins are exposed to no ill effect. His arm comes back later on, still alive, but a separate entity that Mundy no longer controls even when he's dead.
  • Anti-Villain: Jensen. At the climax, she holds the station at gunpoint to keep the Shepard in her dimension, however, it's all for the sake of using it to create the resources which lack is causing her world to be plunged into war.
    Jensen: If you're asking if I would kill three people to save eight billion... wouldn't you?
  • Artistic License – Physics: Invoked. The titular paradox has warped reality to the point where natural law doesn’t apply anymore.
    • The station has several spinning drums, apparently providing Artificial Gravity. However, people are walking on floors of those drums instead of the rims. Additionally, there don't seem to be any access tunnels connecting central hubs of those drums to the rest of the station. The only way in and out appears to be diving from the rim of the spinning drum into a static corridor outside, and doing it fast enough to not be seared by the wall. It is never shown onscreen.
    • The alternate reality's station performed a Colony Drop not long before our universe's appeared on the other side. News coverage after the fact shows largely intact sections floating on the ocean, which is improbable for a range of reasons. "It would've largely broken/burned up during atmospheric reentry" and "it's not exactly built for buoyancy" are merely the most glaring ones.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Several scientists ask Monk to lead a prayer that beseeches God to provide a miracle and make the Particle Accelerator succeed: to defy the mathematical odds and and give them the answer they seek. The rest of the film reveals the costs and consequences afterwards.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Even allowing for futuristic medicine, Jensen looks improbably good for someone who had live power lines and pipes inside her.
  • Big "NO!": Jenson screams this as Ava allows her to be sucked into space to her death.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Schmidt mutters a few curses under his breath in untranslated, non-subtitled German. It's mostly tame stuff like "asshole!" or "what the hell?".
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Although she's fluent in English, at various times Tam speaks in her own language with the others apparently knowing enough Mandarin to understand her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hamilton defeats Jensen, sends a message to her alternate self to solve her planet's energy crisis, and together with Schmidt manages to get the station back to Earth and fix the particle accelerator saving the planet. However, the rest of the crew are dead, and Hamilton and Schmidt arrive on Earth at the same time the monster appears. And the monster is heavily implied to be the mother of the monster that was killed in the 2008 film.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Inverted - the dark-skinned cast is among the last to die, and one even survives to the end. Maybe.
  • Body Horror:
    • When the two dimensions merge, Jensen winds up painfully fused with the internal anatomy of the other dimension's station. This includes pipes driven through her flesh and electrified wires running underneath her skin.
    • After the merge, the worms that the station is farming - ostensibly for food - end up inside of Volkov. While they're inside of him, they clearly cause him considerable subconscious distress. Eventually, they come out of him. Violently.
  • Call-Back:
  • Canon Welding: The movie serves to explain how Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane are possibly connected.
  • Centrifugal Gravity: The station has lots of spinning sections to provide Centrifugal Gravity. The actual setup makes no sense physically, but hey, at least it looks cool.
  • Comm Links: The space station crew wear wristwatch-style communicators. Back on Earth everyone else just uses mobile phones.
  • Continuity Nod: Even as civilization winds down due to a worldwide energy crisis, the iconic Slusho soft drink brand continues to thrive.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Has serious shades of it. When the credits roll, Earth is overrun with incomprehensibly huge monsters that nobody really knows where they came from, and what's left of humanity has been forced underground since there's nothing they can do against the creatures. For all we know after the final Wham Shot, mankind is now circling the drain faster than ever before.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The literal version with Volkov's Gun. He uses the 3D printer (shown earlier creating bagels) to replicate a firearm, but it gets taken off him before it's fired and locked up in a safe. It's no surprise that someone forces open the safe in the final act and uses it.
    • There are a couple of shots of the tabletop soccer game; Ava removes a rod from it and uses it as an Improvised Weapon.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The crackpot author with his dire warnings about demons and monsters only sounds ridiculous to his audience because they don't know they're in a Cloverfield film.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: All the people who are killed die in rather gruesome ways.
    • Volkov gets fragged by worms and the station's Gyroscope.
    • Tam gets flash frozen in an airlock that filled with water and burst open into space. Before that, she was about to drown aboard a space station.
    • Sometime after losing his arm, Mundy gets strangled by nanobots and blown up by an oxygen tank colliding at high speed with an electromagnet.
    • Kiel separates from the rest of the station to stop a precessing ring from destroying the station, which will inevitably lead to death by suffocation.
    • Mina gets decompressed.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Just like its predecessor 10 Cloverfield Lane, this movie is one. Unlike Lane however, this movie was written and shot as a standalone film called The God Particle. The decision to Retool the movie into a Cloverfield sequel was made well into production, and it shows. Rewrites and reshoots have taken place, resulting in the scenes set on Earth having almost nothing to do with the rest of the movie, and the main premise of the experiment only being explained by an expert shown on a video screen. Originally, the experiment was to search for the Higgs boson, which did NOT want to be found; only one mention of it remains in the final cut.
  • Dwindling Party: The crew of the station slowly gets whittled down as the movie progresses. By the end only two (Ava and Schmidt) survive.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Cloverfield monster at the end is 50 times BIGGER than its original version.
  • Eldritch Location: Putting it mildly, after the jump, the Cloverfield Station wants all its occupants to die.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: Schmidt's counterpart is one, and comes under suspicion when the counterpart's treasonous journal entries overwrite his own in the database.
  • Everything Is 3D-Printed in the Future: The station has a3D printer, used to create food from worms being kept for protein. Someone has taped a "Worst Bagle Machine Ever" sticker on the printer, implying the stuff tastes about as great as it looks. It serves as a Chekhov's Gun for the creation of a literal Chekhov's Gun when it's used to 3D print a firearm.
  • Exact Time to Failure: A fairly justified example. When the station's maintenance ring is spinning out of control, Jensen calculates the angle at which it will tear the already damaged main spire apart, which is a reasonably precise process to predict. Said angle is then used as a countdown stand-in to create a pretty tense moment.
  • For Want Of A Nail: If Jensen is to be believed, all it took to horribly mess up the multiverse was a single Higgs boson being smashed apart in the Shepard.
  • Funny Background Event: When Hamilton is hiding from Jensen in the finale, Mundy's severed, boxed and apparently royally bored arm can be spotted in the background, drumming a lazy tattoo on the table with its fingers.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: The station's nutrient supply appears based on worm protein that gets 3D-printed into something vaguely resembling food. Someone actually taped a "Worst Bagle Machine Ever" sticker on the printer, implying the stuff tastes about as great as it looks. However, this sort of grub seems to be exclusive to astronauts in space (reasonable, given the logistical effort required to keep them supplied for a mission of unknown duration) while planetside meals appear to be largely the same as what we eat today.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: The original Clover monster is by no means "tiny", but it's positively miniscule compared to its parent, which rises above the cloud layer and is easily at least several kilometers tall!
  • Hell Is That Noise:
    • It turns out to be Jensen screaming because she was sealed inside the bulkhead during the dimensional shift.
    • Schmidt's attention is drawn to another strange sound. Mundy's arm crawling along the corridor.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kiel sacrifices himself to save the remaining crew.
  • History Repeats: In Jensen's universe, the entire world seems to be at war, a good part of which involves Germany invading Russia. Again.
  • Hope Spot: The surviving crew have returned home and have finally gotten the Shepard to fire successfully, providing clean, perpetually renewable energy for the entire world... which is now overrun by behemoth monsters from the first film (including Clover's parent).
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Subverted. A scientist posits that the use of the Shepard could create tears in space-time beyond what it hopes to simply bend for limitless energy, allowing extraterrestrial or demonic invaders access to the universe that uses it. While the resulting anomalies do endanger the crew significantly, the ultimate threat seems to be the understandable stresses and paranoia of the astronauts with none of them being actively or intentionally malevolent. Then it's revealed that the Shepard's activation has allowed actual enormous unstoppable monsters to invade Earth.
  • Hypocrite: When she tries to take over the Shepard, Jensen says that she's willing to kill the three people from another dimension to save the eight billions of people of her dimension. However, she doesn't seem to care about the fact that, by doing this, she's dooming the eight billions of people from their dimension to die as well.
  • Informed Attribute: Prologue exposition claims the world is only a few months away from exhausting its last remaining energy supplies, but the scenes set on Earth show absolutely nothing of the sort except for frequent blackouts, which can have a whole bunch of causes and are an annoyance even today. If mankind really were that close to running out of energy (which includes fossil fuels), civilian car traffic would've stopped long ago, municipal electricity coverage would be restricted to the bare minimum required for survival, and so on. Then the movie one-ups itself by jumping forward two years without any visible change in the fortunes of people planetside. It's highly likely the extensive reshoots and rewrites are to blame for the discrepancies - see Dolled-Up Installment above.
  • Jump Scare: Clover's mother is introduced in one.
  • Kaiju: The eponymous Cloverfield Paradox may cause these to appear via a Negative Space Wedgie. Ultimately, Clover itself, or at least one of its species (implied to be Clover's mother), appears in the conclusion.
  • Love Redeems: In the alternate universe Schmidt is a covert operative who betrays the crew and sabotages the particle accelerator. In the main universe he's still a covert operative, but ignores his orders and sincerely desires the project to succeed. The difference between the two realities is his intimate relationship with Tam, who is the space station's engineer in the main universe, but was replaced with Elizabeth in the alternate.
  • Madness Mantra: Tell them not to come back. Tell them not to come back! TELL THEM NOT TO COME BACK! Do you hear me? TELL THEM NOT TO COME BACK!!!
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Mundy reacts surprisingly relaxed to his right arm suddenly being missing. He actually seems more bewildered and fascinated than anything else, and he continues to act this way for most of his screen time. That he doesn't feel any pain or discomfort aside from, well, being short one hand for his work, probably plays a part in justifying his reactions.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The conspiracy theorist talking about the paradox towards the beginning of the film more or less explains — in a rather esoteric way — how the seemingly-unrelated movies in the series are actually related. Basically, the paradox from the incident leads to a ripple effect across the multiverse.
  • The Mole: The Alternate Universe's Schmidt was this, being under orders from the German government to stall the activation of the Shepard until Germany could win its war against Russia. This is not the case with the "main" version of Schmidt, and it results in trouble for him when the two universes collide. Much later on, Jensen becomes one of these when she is drafted into what remains of the main crew.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The Clover monster at the end is implied to be the mother of the original that it was looking for. It's big enough to peek out of the clouds.
  • Multinational Team: Seven crew members, seven nationalities. Some get along better than others. The German physicist and the Chinese engineer are implied to be an item.
  • The Multiverse: It's implied that all three Cloverfield films take place in one, and this is where everything goes to shit for all of them.
  • Myth Arc: It expands on the mythology established by the first film, compared to 10 Cloverfield Lane which is either set parallel to the original film, or in a different continuity entirely. They appear to fit into The Multiverse with one another at least.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: All it took was firing the Shepard device successfully once to destroy the lives of countless people across the multiverse.
  • Orifice Invasion: Part of Mundy's gruesome death.
  • The Radio Dies First: A variation; signals have gone dead because the Earth has disappeared!
  • Russian Guy Suffers Most: Out of everyone's fate, Volkov's is particularly unpleasant.
  • Sci-Fi Horror: Whereas Cloverfield was a found footage monster film and 10 Cloverfield Lane was a psychological thriller, The Cloverfield Paradox is a horror film with science fiction elements.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog Story: Well, it's a Cloverfield movie, so some form of Downer Ending was to be expected. After all the horror the Shepard crew had to go through, the survivors return home in more ways than one, only to find their world overrun by giant monsters and probably die the moment they breach the lower atmosphere. And since said monsters are implied to have forced humanity underground, there's little chance the Shepard technology will be of any good anymore.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Near the beginning of the film a conspiracy theorist insists that the tests occurring at the space station could open a portal or cause a dimensional rift that could lead to an invasion by aliens or demons.
    • A Plot Device meant to save Earth and, via The Multiverse, countless other worlds as well is named Shepard? Hm...
  • Space Is Cold: Apparently, a single hull breach is enough to instantly freeze an entire room filled with water.
    • As opposed to most of the water boiling due to being exposed to vacuum, and the rest of the water freezing gradually from temperature drop caused by said boiling.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: How Jensen dies.
  • Traitor Shot: Of Jensen, before they try to get the Shepard device started again.
  • Twist Ending: The survivors head back to the planet after solving the energy crisis, only to discover that the temporal shenanigans they unleashed caused the planet to become populated by monsters.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Most of the film concerns what happens on the station itself, but there's also a small subplot about Michael's struggles back on Earth.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Even though they saved her life after her body had fused with pipes and wires, Jensen is perfectly willing to kill the remaining members of the Shepard crew during the climax of the film.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Kill three people to save billions? Jensen thinks it's a reasonable position to take.
  • Wham Shot: At the very end, as the Cloverfield station's escape pod descends from space to Earth, a mindbogglingly huge Clover monster rises above the clouds and roars. However, there is a very brief and very vague silhouette of the monster's legs when Michael returns to his apartment to find it destroyed, thus foreshadowing the end.
  • Where It All Began: The incident on the station is what causes problems for all of the Cloverfield settings affected by it.