Warning: This story contains major plot spoilers for The Cloverfield Paradox. Proceed with caution.
Curiosity about the latest Cloverfield movie had been steadily escalating for the past few months, not only because its release date kept changing (most recently, we expected it in April), but also because the film still lacked an official title. All we knew was that it would likely be part of the ongoing sci-fi franchise launched by mystery box master, J.J. Abrams, a decade ago in 2008. All speculation ceased last night when the film debuted its first teaser commercial — with an official title, The Cloverfield Paradox — during the Super Bowl, and then premiered in its entirety after the game on Netflix.
Directed by Julius Onah and written by Oren Uziel, the third Cloverfield outing focuses on an international group of astronauts — including Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) and Tam (Zhang Ziyi) — living and working on the Cloverfield Station, where they’re trying to solve the world’s dire energy crisis by using a hazardous energy-creating device known as the Shepard Accelerator. As one might expect, things don’t go quite as planned, and the ensuing out-of-this-world action provides some significant clues about the mysteries first raised by the original Cloverfield and 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane. Those who haven’t yet seen the sequel may want to avert their eyes at this point, as spoilers follow. But for the rest of you, here’s our rundown of the five biggest revelations we gleaned from The Cloverfield Paradox. —Nick Schager and Ethan Alter
1. It’s an origin story for the entire series
Early on in the film, scientist/author Mark Stambler (Donal Logue) is seen on TV discussing the titular paradox, a situation that might arise should the Shepard Accelerator’s immense power — which is so dangerous it can only be tested in space — rip a hole in the space-time continuum, thereby creating a portal to other dimensions through which demons and monsters might travel. That’s an early tip-off that these proceedings are intent on explaining how the Cloverfield monster first found its way to Manhattan and rudely interrupted Rob Hawkins’s going-away party. Throughout Paradox, we’re shown teasing glimpses of another rampaging creature terrorizing the public, including Ava’s husband, Michael (Roger Davies). And the film’s final shot, in which a titanic beast’s roaring head emerges through the planet’s clouds, further confirms that the interdimensional events we just witnessed are, in fact, the franchise’s origin story. Maybe it should have been called Cloverfield Begins?
2. Enter the multiverse
It’s not just monsters that can travel through a Shepard Accelerator-enabled dimensional rift; following a station-rocking explosion, the Cloverfield crew finds themselves orbiting an alternate Earth as well, leading to some strange phenomena as the two worlds struggle to coexist. The energy crisis down on Terra Firma 2.0 is still dire, but there are also some ways in which it’s the superior planet. For instance, Ava’s two children–who are died in a tragic fire back on her world–are still alive and well here. Her shock, and relief, at that discovery is so great, she very nearly decides to stay behind, abandoning Michael at the very same time that he’s trying to avoid becoming creature food. In the end, though, she’s one of two crew members who survives to make it back to the proper timeline. Now that Paradox has opened the door, so to speak, to the multiverse concept, there’s no limit to where the franchise can go next. That said, they should probably evacuate to an Earth that isn’t overrun by giant monsters.
3. Beneath the waves
During the last scene of the original Cloverfield, eagle-eyed viewers caught sight of a mysterious object plunging into the Atlantic Ocean while Rob and his girlfriend, Beth (Odette Yustman) enjoyed an otherwise happy day at Coney Island. At the time, a popular theory was that we were witnessing the monster falling to Earth, a suggestion that Paradox supports since the space station opened a rift that the critter could travel through. But it’s worth noting that, on the alternate Earth, the Cloverfield itself fell from the sky and ended up in the Atlantic, killing everyone onboard. Is this another case where the two universes are bleeding together, with events from one repeating themselves in the other?
4. We drink your Slusho!
J.J. Abrams has long included mentions of the fictional soft drink Slusho! in his TV shows (Alias, Fringe) and movies (Super 8, Star Trek). In the original Cloverfield, Rob even wore a T-shirt bearing the beverage’s logo. That film’s viral marketing campaign also insinuated that the Japanese conglomerate (Tagruato) that makes the beverage was somehow responsible for awakening the Cloverfield monster due to its ocean mining operations. While this film appears to undercut that theory, Slusho! makes an appearance via a bobblehead aboard the the Cloverfield Station. Is it just a shout-out to Abrams’s version of Red Apple cigarettes? Or a hint that Tagruato is a Weyland Corporation-type outfit on the hunt for intergalactic creatures? You decide.
5. The Earth strikes back
All signs point to the Cloverfield franchise returning later this year in the form of Overlord, a World War II-era thriller set for release on Oct. 26. Rather than turn the clock back, we’re looking forward to the battle that’s ahead. See, the ending of each Cloverfield film to date has indicated that mankind is actively fighting back against the invaders, with the military bombing Manhattan into oblivion in the original film, while former prisoner Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) heads off to join a Houston-based band of resistance fighters at the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane. Paradox concludes with Ava headed for a splashdown off the Delaware coast, where she’ll presumably be met by the Army, as well as Michael should he manage to make it there in time. Here’s hoping we’re headed for Cloverfield‘s answer to The Avengers, where franchise survivors Ava, Michelle, and Lily — remember her? — assemble take the fight directly to the invading aliens.
The Cloverfield Paradox is streaming on Netflix now.
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