It’s been ten years since the release of Cloverfield, the modern monster movie which delighted horror/sci-fi fans in 2008. The frightening and at times confusing Cloverfield left its disastrous mark on monster cinema among the likes of King Kong and Godzilla, winning the “Best Experimental Film” at the International Film Critics Awards (IFCU), it’s movie magic is memorable to a lot of people to this day. 

Directed by Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes, The Batman) and starring Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls), Jessica Lucas (Evil Dead) and T.J. Miller (Ready Player One), this out-of-the-box alien/monster movie mashup has left a lasting impression on the horror genre. Using the hand-held camera method made popular by The Blair Witch Project in 1999, Cloverfield follows a group of friends venturing deep into the chaotic streets of Manhattan on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack. The action-packed debut rocked moviegoers everywhere – opening at the top spot with just over $40 million at the box office – and in 2016, we finally got an equally thrilling and even more surprising sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Opening in theatres eight years after its predecessor, Cloverfield producer J.J. Abrams teamed up with rookie director Dan Trachtenberg (Black Mirror) to bring a most suspenseful and mysterious sequel straight out of left Cloverfield. Filmed nothing like the original and set almost completely in a bunker below ground, 10 Cloverfield Lane follows Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, FX’s Fargo) after a car accident as she wakes up in a shelter with two strange men – Howard (John Goodman, Roseanne) and Emmet, (John Gallagher Jr., The Belko Experiment) – who claim the outside world is affected by an extensive chemical attack.

10 Cloverfield Lane opened to mixed reviews, and although the bulk of the mystery/thriller kept audiences engaged and enticed, both fans and critics vocalized their lack of enthusiasm about another open-ended finale. Ties to the original movie seemed non-existent as the Cloverfield monster was nowhere in sight and besides an unknown outside threat to humanity, the two films seemed to exist separately. Opening at #2 at the box office with just over $25 million domestically, another Cloverfield movie – to bring the franchise to a full circle moment of clarity – has been awaited ever since.

After two full years of changed plans and cancellations surrounding the production of the third installment, producer J.J. Abrams took some notes from current pop culture business and released not just a surprise trailer during the Superbowl, but a surprise exclusive release of the film, Cloverfield Paradox, on Netflix, shortly thereafter.

The desire to consume entertainment and media has become savagely developed into a “here and now” mentality, where the consumer wants more product (whether it be music, film, video games, etc.) in less time. With “Cloverfield 3,” we see a movie trilogy that took ten full years to come to fruition then devoured within hours of its release. Netflix garnered a surprising amount of positive press for the stunt even before fans were able to watch the film.

Originally titled God Particle, J.J. Abrams third film in the Cloverfield franchise follows scientists on an international space station orbiting planet Earth on the brink of war. Testing a particular device to solve an energy crisis, the crew come face-to-face with an alternate reality but the only main connection these three films have with one another is that they’re all completely different.

Fans took to the internet to praise the long-awaited sci-fi film for its black director (Julius Onah) and lead actress, as the genre is known for its overuse of white talent; lead actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw (A Wrinkle in Time) plays British scientist Ava Hamilton, who is desperate to come back to an earth she recognizes after terrifying and unexplainable events unfold paralleling a more polished prequel, Prometheus.

The Cloverfield Paradox’s diverse cast (including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Zhang Ziyi), gruesome and jaw-dropping sci-fi deaths and prevalent CGI are all very strong but they’re not enough to make this movie a home run, unfortunately. Laced with slow-paced dialogue and confusing interstellar occurrences that lead up to a less than monumental climax, all three films tie-in, just not in the way fans expected or even desired. While it’s an interesting and intricate take on a prequel, the whole story is far removed, and yet again, ends with a disappointing finale. It could have been so much more.

If there is ever going to be a Cloverfield 4, J.J. Abrams should definitely revisit its monster movie roots because the true paradox in this fizzled out trilogy is the existence of the original monster. 

3 Popcorn Kernels / 5

Watch the trailer.

About the Author

Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.