Netflix surprised the heck outta audiences yesterday when - in the midst of Super Bowl LII - they announced there was a brand new Cloverfield movie coming to their platform...IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE GAME WAS OVER. Yes, the movie was ANNOUNCED and RELEASED within the span of about 3 hours. Which isn't too unusual for the Cloverfield series - the first film (just titled "Cloverfield") was shot in secret and released an incredibly memorable trailer that didn't even give away the TITLE (let alone release date) of the film, and the second film (titled "10 Cloverfield Lane") was announced only a month before its release date. In other words, unconventional rollouts are pretty par for the course for Cloverfield.
This one has easily been the most unusual yet - it was originally titled "The God Particle" and it's unclear whether it was originally intended as part of the Cloverfield-verse at all (the finished film is very definitely part of that universe). But more importantly, it was intended for a theatrical release sometime in April 2018. But Netflix scooped it up and decided to use the Super Bowl as a splashy advertising platform for one of its most daring moves yet.
But enough about how it got released - the movie itself has an interesting premise: what would a group of astronauts do if they accidentally did something that caused the Earth to seemingly disappear? Needless to say, we have a few questions ourselves.
One of the few fun bits of business in the movie came from Chris O'Dowd's Mundy and the saga of randomly losing his arm - and then it coming back. The strange thing is that the arm that returns (and seems to have sentience of its own) isn't the one Mundy lost - meaning (presumably) that Mundy "traded" arms with the alternate universe Mundy. Mundy clearly states he's not controlling the arm at all, and the arm has knowledge that the rest of the crew couldn't possibly have had any awareness of (the gyroscope being jammed in Volkov's corpse).
But...what? Jensen was the only survivor of the alternate universe's crew, as the rest crashed with the station into the Atlantic Ocean. And even if Mundy had somehow survived AND was aware of his arm moving about in an alternate universe, how the hell would he have known to tell the crew about the gyroscope being inside Volkov? Did the alternate universe Volkov also have a gyroscope stuck inside of him? Even though that universe never got the Shepard Accelerator working? And even though the instant the film's crew got theirs working, it obliterated the other Cloverfield Station and caused it to crash and presumably killed Volkov and the rest of the crew before anyone had a chance to cut anyone open?!
...also WHY DIDN'T THE SENTIENT ARM COME BACK INTO PLAY IN THE CLIMAX? IT WAS RIGHT THERE AND WOULD HAVE BEEN A FUN CALLBACK. Never introduce a living arm in a box in act 1 unless you plan on using it in act 3.
The first bit of sinister goings-on is when Volkov's eyes start going wonky and we notice he has worms crawling around under his skin - but then he gets some kind of info from the alternate universe when talking in the mirror (I have no idea how, and the movie certainly doesn't care enough to explain) confirming his suspicions that Schmidt is a lying traitorous bastard and must be stopped. What does Volkov do with this information? He goes to the station's 3D printer and...prints a gun and some bullets.
Because APPARENTLY someone pre-loaded the schematics for a gun and some bullets into this scientific space station's 3D printer before all the sci-fi wackiness began.
There is no reason imaginable to pre-load A GUN onto their 3D printer - and since they had already been transported to Universe-B and had no communication or connection to any other information source, there's no way Volkov could have downloaded the schematics.
Honestly, this makes even less sense than Armageddon's infamous "gun on a space shuttle" bit. Bravo, JJ Abrams - you out plothole'd Michael Bay.
Ya know, I probably wouldn't be thinking too clearly if I was responsible for the deaths of my two young children, went up into space, got zapped into an alternate dimension, and was told an alternate version of me and my family were alive and well on an alternate Earth. That kind of experience might mess with my judgment a bit - but still, given more than 10 seconds to consider things, I'd probably realize what Hamilton never really puts together: WHAT THE HELL WOULD I EVEN DO THERE?
An alternate, grief-stricken, existentially-displaced me rolling into normal, happy me's life would be...bad. I would want to keep this WALKING AFFRONT TO NATURE the hell away from my family, especially because they seem to be using the idea of my family's existence as a balm for a deep-seated emotional wound - in other words, I'd be getting a restraining order ASAP. And because this version of the world is already engaged in a devastating world war, there's a pretty good chance my family is gonna be obliterated, and then alternate me will have to experience that nightmare all over again.
In other words, watch seasons 2 and 3 of Fringe, stop using alternate universes to replace lost family members, and go back to your very nice husband and rescue him from his boring, distracting subplot.
When Volkov starts having eye issues and becomes weirdly calm about attacking Schmidt, my assumption was that the ship (or some strange entity) was "possessing" him and we were in for some Event Horizon-style madness and murder - especially once he started coughing up blood and exploded worms everywhere. And then...nothing. No one had any "space madness" or any indication of possession, and it increasingly seemed like the worms being inside Volkov were just...regular worms, that were all up in Volkov for no real reason (and Volkov's resolve for killing Schmidt was due to some alternate universe communication about Schmidt's betrayal).
That's the story of my experience with the whole movie, really - I kept expecting a certain explanation for all the goofy weirdness going on, something that would really tie it all together in a nice bow, and instead - nothing. Nada. Not even really an ATTEMPT at making all the pieces fit - just chalking up all the weirdness to the titular "Cloverfield Paradox," which apparently just causes random whatever to happen because the director thought it might look cool, I guess? The only bit that comes close to making sense seems like Jensen being stuck in the walls - but even that feels deeply unsatisfying (why the hell was she making monster noises?).
And probably most importantly - alternate universes smashing into each other in weird ways is one thing, but where the hell did the Cloverfield monster come from? Things from separate universes colliding in weird ways and fighting for space makes sense given the premise of the movie - but it's still VERY unclear where all the Cloverfield monsters are coming from. Did Earth-2 have an unrelated monster problem that Jensen forgot to mention?
Jensen's verrry close to being a kind of sympathetic villain, at least on paper - some other crew from some other universe messes up, blows her space station out of the sky (and sets back their scientific pursuits enough to potentially destroy her world's last chance of survival), and gets her stuck in the wall (which looks pretty painful). You can see why she might be a little peeved at this crew, and feel like she has a duty to steal their Shepard Accelerator as a last hope for saving her dying, warring planet before it's too late.
Except, uh, her logic is all off - she says plainly that OF COURSE she's willing to trade three lives (Monk, Schmidt, and Hamilton) for the lives of 8 billion people on Earth-2. The only problem with that logic is that she's ALSO damning the 8 billion people on Earth-1 - who will have no Shepard Accelerator AND assume the damn machine didn't work (along with losing the two key architects of it). In other words, Earth-1 would have lost its only hope of a renewable energy source and would descend into the exact kind of world-ending chaos that has engulfed Earth-2 (and also Cloverfield monsters, but there's no way of Jensen knowing that bit).
Here's the other (minor) issue with Jensen's Very Bad Plan - how the hell does she plan on maneuvering the Cloverfield station back to Earth-2? It's on the OTHER SIDE OF THE SUN from Earth-2, and most of its systems are irreparably damaged. Add into account Earth-2 is in an apocalyptic world war, it might be tough to arrange a bunch of space shuttles to tow it back (assuming such a thing is even possible) in any reasonable amount of time. Really, the best option would be to just send the denizens of Earth-2 the full plans and instructions for the Shepard Accelerator and hope they can build a new one in time (which is what Hamilton eventually does).
And a minor additional bother to Jensen's plan: how did Jensen know about the gun?! It was locked away before she woke up! Did someone casually mention "hey we got a 3D printed gun in the lockbox, FYI" to her?
They lightly brush this away with Schmidt saying some nonsense about "Quantum entanglement" - but according to quantum mechanics, there should be INFINITE universes, and even the tiniest differences should be blasting their station to a completely different third universe (assuming blasting the entire space station through time and space for a second time doesn't erase them from reality or cause even MORE random weird bullshit to happen). You would think they would realize that - in this reality - smashing Higgs-Boson particles together tends to result in "insane bad shit happening" and also flinging them to unfamiliar universes - not really sure why they think that doing the same thing twice somehow gets you back to square one (even though that IS what happens).
Granted, it's not a hard sci-fi movie - but you'd think they would try a little bit harder with stuff like this (and the entire notion of "gravity" throughout the film).
*I'm sure there must have been a cut line about 'artificial gravity' on the space station or something where they handwave away why the production crew didn't have to go through a complicated "zero gravity" simulation for the duration of the movie, but it might have been nice for the movie to at least bother mentioning that. Because, ya know, when they were looking for ways to save on power, turning off an artificial gravity generator miiight have been a good option.
If I just had to watch "bad shit goes down on a space station and people start getting murdered", why didn't I just watch two objectively all-time greats? Sure, both films have issues, but have a lot of redeeming qualities and are hugely fun to watch - which is more than I can say for The Cloverfield Paradox.
At least that last shot was pretty cool - if only the things leading up to it felt like they had any purpose.