“The Cloverfield Paradox”: space station movie, 3rd in a series, has a spaghetti plot for Super Bowl Monday morning viewing on Netflix

The Cloverfield Paradox” (2018, by Julius Onah, with story from Oren Unziel) is the third in Paramount’s (and Bad Robot’s) “Cloverfield” franchise, following “Cloverfield” (2008), where New Yorkers film a monster attack on camcorders, and “10  Clovefield Lane” (2016), where a woman hangs out in a bunker in Louisiana during a monster attack.

Netflix is releasing the film now (announcing it during the Super Bowl) which is a sign that this would not have been well received in theaters.

The film opens with a dire energy crisis (not necessarily connected to climate change) with gasoline rationing and long lines on the streets, with roving blackouts.  And Russia is threatening to attack western Europe (not just the former Baltic republics).  At the same time, there is a Cloverfield Space Station, housing scientists, including the heroine Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), is supposed to implement the Shepard Particle Accelerator, which will use quantum physics to generate free energy for all of Earth and end the crisis.

Once they start the accelerator, weird stuff happens, most of it not good. The Earth seems to disappear from sight.  Soon a woman, Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki) Is found in the walls, like a mouse, bloodied. A Russian representative, Volkov (Aksel Hennie) complains about the politics and then suddenly vomits, his body filled with worms. A technician Mundy (Chris O’Dowd) loses his hairless arm in the wall, and then the arm takes on its own panpsychic identity, writing notes. The plot gets very complicated and impossible to follow (read the Wikipedia summary), but it seems they are in an alternate universe and somehow people can get through from Earth through a wormhole.

The space station is rather interesting geographically, with several rotating rings each with its own artificial gravity, and some connecting tunnels, more or less like the Mobius subway in my own screenplay “Epiphany”, based on my three “Do Ask, Do Tell” books.  I don’t see this as a “Cloverfield 4”, but maybe I could get Paramount and Netflix interested in making it.  (This film cost $45 million, so I guess that’s about what I need for my movie.)

Soon there are explosions, and then self-reassembly (violating the entropy laws in thermodynamics), and Jensen raises a question about morality, whether Ava would sacrifice the Earth and her own family down there for her own ego in this new universe.  But return the spaceship must.  The attractive engineer Schmidt (Daniel Bruhl) sacrifices part of his chest to a Holter Monitor that Ava installs on him for the journey.

But at the end, this turns out to be a monster movie after all.  My own screenplay does not.

Name:  “The Cloverfield Paradox”
Director, writer:  Julius Onah, Oran Unziel, J.J. Abrams (prod)
Released:  2018
Format: 2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Netflix instant, 2018/2/5
Length:  102
Rating:  TV MA-14 (PG-13)
Companies:  Paramount, Bad Robot, Netflix
Link:  adweek
Stars:  3 / 5   (***–)

(Posted: Tuesday, February 6, 2018. 11 AM EST)