*. As these things go, the Cloverfield universe (or “Cloververse”) is a small place. It’s also a surprisingly slapdash construction.
*. The first film, 2008’s Cloverfield was crap: a late entry in the shaky-cam sweepstakes with a bunch of unlikeable characters running around New York City as it’s being attacked by aliens. Who said we needed more of that?
*. But there would be more to the Cloververse, coming by way of random instalments. Next up would be 10 Cloverfield Lane, which was an unrelated script (titled The Cellar) tweaked to line-up, vaguely, with Cloverfield. A Quiet Place was apparently first conceived as another Cloverfield picture but later developed independently. Then we have this movie, which was based on a spec script (titled God Particle) that, as with The Cellar, was retrofitted to be part of the Cloververse. But again the connecting links are slight, to the point where if “Cloverfield” hadn’t been put in the title I’m not sure many people would have made the connection.
*. Even without this background you’d be forgiven for thinking The Cloverfield Paradox slapdash. It went way over budget, the release was pushed back on a couple of occasions, and Paramount was so pessimistic of its chances that it was sold to Netflix, who released it on demand after a surprise reveal in a Super Bowl commercial.
*. Critics were hostile and ratings underwhelming. It is not, however, a terrible movie. The premise held promise. A space station operating a particle accelerator in orbit accidentally rips a hole in spacetime, leading to the chaotic intrusion of one universe into another.
*. Unfortunately, aside from giving us the captain’s wonderful line “This dimension is eating us alive,” the story never goes anywhere. It is also wrapped up in a farfetched way that brings us back to the Cloverfield Earth, now under attack by ginormous monsters. I had supposed that returning to the original universe would not be as simple as turning the particle accelerator back on, but the film was running out of time.
*. So it’s not that bad. It’s just not that good. Despite nods to various SF-horror tropes there are no standout scenes of suspense or horror, nor any of the loopiness of Event Horizon or Pandorum to bail it out. The laugh lines all fall flat. The twist is so obvious it doesn’t deserve the name. It’s clear they didn’t know where they wanted to go with this and so ended up nowhere. The lack of confidence Paramount showed in it was deserved, but given the looseness of the franchise it’s hard to see this episode as being much of a setback. In addition to all its different media platforms, the Cloververse would now have multiple dimensions to expand into.