W.B. at the movies: The Cloverfield Paradox


I love the idea of The Cloverfield Paradox. J.J. Abrams produced the film in secret, and Netflix released it unexpectedly – right after the Super Bowl after promoting it only in two short trailers during and after the game.

I love it because they pulled off a surprise in this techy world where everyone can know everything about upcoming pop culture projects. I love it because it disrupts the movie industry – not disruption for the sake of disruption, but because it’s something new that might be an improvement on the old ways – releasing a major film without much hype and direct to our living room.

It doesn’t matter if the film is any good – if it isn’t, one day a great film will be released in this way.

And now that I’ve watched it, The Cloverfield Paradox is better than some of the reviews led me to expect. It’s perhaps not the most compelling of the three Cloverfield movies but it’s easily the one with the most answers. We finally see the threads that tie together the giant monster dismantling New York and the bizarre stuff the denizens of the 10 Cloverfield Lane bunker see when they climb back to the surface.

The reviews I’ve seen say we aren’t motivated to care about the characters – but I cared – and complain about what the reviewers perceive as plot holes – but are they plot holes? The plot isn’t tied up in a tidy bundle, and some things don’t seem to make sense, but how is that different from the first two Cloverfield movies? Hmm?

The Netflix model is fun – so many projects waiting to be discovered, often unexpected, often quite good, with an undeniable edge. This may be the future, migrating from the walls of movie theaters to our family rooms, although few shared experiences are as delightful as watching a brilliant movie with a large and appreciative audience.

Whenever I hear the classic line, “Round up the usual suspects,” my heart returns to the moment when I first heard it, in the early 1970s at a Friday night screening filled with college kids who had never seen the film. The triumphant roar from that packed crowd was exhilarating.