The Corner

The Cloverfield Paradox

During the Super Bowl, Netflix ran a really enticing ad for The Cloverfield Paradox, the third, er, film in what you might call the “Cloverfield” franchise.

Before I go on to say anything else, I need to warn you here and now: It’s garbage. Now, it’s true that there are one or two moments that have some value. Chris O’Dowd manages a funny scene or two. But you could also find a stray edible slice of pizza in a dumpster. Or if you spelunk around the town dump, you might find a single nostalgia-arousing joystick from an Atari 2600 or a partially stained, mostly faded poster for Smokey and the Bandit Part 3. But let’s be honest, these sorts of things are not such diamonds in the muck that they achieve escape velocity from garbage status.

If you’re worried about spoilers, seek help. Indeed, I shouldn’t even warn you that there are spoilers ahead because I am doing a public service every time I prevent someone from watching this thing. But I am a servant of the forms. So. Spoilers Ahead.

The story takes place in the very near future. The world is on the brink of a global “energy war.” Somehow, Germany is doing well in this energy shortage, but Russia is dying. A bunch of scientists from a Benetton ad are on a space station trying to discover some stable form of inexhaustible energy. They try. It doesn’t work. But they have crossed the beams, as it were, and another mirror dimension has stumbled into ours, and the two dimensions are “fighting” for ontological control of reality. A wall bites off Chris O’Dowd’s arm. But the wound makes it seem like he’d been missing his arm all along! A few minutes later they find the arm crawling up a hallway. They grab the arm, which is fighting them, and put it in a box. The hand at the end of the severed arm starts miming that it’s writing something. “Get it a pen!” They give it a pen. It turns out that the hostile, sentient arm was an ally all along! It writes that they should cut open the Russian scientist who a few scenes earlier had blown up because he was so full of worms. Inside, his torso, they find the device that can save the space station. Eventually, after a bunch of people die or get murdered, the few survivors make it to Earth, where there is a giant monster much bigger than the one in the original Cloverfield movie. The end.

Some other stuff happens, but these are the best parts and the ones that make the most sense.

Anyway, I gather that what happened is this: Paramount was going to release this thing as a theatrical movie. But, knowing that this is the Tide Pod of sci-fi movies, they decided to treat Netflix like Mikey from the old Life cereal commercials. “Make Netflix try it, they’ll try anything.” Or maybe the executives at Netflix had been on a three-day coke binge, and in a sleep-deprived state, they agreed to buy this thing sight unseen. Whatever the truth of the matter, someone at Netflix watched it and realized that, while they thought they had ordered a filet, what they had was a soiled diaper under the brass dome.

So what did they do? They bought an ad for the Super Bowl. And figured the shock value would get an army of suckers to watch it. I am one of those suckers.

The amazing thing is that this may have been a success for Netflix, too. Maybe, but crying wolf — or giant monster — and delivering garbage doesn’t seem like a great long-term strategy to me.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Science & Tech

Set NASA Free

The Trump administration has proposed shifting the International Space Station from a NASA-exclusive research facility to a semi-public, semi-private one. Its plan would nix all government funding for the ISS by 2025 and award at least $150 million per year to NASA to help with the transition. This would be a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More