How The Cloverfield Paradox links to the other Cloverfield movies

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Feb 5, 2018, 1:58 PM EST (Updated)

One of the great mysteries of our time is not where we come from or what our purpose in life is, but where in the heck did the Cloverfield monster come from? Since the found footage movie debuted back in 2008, fans have been wondering about the answer to that very quandary. We thought we might get an answer with 10 Cloverfield Lane, but sadly, it had almost nothing to do with Cloverfield except for its supernatural element at the end.

Finally, we have an explanation thanks to The Cloverfield Paradox, the third installment in the franchise, which attempts to tie the previous two films together. The movie surprised everyone by having a non-existent marketing campaign before dropping entirely on Netflix after the Super Bowl. That was a stroke of brilliance in terms of publicity, but it was necessary because The Cloverfield Paradox is not a great movie. On the flipside, it's not an entirely bad one either, but this kind of release generates a kind of hype that requires a further excellence to match.

**Spoiler alert: Spoilers for The Cloverfield Paradox below!**

The Cloverfield Paradox got flashes of a great feature and moments of a terrible one, but overall, it just feels like two different movies, scattershot and incomplete, an unsatsifying mix of Gravity and Alien without the groundbreaking components of either. Apparently, it wasn't even supposed to be part of the Cloverfield mythos and went through retooling to retcon the plot, so it could fit into the universe. Regardless, it doesn't live up to its talented cast of Daniel Brühl, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Chris O'Dowd, Elizabeth Debicki, and John Ortiz.

Originally titled God Particle, The Cloverfield Paradox takes place in a world where resources, particularly oil, are running out fast, thrusting Earth into a major energy crisis. To try and find an unlimited and sustainable source of power, an international crew is sent to a gyrating space station equipped with the largest particle accelerator ever created; the risk of firing it is so dangerous they have to operate above the planet. After two years of failed testing, something finally happens, but just not what they expected. The Earth disappears from view, and strange things start to happen on the station as well as on Earth. They soon discover that the smashing of a Higgs boson particle has transported them to an alternate dimension while bringing about other, more terrifying changes back home.

The movie does answer a bunch of mysteries about the franchise, like why all these movies have "Cloverfield" in their titles. Even with its shoddy retroactive continuity, the film takes place on the Cloverfield Station, where the accelerator is located. "The Cloverfield Paradox" refers to two realities vying for dominance after they collide and the chaos they create not only between them, but in the past, future, and alternate realities.

"That accelerator is a thousand times more powerful than any every built," says Donal Logue in his short cameo as Mark Stambler, the writer of a book titled "The Cloverfield Paradox." "Every time they test it, they risk ripping open the membrane of space-time, smashing together multiple dimensions, shattering reality. And not just on that station, everywhere. This experiment could unleash chaos, the likes of which we have never seen: Monsters, demons, beasts from the sea."

It is revealed by the end that the experiment unleashed the Cloverfield monster (or monsters) on Earth. The one in the original movie was just a baby and thus only as tall as a skyscraper, but the one we see at the end of The Cloverfield Paradox towers above the clouds. Based on Stambler's theory, the accelerator brought these beasts not only into a future Earth struggling with energy problems, but to the Earth in 2008. Moreover, the experiment could have caused the alien invasion in 10 Cloverfield Lane, meaning all these supernatural occurrences can be traced back to the Cloverfield Station. Sounds a bit like the Arrowhead Project in Stephen King's The Mist, doesn't it?

The twist is somewhat lackluster and destroys some of the mystique surrounding what was shaping up to be an anthology series whose installments were related only by name. Still, that final ending of the monster breaking through the clouds and roaring should be a totally "HOLY S**T!" moment of nerdy pleasure for hardcore fans who were hoping they'd be able to see the creature again after ten long years. That ending shock definitely ranked with the final moments of last summer's Life, another pale imitation of Alien and Gravity that had a great ending.

Nevertheless, retconning the monster's origin slightly goes against years of established lore within this world. A piece of the original movie's marketing campaign revolved around a fictional soft drink called Slusho!, which was made with an addicting nectar scraped from the bottom of the sea. The company behind the drink accidentally woke up the monster, which was apparently asleep for thousands of years at the bottom of the ocean. It was able to grow to its giant size by consuming that nectar, which caused rapid cell division.

That's what made it so mysterious as we had no idea what this animal was, how it evolved, and how it existed so long without our knowing. The Cloverfield Paradox muddles this up by saying the beast is actually from another dimension, which could just mean the particle accelerator transported a baby version of the monster to the volcanic oceans of prehistoric times and it hibernated until being awoken. Or was it the mysterious object that fell into the ocean at the end of Cloverfield? But if it's from another dimension, how do they grow so big without the nectar? They do pay homage to Slusho! with a little bobble head on the space station, but everything is just more confusing than it was before and that monster appearance at the finale is just pure geek tease, albeit a highly satisfying one.

A fourth Cloverfield movie, Overlord, is set for October and takes place in the days following the invasion on D-Day during WWII. It will follow a group of American paratroopers who discover the Nazis are using supernatural forces to try and win the war. Will it be related to The Cloverfield Paradox or forge its own path? Will the monster ever be seen again? What did you think of its origin story finally being revealed?