Produced by J. J. Abrams, Cloverfield Paradox is the third film in the Cloverfield Film Series. The film is set at a time when the Earth’s resources have been nearly consumed. A team of astronauts needs to head out into space to conduct an experiment on a particle accelerator to solve the energy crisis. Here’s the film Cloverfield Paradox explained and how it connects to the earlier movies. Spoilers ahead…
It’s the year 2028. The team includes :
Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw): British communications officer
Kiel (David Oyelowo): American commander
Ernst Schmidt (Daniel Brühl): German physicist, Shepard Engineer
Monk Acosta (John Ortiz): Brazilian doctor
Mundy (Chris O’Dowd): Irish engineer
Volkov (Aksel Hennie) : Russian engineer
Tam (Zhang Ziyi): Chinese Shepard engineer
A few years before the expedition, to have power at home, Ava siphons energy by installing power cells at her home. An accident occurs, and there is a fire. As a result, her two children end up dead. Now, Ava leaves her husband, Michael, on Earth and heads off on her mission to save the world.
What is the Cloverfield Paradox?
There is a scene in the film which has a conspiracy theorist, Mark Stambler, stating that the experiment is a bad idea as the Particle Accelerator might risk ripping open the membrane of space-time, smashing together multiple dimensions, and shattering reality. And not just on the space station, but everywhere. That the experiment could unleash chaos the likes of which have never been seen – monsters, demons, and beasts from the sea. And not just here and now, in the past, in the future, and in other dimensions. In short, the events of this movie is basically going to link to the other two films. We’ll get back to this in the end.
This is the name of the Particle Accelerator. Two years go by, and the crew is unable to get a stable beam. Countries begin preparing for war, for the sake of resources. Finally, they are able to create a steady beam and are on the verge of a breakthrough but …
The Cloverfield Paradox turns out to be true. The space station travels into a parallel dimension and gets dislodged far away from Earth. On their screens, they aren’t able to see the planet. Their initial conclusions are that they have somehow destroyed the Earth. The reality is that they have destroyed the space station from the alternate dimension. That space station falls back to the alternate Earth and kills the entire crew. However, one of the crew members Mina Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki) who is an Australian engineer lands up on this space station. Because of the rip in the space-time, many strange events also begin to occur. And back on Earth, in the original reality, the planet has become exposed to a dimension that brings in massive beasts.
About the Alternate Dimension
In this reality, there are few known differences:
- Ava’s kids are not dead because the accident has not yet occurred. Therefore, she is not part of the experiment in space. The Ava from this reality is back on Earth with her family.
- Mina is the engineer on the space station instead of Tam. Mina is a friend of Ava in this reality.
- A war has already broken out on this Earth and has been going on for 14 months. As a result, Schmidt from the alternate reality was a German spy who was out to sabotage the mission. Basically, he was there to ensure that the Shepard was never successfully online till Germany could neutralize Russia.
Tam locates a panel from where they hear a screaming voice. They open it to see that there is a woman who is trapped with wires going through her. This is Mina, and this is because she alone was somehow lodged out of her space station and ended up getting merged with this space station. They take her out and tend to her wounds.
Worms and Gyroscope
There is a bunch of worms in the space station that goes missing. There is also the station’s gyroscope that has gone missing, which has made it impossible for the team to locate where they are. Now, traveling into another reality has also displaced a few items. Unfortunately, all the worms and the gyroscope have been relocated inside of Volkov. Talk about terrible luck. Looks like worms inside of your system makes you go insane and use the 3D printer to print yourself a gun, which is precisely what Volkov does. Before he can do any severe threatening with the weapon, he dies after a seizure. Also, the worms come exploding out of his mouth.
Mina is conscious now. In the original reality, Mina was never part of the team, and so no one recognizes her. She explains how she was the engineer on her station instead of Tam and that Ava wasn’t part of the mission. She also says that she and Ava are friends. In secret, Mina tells Ava that Schmidt is not to be trusted. This is because in the alternate reality, the crew ended up finding out that Schmidt was a spy.
Schmidt – a German spy?
Because of the rip in the space-time continuum, the logs from the alternate reality have merged with this space station. When Kiel deciphers the messages, he finds out that Schmidt was ordered by German Intelligence to keep the Shepard offline. It leads to reasonable suspicion, and Kiel locks Schmidt up.
Mundy is closing up the panel where Mina appeared. This section of the ship seems to be a merge point between dimensions. And when realities merge, we can expect weird things to happen. Mundy’s arm gets sucked into the panel. When the crew pulls him free, they find that his arm is severed and is closed up like a deformity he was born with. No blood, no pain. Schmidt’s door unlocks on its own, and he comes out to see an arm prancing around be itself. Now, this arm could be the one that belongs to Mundy from another reality because it seems to have a mind of its own. They conclude that two distinct realities in a multiverse are fighting to occupy the same space, creating chaos. Though Schmidt’s logs can be seen, they are from an alternate universe. The arm indicates that it wants to write something. When they give it a pen, it writes – “cut Volkov open”.
Cutting Volkov Open
When they cut his body up, they locate the gyroscope in his abdomen and use it to figure their position. They realize that they have not just relocated relative to Earth, but they have also turned upside down. They soon locate Earth and tune frequencies to receive transmissions. They now understand that they are in an alternate universe, and this Earth has been having wars for 14 months. They see the news about the Cloverfield Space Station having crashed. The crew acknowledges that they have traveled to another dimension and have left their own Earth hanging.
On Earth, the dimension that Ava left, Michael is trying to get to the hospital and help. There are explosions everywhere, and he has no idea what’s going on. As he’s driving out, Michael learns that Earth has lost communications with the space station. He passes a building which has a young girl stranded, who Michael takes along with him. At this point, he sees the silhouette of a giant creature walking past. Michael heads to an underground shelter.
Based on a conversation about Quantum Entanglement, they conclude that firing the Shepard one more time will take them back to their own reality. On the station, Tam identifies that ventilating could get the Shepard to start correctly. She goes to an airlock for this. There is a malfunction, and it begins to get flooded with water. The crew is helpless, and the pressure of the falling water opens the door causing the water to freeze. Tam dies. With Tam gone, Mina offers to help fix the Shepard, but she wants all of Schmidt’s work in return (to save her own Earth). The plan is that once she prepares the Shepard, Mina will take an escape pod back to her Earth.
Mina and Ava
In a conversation, Ava finds out from Mina that her children are alive in this alternate Earth. She feels she also needs to go back with Mina so she can save this version of her family. Ava makes a deal with Kiel saying she too will take the pod back with Mina. Kiel tries to put some sense into Ava saying that the family down on the alternate Earth is not her’s. And that there is another Ava down there. She doesn’t listen, Kiel agrees.
Shut Down the O2
Mundy plans to cut the Oxygen pumps to get enough power for the Shepard to start. He fills up the maintenance room with O2 before shutting down the pump. Suddenly, there is a sizeable magnetic interference. Metal start getting pulled towards the wall. Communications get affected. The metallic adhesive, for some strange reason, becomes tentacle-like and attacks Mundy and kills him. Then a spark from a flying canister sets off an explosion causing the maintenance ring to dangle and endangers the structural integrity of the entire space station.
Decouple the Deck
The crew heads to decouple the ring. As they head out in their spacesuits, the filmmakers ignore the fact that there is no gravity in outer space. The crew crosses parts of the space station (exposed to space) with standard downward gravity. Kiel sacrifices himself to decouple the ring because it can be done only if he’s inside and the doors are closed. Kiel wouldn’t have died immediately, he would have traveled as far as he was hurled in the ring before starving to death.
Mina’s Alternate Plans
Mina doesn’t want the crew to get back with the Shepard. She intends to keep it in her own reality so it can save her Earth. She knocks Ava unconscious, kills Monk to get the firing keys, and goes to the deck and shoots Schmidt. Ava intercepts and tries to talk sense into Mina. But Mina has a point, her crew was wiped out by this one (even though by mistake). Now Mina feels that with only Schmidt’s work, there will be no capability for her Earth to rebuild the Shepard, hence she wants to hijack the Shepard. Ava breaks and makes a run for it. Mina shoots Schmidt again and goes after her. A fight ensues, and eventually, Ava fires at the panels which cause them to shatter throwing Mina into outer space. Ava patches Schmidt’s wounds.
Ending Explained: The Monster
Ava sends a message to the Ava of the alternate Earth down below. She transmits all of the Shepard data to her. They trigger the Shepard, and this takes them back to their original reality. The ground control comes online and reestablishes communications. The particle beam is now stable, and everyone celebrates. Ava and Schmidt get into a pod and prepare to make their way back. Ground Control calls Michael to give him the news that they have been able to make contact with Ava and that they are making their way back down. Michael is enraged knowing this and asks “you’re having her come back to these things?”. But Ground Control is helpless as they have lost contact. The pod enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and we are shown a giant beast that emerges and roars. No, the creature doesn’t eat the pod. The pod is far behind in the distance. The film ends.
How are the Cloverfield movies connected?
Let’s go back to Mark Stambler’s interview at the beginning of the film. He says that the experiment could unleash chaos the likes of which we have never seen – monsters, demons, and beasts from the sea. And not just here and now in the past, in the future, and in other dimensions. And so it does. In the three Cloverfield movies, we are shown four parallel universes.
- Cloverfield. The events in this film are happening in the year 2009 when the monster appears. This is one universe.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane. The events of this film are happening in the year 2016 when a race of aliens is attacking the Earth. This is a second universe. This world did not face the monster in 2009.
- Cloverfield Paradox. The events of this film are happening in 2028. There are two universes shown in this film. One which is being attacked by giant monsters (this is the third universe) …
- … and the other one which has been at war for 14 months, but no monsters or aliens yet (this is the fourth universe)
It appears that the firing of the Shepard in Universe-3 has created events in Universe-1, 2 and maybe even 4. It also seems that the effect spans across time into the past as well. So that’s the primary link that connects the three Cloverfield films. There are many smaller Easter eggs in the movie too. A few essential observations, however, would be:
Mark Stambler from Cloverfield Paradox and Howard Stambler from 10 Cloverfield Lane share the same surname. They could be related. Both characters are also shown to anticipate and prepare for doomsday.
The lady with her skin peeling in 10 Cloverfield Lane, is the same lady who is on the news channel interviewing Mark Stambler in Cloverfield Paradox. Which means that in one universe she is dead in the year 2016, in the other world she’s an anchor in 2028.
The first Cloverfield movie ends with a shot of something plunging into the waters. The end of Cloverfield Paradox shows the pod to land in waters. While it is easy to connect these two dots, they are not the same event. In the Cloverfield movie, it is 2009 as the item splashes into the water. The planet has not yet been attacked by the monster. In Cloverfield Paradox, pod descends in 2030, the Earth is being ravaged by many beasts.
All of these elements point to one simple thing. Each of the movies happens in different realities. But it appears that the multiple dimensions were affected by the one event in the film Cloverfield Paradox – firing up the Particle Accelerator.
Here’s an explanation to 10 Cloverfield Lane:
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
Click to browse all his film articles