Cloverfield “franchise” destroys a great original theme

Cloverfield “franchise” destroys a great original theme
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Cloverfield “franchise” destroys a great original theme

Some one should explain to J.J. Abrams that it isn’t enough to just put a word in a movie title to create a franchise that will excite the public. I loved the 2008 movie “Cloverfield.” But the two films int he so-called “Cloverfield franchise” don’t even come close to being anything like the first movie.

ByRay Hanania

Just because the name J.J. Abrams and his company Bad Robot are associated with a new movie doesn’t mean it’s going to be good.

This applies to the so-called “Cloverfield franchise” which honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can string together the three “Cloverfield” movies and assert they are linked. They are not.

Cloverfield” was a dramatic horror and Science Fiction film released in 2008 using the technique where a film actor appears to be self-filming the surrounding events. It was kind of like “reality movie” ripping off “reality TV.”

English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala

English: J.J. Abrams at Time 100 Gala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The movie was great and I re-watch it often. Basically, a huge monster pops up in New York City and starts reeking havoc, destroying buildings and eating people. And it “mothers” a brud of mini-monsters that look like teeth with feet and arms that go around biting and eating everything they can as Mommie storms through the city destroying everything. Worse, is that when one of these little mini-me monsters bites you, you get a fast acting infection that makes you explode.



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It ends with a video tape-recording left in a park, Cloverfield, where the guy who was last eaten by the monster left it in his blood and guts. It’s found by the U.S. Military during the aftermath.

The fate of the monster is left unanswered so there was clearly a feeling that it would come back even worse.

The movie had a $25 million budget and produced $175 million in revenue. Not bad. But it doesn’t have any big actors. All new and young, they include Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel and Odette Yustman. The dialogue is good but not great. But the monster action outweighs anything the script lacks.

Then, in 2016, J.J. Abrams released “10 Cloverfield Lane” which for some reason, just because the name includes the word “Cloverfield,” it is somehow supposed to be tied to the first film. It’s not. A woman gets in an accident and suddenly wakes up in a bomb shelter with a crazy man, played by well known actor John Goodman.

Supposedly there is a “spiritual” connection to the first Cloverfield film. I don’t care what J.J. Abrams claims, it’s just not there. It’s so boring. Is she really in a bomb shelter int he wake of the original Cloverfield drama, or is she in the hands of a psychopath who picked her up in the accident? Who knows and who cares?

Abrams throws in a cheap shot of an alien spaceship in the distance as the woman escapes. Yet, during the captivity, there isn’t any dialogue about what happened in New York, monsters or anything. Just the fear that something is out there and the captured woman has to stay inside the bomb shelter with Goodman.


Movie poster from the 2008 film Cloverfield. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Movie poster from the 2008 film Cloverfield. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Now comes the Netflix “exclusive” promoted in a $5 million 30 second ad during the Super Bowl. It’s supposedly the 3rd in the “Cloverfield Franchise.” It’s called “The Cloverfield Paradox.” It definitely is a paradox, for sure. The 2018 film is only viewable on Netflix. OK. They have had some good options. I am still weighing whether or not the $11 I am paying each month for the “standard Plan” is worth keeping.

The jury is still out. There have been a few good original films and shows to watch, especially the Pablo Escobar series and the sequel “After Pablo Escobar,” a 40 part Series in Spanish with English subtitles that I am still plowing through. It’s interesting, true and has some sex in it.

Again, all that connects the J.J. Abrams films are the name “Cloverfield.” If Abrams loved the word so much why didn’t he just name his company “Cloverfield” instead of “Bad Robot,” which I like, by the way.

This 3rd film, The Cloverfield Paradox, isn’t too bad, but it’s just not that great either. Science Fiction and horror mixed in together with astronauts who are working on an experimental particle accelerator that supposedly will help mankind deal with its energy shortage. But it creates a two-dimension split — kind of like the Starz Cable TV series “Counterpart” which is phenomenal and I will review shortly — and the characters get mixed up and find themselves battling to save”their worlds.”

Not once through the film do you see a monster. Even a peep of the original monster that knocked the head off of the Statue of Liberty in the first film, sending it rolling down a street to land in front of the actors’ apartment building front door.

That was cool, considering it was only seven years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack that took down the World Trade Centers Twin Towers. It took real courage to get past that psychological hurdle.

The plot is predictable with the usual cheap “right turn” twists and turns — whatI mean is they are obvious. The acting isn’t bad. I recognize some of the actors including Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, and Zhang Ziyi.

It isn’t until you have been completely scammed into exclusive Netflix, Super Bowl movie apprehension that you realize you have been scammed. The film ends with a cheap shot appearance of the original Cloverfield monster rising int he horizon.

Hey, it was good to see you, gi-normous Mommie monster. We miss you. No I mean it. We really miss you. But apparently J.J. Abrams is thinking someplace else instead of giving the world what it really wants.

The next”Clovefield” film had better have the monster return with its jaw-snapping, giant incisor teeth spreading instant death or you can forget it, Netflix! Yes, I blame you Netflix for raising prices without giving me anything really good, and promising a stupid movie sequel that isn’t bad but doesn’t even come close to the Super Bowl ad expectations you created.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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