The Cloverfield Paradox is a 2018 American science fiction horror film directed by Julius Onah, written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung, and produced by J. J. Abrams's Bad Robot Productions. It is the third installment in the Cloverfield franchise, following Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016). The film stars Daniel Brühl, Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Hennie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris O'Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo, and Zhang Ziyi, and follows an international group of astronauts aboard a space station who, after using a particle accelerator to try to solve Earth's energy crisis, must find a way home after accidentally traveling to an alternate dimension.
The film was based on God Particle, a spec script from Oren Uziel which had the main plot of the space station crew but unconnected to Cloverfield. The script was acquired by Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot in 2012. It had been initially planned as part of Paramount's low-budget InSurge distribution label, but following the folding of that label, its production was expanded as a Paramount-distributed film. Only during production did Abrams decide to link the film to Cloverfield, adapting Uziel's screenplay and adding scenes to establish this connection, following the same approach used by 10 Cloverfield Lane from its original script, The Cellar. Abrams saw the ability to use the particle accelerator accident as a means for future events to cause changes in the past, establishing a way to narratively link the Cloverfield franchise together.
Once announced as a yet-named Cloverfield film in late 2016, the film's release was delayed several times. A surprise trailer for the film aired during Super Bowl LII on February 4, 2018, providing the final name of the film and its release on Netflix occurring immediately after the game. Though specific details of Netflix's acquisition of distribution rights were not known, industry analysts believe Netflix's involvement helped to make an otherwise lackluster film profitable for Paramount, whereas a more traditional theatrical release would have ended in a loss.
Despite the unique marketing tactics being praised, the film itself received generally negative reviews from critics, who criticized the messy narrative, writing and editing, with many considering it the weakest of the Cloverfield films, although Mbatha-Raw's performance did receive some praise.
In the year 2028, Earth is suffering from a global energy crisis. The space agencies of the world prepare to test the Shepard particle accelerator aboard the orbiting Cloverfield Station, which would provide Earth with infinite energy, while conspiracy theorists fear it will create the "Cloverfield Paradox", opening portals to allow horrors from parallel universes to threaten Earth. Among the crew is Ava Hamilton, who frets about leaving her husband Michael, a doctor, potentially for years, as their relationship struggles since the loss of their children to a house fire.
After about two years of unsuccessful testing of the Shepard, they eventually achieve a seemingly stable beam, but it then overloads and creates a power surge on the station. After restoring basic power, they find Earth has vanished from view, and the gyroscope that aids in the station's navigation is missing. As the crew work on repairs, strange events begin to occur, including finding an unfamiliar woman called Jensen fused with wires inside a wall. Volkov fears something crawling beneath his skin and is compelled to craft a gun using an on-board 3D printer. He uses the gun to threaten the crew, but as he does he convulses and dies, and the station's colony of worms bursts out of him. Mundy's arm gets pulled into a solid wall, and then severed clean off; they find the arm roaming of its own volition. When they recognize that it is trying to write something, it instructs them to "cut Volkov open." Once they do they find the missing gyroscope. They quickly locate Earth and restore their communications, but transmissions state that Cloverfield Station was destroyed and fell to Earth two days prior.
Jensen is found to be a crew member of the space station but from a different universe. In this universe, Hamilton's children did not die, she stayed on Earth as a civilian engineer, and Jensen replaced Tam as the station's engineer. They plan to reactivate the Shepard device to return to their own universe. While the crew repairs the station, Tam works out a means to make Shepard work properly, but she is killed in a freak accident. Meanwhile, Hamilton decides to return with Jensen to Earth to be with her kids. As they prepare, Mundy is killed in an explosion caused by a strange magnetic field. After the explosion, the station's commander, Kiel, sacrifices himself to disengage a wildly-spinning accelerator ring that was jeopardizing the whole station, leaving Hamilton in charge.
On Earth, Michael wakes up to discover a wave of destruction ravaging the planet, witnessing the silhouette of a giant monster in the distance. On his way to offer his assistance at the local hospital, he stops to help a young girl named Molly. After learning that the hospital has been destroyed, he takes her to an underground shelter belonging to a friend and tends to her wounds.
With Shepard ready to activate again, Hamilton prepares to leave with Jensen, but Jensen suddenly knocks her out. Jensen kills Monk with Volkov's gun, wounds Schmidt, and insists that the station must stay in her universe, to keep the Shepard device there. Regaining consciousness, Hamilton uses the gun to shoot out a window, ejecting Jensen into space. Hamilton decides to return to their universe with Schimdt and makes a recording for her alternate universe self, giving her the plans for the Shepard device and stressing the importance of her family. Hamilton and Schmidt reverse the universe shift and use Tam's modifications to finally make Shepard work. After reporting in, the two eject themselves in an evacuation capsule towards Earth.
Michael learns from mission control of the station's reappearance and his wife's return to Earth, but he lambastes mission control for not warning Hamilton not to return to Earth, in light of the ongoing situation. As the capsule re-enters the Earth's atmosphere, a giant monster comes up roaring through the clouds.