What to expect from God Particle – the third Cloverfield film
Cloverfield fans are nothing if not patient. After Cloverfield, its loyal fans were kept waiting for 8 years without even the slightest hint a sequel (so long that some gave up on the chance of ever seeing one).
Then 10 Cloverfield Lane came along – a wonderfully adept and inventive sequel – and our hearts overflowed with Slusho once more.
Now, a similar limbo has come into play. Fans are left waiting for the third instalment in what we now know is an anthology franchise – God Particle – watching with angst as the sequel has been pushed back not once, but twice, since it was announced.
While you sit idle, waiting for God Particle, I highlight what you can expect from this tantalising sequel, based on everything that we know so far (including insight from those who have read the script).
The below contains some spoilers for the God Particle script.
What’s it about?
At the time of writing, the plot details for God Particle are thin and – as is typical of this franchise – shrouded in mystery (though not as much as you might think – see the podcast section below). All that’s been officially confirmed so far is the synopsis below:
After a scientific experiment aboard the space station involving a particle accelerator has unexpected results, the astronauts find themselves isolated. Following a horrible discovery the space station crew must fight for survival.
Another synopsis reads:
In the near future a team of astronauts on a space station make a terrifying discovery that challenges all they know about reality, as they desperately fight for their survival.
Writer Oren Uziel has stated that he is more concerned with characters and their relationships than with the obstacle in their path. He has stressed that he would be far more interested in what the astronauts are going through, what they’re experiencing and what the character story is.
That should give you some idea of what to expect from Uziel’s script. It sounds like it will be similar to 10 Cloverfield Lane in the sense that it will be character-focused first and foremost, with the alien threat lingering in the background.
How will it fit into the universe?
The film will stick to the same anthology format that 10 Cloverfield Lane began when it deviated from the original film’s narrative. JJ Abrams has often stressed that these films will only be similar in theme and tone, and in having a shared universe, not interconnecting stories (though – rightly – many remain sceptical about this, thinking it might be a ruse on his part).
Just like that second instalment, God Particle is a film that was already written and then moulded to fit the “Cloververse”, rather than being written as a Cloververse film. Uziel has said:
It was written before 10 Cloverfield Lane and the expanded Cloverfield universe even existed as a thing. It was a spec that I wrote probably a year or so after Shimmer Lake, so it definitely existed as its own science-fiction… I don’t know exactly when it became a Cloverfield movie… everyone just knew if it fits—and it does—into that Cloverfield world, it should, and it can only help.
10 Cloverfield Lane began as a completely different film titled Valencia. That was both the original title and also a handy sleight of hand working title, after JJ Abrams and Bad Robot decided to morph the film into a Cloverfield instalment.
Similarly, Oren Uziel had already written God Particle. His film has since been changed (though he stresses – not by much) to fit this world. Precisely how the film will slot into the Cloververse is anyone’s guess at this stage, but given that it’s set in space, a safe bet would be that we will get to see more of the alien species seen in the first two films (assuming they are linked).
Who is Oren Uziel?
A 42-year-old ex-lawyer, Oren Uziel is the primary writer of the God Particle script. He also co-wrote the script for 22 Jump Street. He’s viewed as something of a hot property in Hollywood at the moment, with no less than 10 titles in development right now.
He was hired to write Men in Black 4 at one point, but is no longer involved. Uziel also wrote and directed his own feature film (from the first script he ever wrote) for Netflix, which came out this year – Shimmer Lake – which gives fans a great opportunity to get a sense of his creative output.
Is Shimmer Lake any good?
Unfortunately, it’s only OK. It’s a heist film told in reverse – it regresses one day at a time, beginning at the end of week and finishing on a Tuesday, which is the chronological start of the narrative (and the day of the heist itself).
The dialogue feels like it tries a little too hard at times, the acting is a little shaky here and there, and nothing about the characters or story stands out (except for a mild twist), but it does prove that Uziel can write a unique script.
It should also be remembered that while he wrote and directed this, he won’t be directing God Particle – that will be Julius Onah – nor is Oziel the sole writer (Doug Jung has co-writing duties).
There are a few wonderful casting choices in Shimmer Lake, such as Wyatt Russell, who was the lead in Dan Trachtenberg’s Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’. Dan Trachtenberg is, of course, the director of 10 Cloverfield Lane, making Russell’s inclusion here a probably accidental but nonetheless endearing link between the two directors.
Who is Doug Jung?
Even though Uziel dreamed up and wrote the spec, he isn’t the only writer on God Particle. Doug Jung is also credited as a co-writer on the script. Just how much of an input he had is unclear, but his past credits include Star Trek: Beyond (a generally liked, if not loved film) and also two episodes of Banshee – one of the best television shows ever made, in my book.
That gives me a lot of confidence in Jung’s inclusion here. Far more confidence than I have in Uziel. So whether Jung only tweaked the script, or whether he wrote huge chunks of it, his input will no doubt be of value to the final film. He might even have been the one to write in the alien content.
Who is Julius Onah?
Julis Onah will be directing God Particle, which is no small feat at all, given who’s gone before him. Dan Trachtenberg’s status has grown immensely since he directed 10 Cloverfield Lane. Before him was Matt Reeves, who has similarly gone on to great things, and producer JJ Abrams, who is feels closer to a deity these days than a filmmaker.
It’s pertinent to ask whether Onah can hold his own on this mantle then. Onah has 11 short films under his belt and only one feature film to date. This is The Girl is in Trouble. So while he might have years of experience, he’s still a relative newbie when it comes to directing feature films.
This is fine – Trachtenberg was too when he took on 10 Cloverfield Lane – and if JJ believes in Onah then really, we should too. It’s still prudent to check out Onah’s feature film, however, to get a sense of his skill and his directorial inclinations. Although very different genres, the feel of the film will no doubt echo what’s to come in God Particle.
Is The Girl is in Trouble any good?
Thankfully, this is actually a really good film. Personally, I massively preferred it to Shimmer Lake, which means that my hope for God Particle lies far more in Onah’s hands than in Oziel’s.
It follows a girl who films a murder and escapes the murderer. The narrative then ducks and dives around a host of characters who are all interconnected due to this one girl and what she witnessed. The script is really honest and captivating, and Onah’s directing ability shines. The acting within is also surprisingly good for a small budget film.
This can only mean good things for Onah’s helming of God Particle. From The Girl is in Trouble, I can see that he’s a very capable director and that God Particle is in good hands.
Who’s in God Particle?
The film has its cast locked in tight, which is nice to see. It will star Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Brül and more. Undoubtedly the biggest name there is Brül, who is always a solid actor. Although the last Cloverfield film held much bigger names, I think a cast of relative unknowns is actually a good thing.
It removes any preconceptions that the audience might have about who’s in it and it gives some breakthrough talent a chance to shine. It’s worth remembering too: when the first Cloverfield was made, actresses like Lizzy Caplan and Jessica Lucas were pretty much unknowns, but they have since gone on to much bigger things (Masters of Sex, Gotham and more).
Insight from those who have read the script
Surprisingly (given the secrecy of this franchise), in Episode 70 of the podcast Off-Screen (O.S.), the hosts talk about what happens in God Particle, after having read the entire script (before it was adapted to fit the Cloververse).
Take this with a pinch of salt perhaps, because it seems baffling that Bad Robot would allow the script to be discussed this openly, but the podcast does seem genuine.
If you’re keen to avoid spoilers, skip this section and continue reading after the image. Here’s what they say happens in the story (spoilers ahead):
A team of American scientists and engineers living aboard a spaceship called the Dandelion construct a giant particle accelerator which they hope will unite all of physics into a single theory of everything.
But when it comes time to test the machine, a blinding flash of light gives way to reveal an empty void where the Earth used to be. They’ve just destroyed mankind and now are stranded alone in space, or so they think.
Months later and still struggling to cope with what they’ve done, the crew of the Dandelion spots a European ship calling for help. They allow the starving crew members aboard, but soon find themselves surrounded by armed gunsmen.
Turns out the Europeans are after the accelerator, which they hope to use as a weapon in the escalating arms race back on Earth (that’s right – it hasn’t been destroyed). When testing the accelerator, the Dandelion simply warped to the opposite side of the sun. Earth wasn’t missing, it was just hidden.
In response to this revelation, one of the Dandelion’s crew members named Martinez quickly dismantles the accelerator before the Europeans can catch up with him. He sacrifices himself in the process, drifting helplessly into space along with the rest of the ruined machine.
Meanwhile, Hamilton and Munk – the last two of the Americans – highjack the European’s ship, forcing one of them at gunpoint to pilot them back to Earth. Crisis averted, for now.
The hosts stress that this is a simplified version of what happens, but is “the gist of it”. They also mention:
- the version they read has no aliens in it at all
- there is a whodunnit to the plot (this, combined with the particle core, makes me think of the comic book Southern Cross a lot)
- the script has a water-rising/gravity-free scene akin to Passengers‘ water scene (but this was probably written before Passengers was written)
- the script holds “way too many characters”
- there is some scientific exposition that doesn’t fully work
- the second act is a little messy and too condensed
- there are some cheesy moments
- the dialogue on the whole is very clunky and on-the-nose
They also stress that they don’t know when the script was written, meaning it could have been written by Uziel years ago (been a very early draft).
Was it really pushed back due to Stranger Things?
This isn’t confirmed, but it certainly seems so. First the film was slated for 24 February 2017, but it was then pushed back to 27 October 2017. Then the film was pushed back a second time, along with a few other major releases that were scheduled for October.
The new and current release date for God Particle is 2 February 2018 – almost one year after than the original, intended date. This sudden surge away from October could easily be construed as an effort to get away from the Stranger Things Season 2 release date.
Stranger Things is a true titan of a show at the moment, with millions certain to binge the new season, once it hits. This means more people staying at home for their Science Fiction monster fix, not venturing out to the cinema.
It’s only speculation, but it could very well be the reason for the second shift in the release date. The Christmas period doesn’t seem like a suitable fit for a film like this, so it seems logical that they would revert to a February release once more.
When is it released?
For now, that 2 February 2018 release date is what the studios involved are going with, but with two reshuffles already, it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a third setback. All that really matters is that it gets made and that this franchise continues to thrive (hopefully beyond the third film too).
Overall, the more I’ve delved into the details about this film, the more my expectations have been tempered and lowered. However, this is still Cloverfield and we still don’t know what alien content has been added, so there’s a lot of room for improvement before we see the final film.
What do you think about all of the information provided above? Has any of it clouded your expectations for this third film? Or are you still as excited as you were in 2008 – when we were all pondering what the very first monster was going to look like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image credits: Bad Robot, BTL Communcations LLC