I don’t do horror movies.
I don’t do loud clangs, shrieks, or shadows that jump across the screen. I especially don’t do creepy sci-fi films. Movies that mess with time, reality, or my basic understanding of physics (which is very, very basic) rarely make it to my queue. In all seriousness, George of the Jungle is one of my all-time favorite movies if that says anything about my standards.
So it probably isn’t a shock I’ve not seen the previous Cloverfield films or a single episode of Lost. And yet here I am, contributing today regarding The Cloverfield Paradox, the Netflix release of J.J. Abrams’s newest Cloverfield installment.
Yeah, I don’t know how I got here either. But since I did, let’s roll with it. I’ll keep it spoiler free too…if anything because I’m not exactly sure what I witnessed.
Despite my nonchalant “sure I’ll give it a go” attitude, I was hooked 6 minutes in. With the world on the verge of self-destruction, tensions high across nations due to dwindling energy resources, Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a-mazing) accepts a position on an international mission to do something I can only describe as “mine” energy from space. And it’s a truly international crew, so props to Abrams for bringing together the cast of David Oyelowo (Kiel), Daniel Brühl (Schmidt), Ziyi Zhang (Tam), John Ortiz (Monk), Chris O’Dowd (Mundy), Aksel Hennie (Volkov), Elizabeth Debicki (Jensen), and Roger Davies as Michael. The cast makes this movie.
Of course, things go horribly wrong once they finally harness the needed energy after two years of unsuccessful attempts. Cue lots of banging, fires, and the beginning of creepy things. I admit there might have been a scene or two where I had to close my eyes – the sounds were enough and one scene in particular involved worms. Just… ew. No.
Once the initial “avert my eyes,” scenes cycled, I was sucked right back in. How does Jensen know Hamilton? What is Mundy’s arm up to? Where did the Earth go? Like I mentioned in the beginning, I tend to steer clear of movies that propose alternate realties and concepts such as there is a second Earth, with a second crew, trying to solve for the same problem but within a very different reality. But I was so wrapped up in Hamilton and the crew, I found myself actually engaged.
Now I have seen enough non-jittery science fiction to confidently say that there are plenty of “standard sci-fi movie moments,” like fires, crashes, doors getting stuck, people dying, and “are we losing our minds or is this really happening” conversations. And if you’re an Abrams fan, you’ll also notice his trademark homages to earlier science fiction films, (such as the original Alien movies), his continued exploration of inter-dimensional interactions, and the overall “is this real or not” feeling. So if that combination works for you, I don’t think you’ll be wasting your time if you check it out and move on.
But personally, I kind of sat in an awed state at the conclusion. Not so much because the movie itself was anything spectacular (again, I think the most compelling aspect of it all was the cast), but because I began to consider how my individual actions can affect others.
I’m not versed enough in science to propose any thoughts on the possibility of alternate realities or if my every-day decisions change the fate of another me somewhere across the cosmos. I’m not going that deep here. But I do believe that humanity is designed to crave interaction and relationship, which gives me pause and forces me to think beyond my personal interests and instead about how what I do, what I say, how I act, etc., can impact someone else.
More than likely my actions will never alter the fate of the entire human race. Yet every day I am presented with opportunities to influence the course of any one person’s journey. Not because I have control or am powerful or that persuasive, but because I am a representative of Jesus Christ. How I respond in times of crisis, how I rejoice in times of excitement…even how I greet each person who travels across my path…at any moment what I say or do can be used for help or for harm.
In the book of Matthew, chapter 22, verses 36-40, Jesus is answering the question of “what is the greatest commandment?” To paraphrase, Jesus responds with “love God with everything you have and everything you are, and love others as you love yourself.” For me this means each action I take and each word I speak needs to ladder back up as either loving God or loving others. Even if I don’t “love” the person on the other end of my action, or even know them, I still love God. And my behavior toward that other person is reflective of that love of God.
I’m not saying I have to sit and analyze every detail of my actions and how they might one day a long time from now have a negative impact on some stranger’s life. That’d be practically impossible. But I am saying that as a Christian, it’s important that I choose my words and actions carefully.