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Cloverfield (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

While these 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray releases of Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane as well as another film in this mysterious franchise should be a good ten year celebration of the original, its main talking point has been this odd turn to this possible Netflix release of the next on from Paramount. Ten years ago, mysterious built during the summer of 2007 with the strange and unheard of trailer attached to Michael Bay’s Transformers were finally answered and possibly the biggest and most apt and (quality-wise) success story of the JJ Abrams mystery box was opened. Cloverfield was a bigger January release than normal and became a film-internet hybrid and phenomenon following in the footsteps of The Blair Witch Project as well as another JJ Abrams project, LOST. You’ll be able to relive the original on the glorious 4K Ultra-HD format now, as it its available for order at the bottom of this review.

Film 

As a group of New Yorkers enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.

Ten years ago, Cloverfield was my “Birthday Movie” aka a movie that came out the weekend of my birthday. And to this day its possibly been the best, but easily my favorite of such movies. In fact, I saw it twice that weekend, two days in a row. 24 hours hadn’t even passed yet. I had a blast with the concept I hadn’t seen utilized since The Blair Witch Project almost ten years prior. I would eventually see it one more time, but I bought into all the internet fun, Rob’s Party Mix and everything that came with the film. I watched “Special Investigation Mode: on the Blu-ray (I worked on it, so that made it a little easier). JJ Abrams had me eating up everything from his Mystery Box.

What made the opening night for the film so much fun, is that we had no idea what this movie was other than we wanted to see it because we wanted to know what this movie was. The concept was awesome, a Godzilla movie from the perspective of the people at ground level of the attack. To boot, they made it REALLY from the perspective as we are watching footage from the camera.  In the theater, it really did give me the feeling at times that…maybe I wasn’t there, but I was on some sort of really awesome theme park ride. I understand there were issue with some people and motion sickness, which is unfortunate.

Cloverfield not only was interesting with the hook, but it also delivered many fun and memorable action sequences  or moments to add to thrills. The smashing of the bridge, the scram to the subway, going from building to building to save Beth…all awesome. My personal favorite of the bunch was the dark walk through the subway tunnel where they get ambushed by some critters when the night vision comes on. Still to this day that one really makes me jump and gets me uneasy. Its just really horrifying and has a lot of crazy pandemonium and the sound design makes you feel a part of it.

He had directed before this (The David Schwimmer classic The Pallbearer and a good chunk of TV), but this was really the launching point for director Matt Reeves. From here he’d admirably remake a beloved Swedish horror movie and make some of the greatest Planet of the Apes movies we’ll ever see. With this, he’s made arguably one of the greatest and most important found footage movies of all time. And its enough just to thank the man for making 2 fantastic entries in one of my all time favorite film series, but I need to remember that its starts with Cloverfield, a complete thrill ride that I’ve always loved and still do today.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p) Dolby Vision & HDR-10

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Cloverfield first seemed an odd choice to bring to 4K Ultra-HD as its a found footage movie, meant to look like its done with a home camera circa 2008 and doesn’t have stable cinematography with its design trying to keep it looking homemade. However, I was quickly surprised at what a nice little uptick this one received. In terms of sharpness, texture and detail, it has a nice little upgrade. In the realm of colors and blacks is where you’re going to see the bigger difference.

Depth: The film features some solid dimensions, though has a lot of superdark and shaky sequences, but everything looks spacious and free. Movements look as good as they can without the intentional blurs and jitters that come with the style.

Black Levels: Blacks come on very natural and richen this image to great degrees. You’ll notice right away from Rob’s first shots at Beth’s dad’s place overlooking the dark early morning of the city. Details come through better and colors are able to pop a little more. All of the environments give off a bit of a newer feel with how the lighting is portrayed in this new image.

Color Reproduction: The saturation of color here is one of the best improvements here. City lights, car lights, explosions, neon signs and many other things are just much more striking. Stuff like the yellow of subway car or rustic brown colored leather on a couch even look stronger.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones is another area that strengthens as they come on much more full and bold looking. There is a lot less washed out look to them. Facial details are a hair better, but ultimately could be seen as a bit of negligent improvement.

Noise/Artifacts: Other than things intended by the aesthetic, this one is clean.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French (Canada) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Parisian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin America) 51. Dolby Digital, Portuguese (Brazil) 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French (Canada), French (Parisian), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Brazil), German, Japanese, Nederlands, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: Bummer folks, not fresh new Atmos track, but hey, we all remember how awesome that 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track was back in 2008, right? Its still awesome here. It rumbles, tumbles, and will attack you from any direction. That subway tunnel sequence STILL gets me on edge and jumpy. You’re just fine here, and if you’ve not experienced it before, no need to turn your nose up.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Monster stomping, explosions, camera bumping, doors slamming, guns firing, Lizzy Caplan bursting, party bass and everything you’d want bumping get a nice jolt from your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: The film has you well covered here form all directions. It plays well with all 5 channels and tracks movements and action with great precision.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear unless distorted by actions in the film (Which would be by design).

Extras 

Cloverfield comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. Special features are found on the Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary

  • By Director Matt Reeves

Special Investigation Mode

Document 01.18.08: The Making Of Cloverfield (HD, 28:22)

Cloverfield Visual Effects (HD, 22:32)

I Saw It! It’s Alive! It’s Huge! (HD, 5:53)

Clover Fun (HD, 3:56)

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary By Director Matt Reeves (HD, 3:25)

Alternate Endings with Optional Commentary By Director Matt Reeves (HD, 4:29)

Summary 

Cloverfield is still a film that thrills me and is one of the very best found footage films ever made and holds up very well ten years later.  Your real question here is whether your’e in desperate need of the 4K Ultra-HD upgrade. Had there been a fancy new Atmos track added to it (That’s not to say the original 5.1 isn’t awesome, because it is), I’d say yes. The image does looked like a really good improvement to my eyes when I compared them (But, those are MY eyes, you may disagree) and you get all the bonus you had before. I’d say, if you’re a big fan and you want it at its absolute best, grab this one during a really good sale.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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