Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cloverfield 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The 2008 monster flick Cloverfield, is now available on 4K. The film was directed by Matt Reeves (Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes), written by Drew Goddard (TVs "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel," World War Z, The Martian) and produced by J.J. Abrams. This is the first film in the Cloverfield Franchise which is followed by 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox which recently had a surprise trailer reveal during the Superbowl and was released on Netflix the same day.
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Rob (Michael Stahl-David) has taken a job in Japan. His friends have gathered for a surprise going away party. Rob’s brother Jason (Mike Vogel) and Jason’s girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas) have brought together all of Rob’s friends. Hud (T.J. Miller) has been tasked with recording farewell messages from the guests. In attendance is also close friend Beth (Odette Yustman), who Rob hooked up with and never called. Rob is irritated that she brought a date and Beth angrily leaves the party. Shortly after, the lights go out and strange sounds are heard. The party guests head to the roof to see what happened but they find themselves running for cover as fireballs head towards their building. 

Hud keeps rolling as chaos ensues. The small group that makes it to the ground floor sees terror and destruction. The film is made up of “found footage” from Hud’s camera that was said to be recovered by the Dept. of Defense in the area formerly known as Central Park. The citizens of New York City attempt to flee while the military chases down the attacking creatures. Rob is focused on finding Beth, whose last voicemail message indicated she was trapped. 

I liked Cloverfield, a lot in the theater and enjoyed T.J. Miller immensely for his little comments as he records the destruction of New York City. I love creature features and wish I could continue to enjoy the film but I have apparently gotten too old for it. The hand held shaky cam used throughout the movie gives me motion sickness to the point that I had to just listen with my eyes closed. Just when I was feeling like a sad old lady, I googled it and found that AMC theatres put up a warning sign stating: 

"Due to the filming method used for Cloverfield, guests viewing this film may experience side effects associated with motion sickness similar to riding a roller coaster."

I guess I’m not the only one that couldn’t handle the action. Roger Ebert called it “la shakily queasy cam” and migraine sufferers cited Cloverfield as a trigger. Aside from being vomit inducing, Cloverfield has a lot of good points. The acting is believable. The creatures are realistic and the tension is palpable. I remember all of that from when I could watch the film without getting sick. Maybe one day they will release a steady cam version for viewers over 40.  
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 
A film like Cloverfield is hard to give a score to. The found footage is meant to be from a home movie camera. Therefore, its shaky, distorted and intentionally low end. A clean sharp picture would be a disservice to the film. In 4K you’ll be able to see more texture in the walls and feel immersed in dust as the buildings crumble. The enhanced colors and creature detail are where the 4K shines. Not being able to watch the film all the way through anymore I did go back and watch the creature sightings to see if they revealed more, or even too much detail. Luckily, they got it right. The black levels are deeper and the fireballs glow with an orange you don’t appreciate on Blu-ray. 
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 
Unfortunately, Cloverfield’s 4K release does not come with an upgraded audio experience. The 5.1 track is great but it is the same as you’ll find on Blu-ray. You do hear the monsters roar and feel the concrete crumble. You’ll find directionality as the National Guard fires upon the creature. Dialogue is well balanced. I wouldn’t complain at all if I wasn’t left wanting more from my 4K disc. The UHD release does offer additional language/subtitle options. 
Extras (3 out of 5 stars) 
The 4K UHD release adds no new features. The following are found on the Blu-ray disc. 
  • Audio Commentary – Feature length Audio Commentary by Director Matt Reeves. 
  • Special Investigation Mode – A viewing mode with the movie playing as the picture in a picture while the main screen area is devoted to a map of the action. 
  • Document 01.18.08: The Making of Cloverfield – Featurette including interviews with J.J. Abrams, Matt Reeves and producer Brian Burk as well as members of the cast. It’s a standard making of featurette and I found more interesting information from the Director’s commentary. 
  • Cloverfield Visual Effects – More making of information, focused on the special effects. 
  • I Saw It! It’s Alive! It’s Huge! – A look at creature origins and design. 
  • Clover Fun – Just under four minutes of outtakes. 
  • Deleted Scenes – Four deleted scenes with optional director commentary. 
  • Alternate Endings – two alternate endings with optional director commentary. 
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Cloverfield is a great creature flick for those that can handle the shaky-cam. I enjoyed it enough that I will probably watch it in sections in the future. I can take about a quarter of the film at a time so I’ll just have to watch it a little each day for four days. The improvements from Blu-ray to 4K are small and are limited to the visual. If you can appreciate a small uptick in a UHD release then this is the monster movie for you. The Blu-ray is certainly satisfactory on its own. Recommended (for strong stomachs).
Order your copy today!

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