This is how you do a good sequel
Reminiscent of the days when sequels were not just mere re-treads of the original’s plot supplanted by bigger budgets, 10 Cloverfield Lane offers a different slant.It appears that these days more prominent Hollywood blockbusters are susceptible to repeat workings second, third, and fourth time out, but it wasn’t always that way; even the first couple of Die Hard sequels reworked disparate novels (and in the latter instance, a proposed Lethal Weapon sequel script) to make for more than just bigger scale facsimiles, and Cameron’s Aliens and Terminator 2 are amidst the best examples of superior sequels (or at the very least imaginatively different equals). However these days it’s only the more low key sequel outings that appear to develop their ideas in a different direction, with films like the undercooked home invasion horror The Purge being arguably far surpassed by its sequel; The Purge – Anarchy offering a different, superior tale within the same universe. 10 Cloverfield Lane takes the same approach, adopting and adapting a simple story of a group of supposed ‘survivors’ hiding underground with an overzealous survivalist who may be more their captor than their saviour. It was a story in its own right, before being inserted into the Cloverfield universe, but that works to its benefit.Indeed 10 Cloverfield Lane plays out as an exercise in increasing, sometimes unbearable tension; a claustrophobic study of paranoia – or survival instinct – in the face of an unseen threat which may or may not be real. You question John Goodman’s survivalist intentions throughout, going back and forth and repeatedly reassessing your feelings towards his controlling demeanour, and wonder whether Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s protagonist is a victim or just merely hysterical. The fusion between 10 Cloverfield Lane’s original, Misery-esque premise and its Cloverfield-related themes of monster invasion could have been a clumsy, clunky one, but is handled surprisingly well, in no part thanks to the convincingly strong lead work from Mary Elizabeth Winstead – who is far from just a vulnerable scream queen, capable of adapting herself to, and improvising her way out of, most any situation. There's also the powerhouse presence of John Goodman, who dominates the piece, whilst director Dan Trachtenberg handles the small and large-scale thrills with aplomb, delivering an impressive debut and superb sequel.
Picture QualityParamount’s UK release of 10 Cloverfield Lane delivers the gritty goods
Rendered with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, the digitally shot image is largely good, but also appreciably grimy. For many, the latter element will only add to the claustrophobic setting, and suitably frame the intimate tale, lending it a more gritty style that works. Technically, however, it’s a little more unstable than you would have liked, with a variable noise level that certainly brings down a few sequences and a light softness rounding out the edges across a couple of shots. Nevertheless, detail picks up the nuances of the underground, claustrophobic locale, whilst the colour scheme provides strong tones and decent black levels affording some solid shadow texture. It’s basically good, but far from great.
Sound QualityCas Harlow reviewed the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack on a 5.1-channel setup – Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, keenly prioritised across the front and centre channels, and lapping up the whispers and shouts within the closed environment. Effects are nuanced and disseminated expertly across the array, giving the bunker life and positing you right in the claustrophobic thick of things, in spite of the initial lack of overt punchy bombast from the material itself, and when things do kick off, the LFE channel more resolutely comes into play and the array overloads with punch and presence. The score does a tremendous job too, cranking up the tension throughout the piece, to almost unbearable levels, whilst also kicking into overdrive for the more expansive finale. Needless to say, 10 Cloverfield Lane sounds excellent.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is the very definition of an immersive audio experience
Steve Withers reviewed the Dolby Atmos soundtrack on a 7.2.4-channel setup – The Dolby Atmos soundtrack for 10 Cloverfied Lane is a superb example of how an audio mix can enhance the viewing experience. Although the majority of the film takes place in a bunker and is dominated by dialogue, the sound designers constantly use the surround and overhead channels to subtly remind the viewer where the protagonists are and the mix very effectively ramps up the tension. The dialogue is always clear, whether whispered or shouted, and is mixed effectively across the front channels and even in to the surrounds on occasion. The precise effects steering not only retains a sense of environment but also allows sounds to move seamlessly around the physical space in conjunction with the characters. Despite the dialogue heavy nature of the soundtrack, there are still plenty of opportunities to give your subwoofer a good workout. A car crash near the beginning is highly visceral and will use every channel in your sound system, whilst the sound of 'something' moving over the bunker makes very effective use of the overhead channels. During the final 20 minutes of the film the soundtrack really gets a chance to open up and let loose, with the sound designers taking full advantage of Dolby Atmos to emphasise the action, whilst the score proves highly effective throughout. Overall 10 Cloverfield Lane's Dolby Atmos soundtrack is the very definition of an immersive audio experience and comes highly recommended.
ExtrasThe disc sports a featurette-dominated selection of extras, headlined by a commentary
The audio commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer (of both this and the original Cloverfield) J.J. Abrams manages to be that rare commentary that is both informative and entertaining. Beyond that, the 7 accompanying featurettes dip into key aspects of the production, looking behind the premise of the film and the reworking to fit a sequel to the first film; the bunker set; the improvised hazmat suit design; key effects for the finale; Bad Robot’s effects division, and the score.
Verdict10 Cloverfield Lane can be added to that rare list of superior - or at least equal - sequels.
The UK Blu-ray release boasts good video but outstanding audio, bolstered by a Dolby Atmos track, and there's a nice selection of informative extra features rounding out the disc. Fans of the first film should lap this up, and it gets a recommended rental. It may be small scale, but it uses clever ideas to further expand the world introduced in the first film in a very different, and remarkably effective, direction.
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