Cloverfield Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 1.78:1 1080p transfer that has been VC-1 encoded. Baring in mind how the film is shot and what it is supposed to be representing you might be forgiven into thinking that the print is riddled with artefacts and grain; actually the opposite is true it is a clean and sharp image - so clean in fact that it looks nothing like the digital video it is purported to be. First up the detail level is very sharp indeed, this is especially true of the distance shots over Coney Island or the destruction of the city, but equally with close up detail such as clothing weaves, dirt and grime in the subway to the décor of the party. There are moments when the image does soften a touch and it doesn't really exhibit that HD pop to any significant degree but there is still plenty to show up.
Colours are rather drab, this I feel is at odds with a digital camera, however, it is meant to look as such and therefore must be marked as such. With a rather earthy pallet, reds, browns and greens to fair very well, blues also come out looking well graded. There are no bleeding or posterisation problems to be seen.
Brightness is very well set to give some incredible depth to the frame, particularly with the cityscape shots and down in the subway; there is plenty of shadow detail adding much to the picture. Contrast is set to give some bright whites, on occasion overblown exhibiting some minor detail loss, but this is also intention and thus is transferred excellent.
Digitally there are no compression problems other than those added in post production and the original print is also as clean as a whistle excepting the same. In all a very fine picture well deserving of its score.
There are three sound tracks to choose from; English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, reviewed here is the English. As with the picture the sound too has had a bit of oomph added as a typical digital camcorder would barely be audible, although there are efforts made to bring it in line with how a mike works. For example dialogue is clear and audible and when the camera is transferred between people gets momentarily louder to represent that movement; a neat track and one that works fine. Also during the party scenes there is an amount of echo and tinny-ness added to the background music (which incidentally plays all around the room) again adding to the effect. But where the track really comes alive is during the cities destruction and the booming as the beast moves. There is some tremendous deep bass here, enough to rattle the windows in their frames; in fact bass throughout the film is very well set to give some deep resonance to the track grounding everything in reality, oxymoronic though that may sound.
Effects such as gun shots, falling debris and the creaking of the leaning building have some excellent steerage around the room, explosions and helicopter blades fairing just as good. In all it's a very immersive sound track even with the lack of score there is still plenty going on. Very impressive.
- Audio Commentary with Director Matt Reeves
This is a pretty good listen, Reeves talks candidly about his impressions and direction whilst filling us with interesting titbits about production and the cast. There is hardly a pause for breath and he is very enthusiastic about the whole affair.
- Document 01.18.08: The Making of Cloverfield - 0.28.22
This is a pretty good behind the scenes piece concentrating on characters, casting and filming on sets and location; showcases the amount of green/blue screen that was used and how it blends so seamlessly with the location footage. Plenty of information given and little to no padding from film footage, perhaps a little rushed but gets its point across without all the back slapping.
- Cloverfield Visual Effects - 0.22.32
A near continuation of the above featurette, this time concentrating on the various effects, digital or otherwise, used throughout the film. Once again informative and entertaining without over padding or slush.
- I Saw It! It's Alive! It's Huge! - 0.05.53
A short feature concentrating on the creature, its design, character and how it interacts with the city it is destroying.
- Clover Fun - 0.03.56
Is a blooper reel with plenty of improvisation included during the party scenes.
- Deleted Scenes - 0.03.25
Can be played separately, all together with or without Reeves' commentary. Mostly scene extensions that amount to a few seconds here and there, so brief you wonder why they were excised - officially timing apparently.
- Alternate Endings - 0.04.29
Two alternate ending that can be played separately, all together with or without Reeves' commentary. The differences are extremely short amounting to a few seconds at most and I think that the one used was the best of the bunch.
- HD Exclusive - Special Investigative Mode: Enhanced viewing mode with GPS tracking
Selecting this option opens up like a picture in picture with the main part playing the film, the right hand side being dedicated to the GPS and the bottom listing trivia titbits. It's pretty hokey, but looks quite good, the GPS shows the location of the creature, our heroes and the army whilst the pop up trivia is a mixture of behind the scenes info and fictional data meant as part of the 'government data'.
- Easter Egg - 1.26
Select Menu - settings - audio - subtitles - Spanish - then push right with the remote to highlight a helicopter.
Plays a selection of the cast and crew saying “Rack 'em and pack 'em, we're phantoms in fifteen”
As an extras package there is plenty here and it's mostly free from the self congratulatory fluff that pollutes most big name releases. The HD exclusive content is pretty light, but taken in context with how the film is presented works out just fine.
Cloverfield may not be breaking new ground in terms of its story, they way its presents it or even with its effects, however on this home format it is much more than the sum of its parts. It plays well, and draws you in, you care and root for the characters and even find yourself tilting your head with the camera movements.
Paramount has provided this disc with top notch transfer and sound and then backed that up with a fully rounded extras package making this one hellofa package. If you can get over shaky cameras this one is recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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- Audio Commentary with Director Matt Reeves