The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 84 Minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, Odette Yustman, T. J. Miller
Directed by: Matt Reeves
Music by: Michael Bonvillian
Written by: Drew Goodard
Region Code: Not indicated
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 3, 2008
"An original and frightening video documentary"
Five young New Yorkers throw their friend a going-away party the night that a monster the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city. Told from the point of view of their video camera, the film is a document of their attempt to survive the most surreal, horrifying event of their lives.
I had seen the trailer for Cloverfield while at the movies last year and I was intrigued. Unfortunately I never got the chance to get it at the theater. I did hear some feedback from those who had. Most claimed the film was good but that the way it was shot from the handheld video cam perspective made it hard to watch. I heard of some more extreme cases where people were suffering headaches and nausea (similar to motion sickness) due to the camera motion. I reviewed the DVD earlier this year and I can’t speak for everyone but I watched it with my family and none of us had any problems. I will admit that you never get used to the constant movement of the camera but after a while it becomes less bothersome. I think that it helps drive the suspense filled story line.
Personally I liked Cloverfield. I mean conceptually its nothing new but I enjoyed the characters, the slow build up, the action and even the abrupt ending. This was definitely a throwback to a bygone era when monsters like Godzilla and Mothra attacked Tokyo Japan. This works really well in that it is told from a much more personal perspective which focuses on a select group of individuals. These are strong characters that are reasonably believable and in one case laugh out loud funny. TJ Miller’s character “Hud” is one of the reasons why I liked this film. He is the “cameraman” and his comments as things unfold around him is hilarious. I think that humor/levity in moments of tension helps to ease stress levels a bit. At 84 minutes this is not a long film and once it gets underway things move quickly. There is really never any explanation regarding the mysterious creature (s) and its origin but the story isn’t dependent on that. The entire film is told through the video cam which kind of leaves you feeling like there is something missing in the end. Overall I found this to be an enjoyable film that offered some good cinematic moments.
Cloverfield is rated PG-13 for violence, terror, and disturbing images. The rating is accurate as there are elements present here that could traumatize younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Cloverfield comes to Blu-ray from Paramount featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Lossless audio that has an average bitrate of 3.6 mbps.
I reviewed Cloverfield on DVD in early April and was impressed with the quality of the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Well after watching it again on Blu-ray with lossless Dolby TrueHD surround I was treated to a truly theatrical experience that left blew me away (literally). As you can see by the scoring this was a first rate presentation that simply rocked. I just love the film’s opening moments. It starts with a black screen accompanied by deep low bass thumps which are later identified as the footsteps of the invading entity. These sounded good on the DVD but here they sounded great. It was easy to note a discernible difference in the depth, tightness, and palpability of the bass here versus the DVD. This was definitely the case throughout the film. Bass heads will have a new demonstration disc to show off the capabilities of their subwoofers. The bass response in my room during several sequences in this film was literally skin tingling. The opening salvo at 18:20 (the rooftop during the party) got things started quite nicely. The attack at the Brooklyn Bridge and shortly after as they enter the subway station was awesome. This soundtrack will test not only the limits of your subwoofer but how well it reproduces bass frequencies within the lower sub levels. Watch the scene down in the subway station as the battle rages on above them. There is a plenty of deep bass energy at various frequencies included in this sequence. It is contained within the background but should be clearly detectable and tactile in nature.
This in an aggressive and invigorating surround mix that incorporates a plethora of aurally stimulating effects to create a captivating and sometimes frightening listening experience. Dialogue sounded superb and well defined through the center channel. I loved the perception of hearing variable volume changes in voices as subjects moved closer to the camera. The same was true of flying objects and other sounds within the frame. This created an immersive and symmetrical sound field that bombarded the sweet spot. The scene were Hud is attacked by the creature in the film’s finale pretty much sums up all the positive elements contained in this audio presentation. It sounded really cool.
I felt that the video quality on the DVD was less than ideal. Here are my comments from that review:
” The video presentation was a little difficult to judge as the entire film is seen through the “video cam”. This limited apparent resolution which caused the image to look less detailed. It didn’t inhibit the ability to see onscreen events but made images lack sharpness and depth. Add to that the fact that the camera is in motion quite a bit and things just looked blurry sometimes. The idea was to created the feeling of catching glimpses of what was going on and it was done to excellent effect. The majority of what you see takes place at night or in dim or no light. You have to really focus of making out what is happening so that you don’t miss anything. I didn’t make out any extraneous video noise. If there was any I would say that it might be hard to discern it. This is not a film that is designed to be technically proficient in terms of video quality. The more important issue is that the viewer be able to determine what they are seeing and that was never a problem.”
Right off the bat it was obvious that the higher resolution made a noticeable improvement in image perception. Detail was much improved which provided a better sense of visual depth and focus during the rapid camera pans and movement. To me this made a big difference in making out what was occurring. Elevated contrast levels made whites appear too hot which washed them out. Colors were oversaturated with exaggerated primary colors and overcooked secondary colors. I can’t say that it translated negatively to image quality as a whole but it was noticeable. Blacks were good but not the best that I have seen. Shadow detail was inconsistent from sequence to sequence but I think it was good more often than not. Grain appeared well preserved and unobtrusive with only a few exceptions. The beginning of chapter 5 as they enter the apartment building rooftop, and later as they ascend the stairs in route to rescue Beth from her apartment grain was not only visible but fairly heavy. I saw no signs of compression related video anomalies or noise. I was pleased with the quality of this encoding and felt that it greatly improved upon the film’s experience.
My scoring for the DVD’s audio was an 86 and my scoring for its video was a 76. I would say that this Blu-ray Disc yields a marked improvement.
The bonus set offered here is decent and provides good background on the film both in pre-production and during shooting. These are ported over from the DVD release. The Making Of features interviews with the cast, director and production staff. It delves into the conceptual background on the film and reveals that not even the cast knew what was going to happen in story even as they began shooting. This was all kept very close to the vest to prevent it from getting out before the release of Cloverfield. The Visual Effects piece looked at how the camera work was done and the reason for it. Clover Fun was an adlib piece done by a few of the cast members using the camera which was actually pretty funny. The I Saw It, Its Alive, Its Huge feature looked at the design of the creature and the special effects used in the film. The Alternate Endings were all similar and offered nothing different to the theatrical ending. The Deleted Scenes and Commentary tracks were the same ole same ole. I enjoyed the featurettes and found them to be interesting for the most part. The addition of the Special Investigation feature on Blu-ray adds a fun element by playing back the feature in an interface that provides interesting background on the films locations and characters. It has the appearance and feel of a government database that has been setup to catalog the events that transpired at Cloverfield.
- (HD)Special Investigation Mode: Enhanced viewing
- Director Commentary
- (HD)Document 01.18.08: The making of Cloverfield feature
- (HD)I saw I ! Its alive ! Its huge ! feature
- (HD)Clover fun feature
- (HD)4 deleted scenes
- (HD)3 alternate endings
Cloverfield is a quick paced thrill ride that excites your senses (literally). It is not your run of the mill monster attack type film due in large part to the way the story is told. This presentation offers superlative high resolution sound and excellent video quality that will put you right in the action. Paramount Blu-ray has delivered the goods on what is sure to become a favorite among audio enthusiasts. Prepare yourselves to be entertained! I would like to point out that those who are susceptible to motion sickness may want to keep in mind that this film has the potential to aggravate it. It didn’t bother me or anyone in my family. Recommended.
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Sony VPL-VW50 SXRD 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Outlaw Audio Model 7700 seven channel amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package