Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of this sci-fi horror adventure about a group of friends that venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89
Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 84 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

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: A

Release Date: January 23, 2018
"An Original and Frightening Video Documentary"
My Take:

I reviewed Cloverfield’s 2008 Blu-ray release, and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for film, audio, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to that release. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video are below.

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 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 solid 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.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Audio: 98
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 

 

Cloverfield comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 60 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.

Cloverfield was shot on film, rendered from a 2K Master and up-converted to 4K for its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Being a “found footage” film, Cloverfield hasn’t looked especially good on home video. By design it wasn’t intended to be a visual treat, instead utilizing various cinematographic elements to support its thematic tone. Film grain is present, and rendered accordingly, depending on the scene specific implementation. The film’s opening, which features the video camera footage taken at Beth’s apartment, reveals that the Ultra HD rendering provides a noticeable bump in resolution. This was predominantly the case over the course of the presentation, depending on the camera, and lighting scheme used. The shots on the city streets, at night, look quite good, revealing ample detail, and depth of field.

I think that the application of high dynamic range is what made the biggest visual impact. Colors, in the aforementioned Beth/Rob video cam segments, had lots of richness, appearing more natural than the oversaturated rendering on Blu-ray. The street sequence just after the initial creature attack, before the group gets to the Brooklyn Bridge, looked beautiful, as it sepia adorned aesthetic and delineated shadows worked hand in hand. The specular highlights in the bridge’s lighting, and overhead spotlights from the helicopters had lots of pop. The same was true later as the military engaged the creature on the streets. I found myself blinking each time the strobe in the emergency backup lighting in Beth’s crumbling building went off. I did notice a few minor instances of aliasing, the garbage can near Marlene in the subway scene for example, but otherwise didn’t see any deleterious artifacts.

While Cloverfield isn’t going to be the disc people reach for to show off how good Ultra HD Blu-ray looks, I was pleasantly surprised by the incremental improvements its rendering made when compared to the standard Blu-ray. The decision to upgrade will largely depend on how much you enjoy the film. Personally, I am glad to retire my Blu-ray version in favor of this.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system, to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Cloverfield, I found the HDR to be close, but felt that the DV rendering edged out the HDR-10. Much of this came when comparing the same scenes, and finding that the rendering of color was ever so slightly more vivid, and delineated (worthy of note, but not enough to warrant a rating bump). I also thought that gradations in the white detail, such as in the scene in the military triage area, and both outside and inside of the electronics store were easier to see. The darkened interior of Beth’s apartment had improved details in the dark areas within backgrounds. While I wouldn’t categorize these differences as stark, I definitely felt that the DV rendering was my preference.

It was interesting to read my comments (from nearly ten years ago) regarding the soundtrack, and how they referenced my prior DVD review. I have decided to include them as they appeared in my original Blu-ray review, which clearly shows how enthusiastic I was for the track.

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 at lower 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. Dialog 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 where 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.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1 Cloverfield Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Cloverfield Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Material
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

Cloverfield is a quick paced thrill ride that is not your run of the mill monster attack type film, due in large part to the way the story is told. It’s a guilty pleasure that I enjoy returning to from time to time. It’s making its Ultra HD debut in the Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Paramount Home Distribution featuring complimentary and gratifying Ultra HD video quality, excellent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound and legacy bonus material. Cloverfield doesn’t make for top notch Ultra HD eye candy, but it has never looked this good on home video. If you’re a true fan, it deserves a place in your Ultra HD Blu-ray collection.
 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems