Starring Mike Vogel, TJ
Miller, Jessica Lucas, Lizzie Kaplan, Odette Yustman, Michael David. Directed by
LOST creator and blockbuster director (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3, STAR TREK) J.J. Abrams teamed up with genre rookie
Matt Reeves, whose only other claim-to-fame as a director is the David Schwimmer (who?) 1996 comedy fiasco, THE PALLBEARER.
After the failure of Matt Reeve's debut, (Which not only killed Reeves career but Schwimmer's too), J.J. Abrams made the
first major mistake of his promising filmmaking career by recruiting Reeves to write and direct CLOVERFIELD. Only someone
living under a rock has not heard the premise of CLOVERFIELD, and how it meshes the world of the giant monster smackdown
with that of the hand-held camera perspective of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. This is the type of motion picture that you either
love or hate. Despite being a fan of JURASSIC PARK saga, Peter Jackson's KING KONG, and THE INCREDIBLE HULK reboot, I have to cast
myself a naysayer.
Much as I love a genre film to be packed with fleeing citizens, monster attacks, military intervention,
and the entire man vs nature mindset that usually permeates these films, CLOVERFIELD left me feeling cold. Could it be the
annoying POV photography (that's guaranteed to induce seizures in your children, so don't let them watch this)? Could it be
the annoying cast members that you really want to see massacred because they can't act? Could it be Reeve's braindead script
and offensive editing? I won't even go into the bad digital effects and the poor monster designs. To be honest, folks
no one is more surprised than me that CLOVERFIELD was a hit. Why the MTV-weaned youth of today and videogame addicts
rushed out to see this mess is a complete mystery to me. Its as if Abrams and Reeves dissected some lame SCI-FI channel
made for cable yawnfest starring John Schneider, Casper Van Dien, and Dean Caine, juiced up the budget, the result is
not pretty. Even those washed up SCI FI channels offerings at least have some veteran talent; CLOVERFIELD has not even
one B 'name' actor. Sadly, CLOVERFIELD 2 is already promised on the way, courtesy of J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeve.
CLOVERFIELD is not an easy movie to summarize, since it offers no explanation within its 2 hour running time. Its just a
series of vignettes pinched together with nary a clue. There is no explanation as to where the main monster and its offspring
come from, nor is there any connection or significance to what the word 'Cloverfield' is supposed to represent. The
protagonist is 20-something party boy Hud (TJ Miller) whose usual Saturday night
festivities are broken up the the arrival of something unknown setting off car alarms and fire alarms. Next, Hud and his drunken friends witness the decapitation of the Statue
of Liberty. Hud uses his video camera to document the night of terror as the city of New York is destroyed block by block
by something completely unseen. Hud and co. take refuge into the tunnels beneath the city, but they are soon hunted down by
some insectiod Alien-ripoffs that are supposedly the offspring of the monster above. Turns out that the dispatched US army
can't do a damn thing against the creatures (how original). Watch as swiftly dwindling group of friends try to escape the
city without getting eaten. People who love CLOVERFIELD gush over its so-called 'originality', that is its point of view and
lack of explanation. They claim no explanation is superior to the usual science fiction hodge podge
explanation that make it unique; I say that they were just lazy
filmmaking--its far too easy to show something than it is to explain it and
that's just how the CLOVERFIELD turned out--its just an overall rushed, shoddy production and
that's my perspective. The videogamer mindset is not going to complain
about a lack of story or cohesion.
Paramount Home Video presents CLOVERFIELD on Blu Ray in a 1.78.1 ratio with a 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer that is
sharp and clear. The high quality presentation is so good that it is guaranteed to give you a head ache trying to keep up
with the characters. We are talking potential seizures here folks, so beware. The transfer also reveals some limitations to
the shoddy effects sequences. I'm sure the filmmakers can account for the bad effects since its all supposed to be captured
on a video camera (wink wink). The transfer renders these effects sequences rather blatantly, which may cause you
to groan a bit (like I did). The cinematography incorporates bright color palletes, which comes though nicely here. Despite an overall strong visual impact, there are some minor instances of oversaturization, bad fleshtones, and uneven
black levels. The authoring is well-done with no banding, wavering, artifacting, or pixelization.
The Blu Ray's acoustic preferences include an impressive English TrueHD 5.1 Surround soundtrack. Since CLOVERFIELD is a major
action spectacle, the TrueHD option includes cutting edge sound design. The hovering helicopters, military
explosions, monster noises, and other sound effects are clear and resonate in the sound field. The rear effects are
aggressive. The bass is super-powerful allowing the monsters footsteps to thoom appropriately.
The dialog is rich and crisp. The disc's other two sound options include French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.
I checked them out for comparison's sake and even though they are not quite as powerful as the English TrueHD track, they
are not too far off either for their respective languages.
Special Features include a commentary track from the brilliant director Michael Reeves who reveals some insight into the
production and explains the origins of the concepts as well as the technical detail (mercifully, there are no actors from
the movie on here). Next is the Making of Cloverfield, a detailed 30 minute documentary that explores the production.
Cloverfield Visual Effects is a 25 minute doc that covers the design of the beasties and other dynamic effects sequences.
I Saw It, Its
Alive Its Huge is a 5 minute piece that explains the creatures and their motives. There are 5 minutes worth of
Alternate Endings that while won't change my opinion of CLOVERFIELD, certainly gives the fans something to debate. These scenes are presented
with an optional Reeves commentary. There are also 5 minutes worth of Deleted
Scenes which certainly don't do anything for the viewing experience. Like the endings, they feature optional director's commentary. The good news is that ALL the extras are
in high definition!!!
While CLOVERFIELD is not my monster movie of choice, I have to hand it to
Paramount Home Video for putting together a superb Blu Ray package. Technically, this is a very strong effort with the soundtrack and all
features completely remastered
in HD. Hopefully CLOVERFIELD 2 will dispense with the whole camera-eye mentality and let us fully appreciate the monster
CLOVERFIELDBLU RAY available at DVDEmpire.com
- Brian Cleary
TO REVIEW INDEX