Directed by Matt Reeves
Written by Drew Goddard
Produced by J.J. Abrams & Bryan Burk
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan & Jessica Lucas
2008/85 Mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Paramount DVD
Rob (Stahl-David) has accepted a job promotion in Japan. Before leaving, his friends have organized him a party. Hud (Miller) is responsible of recording everything that happens with Rob's video camera. Everyone is there even Beth (Yustman), Rob's best friend and the woman he secretly loves. After an altercation Beth leaves. Moments later an explosion erupts in the middle of the city. Panic ensues, as destruction, mayhem and mysterious thing wreck havoc around New York City. Rob decides to head uptown to save Beth who left him a message on his cell phone calling for help.
Completely told through the video camera, just like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and more recently THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, CLOVERFIELD is "probably a realistic depiction" of what it would be like if a giant monster really did attack Manhattan. Much like the ultimate and perfect monster film, Steven Spielberg's JAWS, they wisely decided to avoid showing too much of the creature too soon. What we are treated to is only bits and hints of what it is and what it looks like, great decision. For me CLOVERFIELD is by far the most intense, exciting, frightening cinematic roller-coaster ride I have experienced in years.
More importantly, I strongly believe that the film is a milestone in contemporary genre filmmaking. Why is that? As mentioned before, it actually entertained me beyond anything I have seen in years. Much like the 1950s sci-fi horror movie represented themes of the time, CLOVERFIELD is a reflection of the events of 9/11, and a movie for the Gen Y/YouTube era. Basically it took old ideas, put them in today's settings, thus taking them to another level. Finally, it successfully reinvented the giant monster movie genre, one that’s dear to my heart and love for cinema.
Some have complained about the shaky handheld-camera. Sure it’s not for everyone. Personally it didn't bother me in theater but watching it on my 120" projector screen I did feel a little dizzy in some sequences, but you've got to remember that its actually all part of the experience of the film. Another complain I keep on reading is about the fact that the main characters in the film are white, attractive and privileged yuppies. Aren't most characters in American films like that anyways? Wouldn't this simply be some kind of jealousy? I'm surprised of just how much hate as been targeted towards CLOVERFIELD's characters while the same people praise and love every annoying and beyond ridiculous characters in every 80s horror film. And unlike these 80s horror film, which I do love, CLOVERFIELD is actually really character driven story wise. And the reason it works, is that none of the actors are well known and going into the film they simply didn't know what would be happening next since they never got a script! That gave a whole level of realism to their performance that sometimes too hard to trying to deliver in front of the camera.
Two movies that really inspired the makers of CLOVERFIELD are without a doubt John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and Ishiro Honda's GODZILLA. Two timeless classics, which left a huge mark on cinema and especially CLOVERFIELD. SLUSHO and CHEESE were two of the many names used by the production team to foul the Internet rumor sites. The $30 million film made almost $80 million during its North America theatrical run.
Possible spoiler even for those who've seen the film but might have not noticed; at the end of the film, after what seems like the end of the last characters, we see Rob and Beth in Coney Island. On the right end of the screen you can see something falling from the sky into the ocean. Was it the creature? Probably not, as in the film we hear about a satellite that felt into the ocean. My guess is that when it felt there it awakens the sleeping creature. This gives a very Lovecraftian feel to the whole film, which I think is very cool.
CLOVERFIELD crawls its way on DVD thanks to Paramount. The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and it is anamorphic. The transfer looks amazing. For those wondering, no it wasn't really shot with a handheld camera you could find for $500. Most of the time they used the same HD camera as David Fincher did for ZODIAC. We get the original Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio track, which is loud and crisp. Still I would have hoped for a DTS track, which would have sounded even better. A French and Spanish dubbed track are also available in Dolby Digital 5.1. Plus you get the choices of English, French and Spanish subtitles. One "complain" I have about the film is that for those who missed it during its theatrical run won't experience the film the way it was meant to be. I have a huge projector screen at home and it didn't delivered the same feeling as in theater.
There's a commentary track with director Matt Reeves in which he talks about all of the aspect of the film. My only problem with it is that Reeves as a very boring voice to listen to. He's a nice guy but don't let him behind a microphone. "Document 01.18.08: The Making of CLOVERFIELD' is a 30 minutes featurette which tons of cool behind-the-scenes footage, clips, interviews with cast and crew looking at pretty much all the details behind the film. 'CLOVERFIELD Visual Effects' is a 23 minutes featurette that tales a look at how the FX were created for the film. From design to sketches to pre-vis to cg animation. 'I Saw It! It's Alive! It's Huge' is a 6 minutes featurette "explaining" things about the creature. 'Clover Fun' features some bloopers. We get four deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director. We also get two alternate ending with optional commentary by the director. Don't get too excited here, as they don't really bring anything new to the film.
There are many hidden Easter eggs. There are animated menus with scenes from the film. Trailer for STAR TREK remake, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. The film is separated in 16 chapters stop, comes in a keep case with no booklet or inlay card. A great DVD edition for a new genre classic!
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2008. ©