Cloverfield (DVD)



Cloverfield DVD review (click for larger imageReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, Mike Vogel, Jessica Lucas, Michael Stahl-David, T.J. Miller, Clovey

Directed by Matt Reeves

Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment


Thank god for international travel! Producer J.J. Abrams happened to be in a Japanese toy store looking at Godzilla dolls when it occurred to him that Big G was their national monster! Wouldn't it be cool it the States had one as well? From there the wheels started turning and Clovey was born. What followed was a kickass trailer that told us nothing and led to Internet speculation that would spread like a California wildfire! Was this a new Godzilla movie? Was it a Voltron(!) movie? Was it a movie called Cheese? For a while all we had was a date -- 1.18.08. Thankfully it wasn't long before pieces of the puzzle began revealing themselves, and one of the best giant monster (or Kaiju) movies ever made was unleashed on Western audiences with great ferocity. The film, Cloverfield as it was eventually titled, opened wide in January and set a box office record for that month. Could its DVD cousin be poised to clean up the cash again? Are there any more clues about what the monster is (or was) on the DVD? Sit back, kids, because Clovey is about to start its rampage anew!

Cloverfield DVD review (click for larger imageRob (Stahl-David) had an amazing future planned. He was headed to Japan to start a new gig that would set him on the road to living comfortably. Too bad he'd have to leave all his friends, his brother, and his long-time love interest (with whom he'd finally gotten into the sack) behind. The movie centers on the night of his going-away party. His best friend Hud (Miller) has been given the job of recording testimonials for Rob so he can relive the memory of this night via home video. Would he want to remember though? Going-away parties are notoriously awkward, and this one was no exception until ... the ground shakes, the lights go out, and New York City starts screaming while crumbling. What's the cause of all this ruckus? A three-hundred-foot creature that's packing not only lots of bite, but also hundreds of smaller blood-hungry parasites. Before you know it, we're embroiled in some good old fashioned military vs. monster action, all shot cinéma-vérité style!

What we have here is essentially Godzilla meets The Blair Witch. We follow our heroes as they (sometimes) narrowly escape creature encounters from the lens of Hud's camera, and the results are incredible to say the least. Be warned, though. Many folks without their sea legs have gotten sick due to the film's run-and-gun style, even folks who endured similar camera techniques in Blair. Hopefully on the smaller screen motion sickness won't be as much of a problem as it was in theatres. You should at least try to make it through because Cloverfield is nothing short of a spectacle. A fast and furious thrill ride through a monster-laden battlefield. There were, however, a couple of bumps in the mostly smooth road for me. For instance, some of the characters' motivations seemed a bit daft. Doing something for love is one thing; doing said something while a giant pissed-off monster is riding up your ass bringing buildings crashing down around you is a whole different story! Also, there are a few false notes hit here and there that briefly take the viewer out of the experience. Despite these minor shortcomings Cloverfield is sitting high up on my year-end best of list and is as close to perfect as it gets. It's nothing short of a love letter to the Kaiju films we all grew up watching and adoring.

Cloverfield DVD review (click for larger imageI want more. Much more. And this DVD does a good job of fleshing out what it took to bring this ambitious project to fruition. What it doesn't do is further along any lingering speculation about the creature or the events of the film. Wondering what that was at the very end that splashed into the water to the left of the boat in Coney Island? Keep wondering as it's not addressed even in the commentary. I guess Abrams and Reeves decided to keep things a mystery. It's more fun that way anyhow. For the keen-eyed viewer there are a few easter eggs to be found on the DVD and even within the film itself (i.e., still shots of some great movies like the original King Kong, Them!, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms are there to be seen during Cloverfield in subliminal penile Fight Club style so have your DVD remotes ready if you wanna catch them).

Them! (00:24.08)
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (00:45.29)
King Kong (1:06.55)

Now then, on to the special features. The DVD is pretty stacked but not as packing as I'm sure some folks (myself included) would have liked. After a lively and engaging commentary with director Matt Reeves, the festivities are kicked off with the nearly thirty-minute featurette Document 01.18.08: The Making of Cloverfield. Here we are treated to a genuinely interesting making-of that covers the genesis of the idea, how the cast themselves were kept in the dark, and of course all that crazy speculation while also shedding some light on the filming of some of the flick's amazing set pieces. If you're a fan, this is your hot yet brief ticket for some behind-the-scenes goodness. From there we get about six minutes with lead creature designer Neville Page on the look and plight of Clovey called I Saw It! It's Alive! It's Huge! Apparently the monster, even at three hundred feet tall, was still supposed to be a newborn (I'd hate to see the adult) that was thrown into a foreign world and then attacked. His roars were to be not those of anger, but of fright. Calling out to its mother if you will. This is a really cool idea though it didn't convey well on screen. Nice to know though. Kind of puts a different slant on things. You can almost empathize with the creature. Almost.

Cloverfield DVD review (click for larger imageNext up we have a twenty-three-minute look at the film's visual F/X, which is exactly what it says that it is; a quick four minute gag-reel; and then it was time for the moment I've been anticipating ... the deleted scenes and alternate endings! Color me disappointed. The new scenes and endings add nothing to the film itself and, truth be told, were wisely excised. The four deleted scenes are about four minutes long combined, and the endings are almost the same except for the last few moments of each. Sorry, folks, but there's nothing to see here. Man, what a letdown!

So there you have it -- the skinny on the home video release of one of the most anticipated films of the year! Did it live up to its hype? For me I'd say yes. It gave me every single thing that I could have wanted from it and more. It's good to see monster movies back on the map! It's especially good when the environments on said map are nothing but heaps of smoldering rubble and dust with giant footprints in them. Here's hoping that mama hears her baby's call!

Special Features

  • Commentary with director Matt Reeves
  • Document 01.18.08: The Making of Cloverfield featurette
  • Cloverfield Visual Effects featurette
  • I Saw It! It's Alive! It's Huge! featurette
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Endings
  • Clover Fun outtakes reel

    Film:

    4 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    4 out of 5

    Discuss Cloverfield in our Dread Central forums!




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    Watched Cloverfield again this weekend and it gets worse with repeat viewings. How the fuck did that giant monster sneak up on Hud and crew? Why is no one in the stylish gang freaking out about the situation NY and themselves are in?


    Submitted by Kryten Syxx on Wed, 09/03/2008 - 5:32pm.

    Duh... Of course 'giant creatures' can sneak up on people unnoticed. Haven't you seen the last ten minutes of "Jurassic Park"?

    *Smacks head with palm of hand!*


    Submitted by PelusaMG on Wed, 09/03/2008 - 8:16pm.
    Chainsaw's picture

    Team ECK rules. As do sodas and kazoos.

    :D


    Submitted by Chainsaw on Tue, 04/22/2008 - 8:06am.
    Terminal's picture

    Roland Emmerich killed them. And I think caveman movies. And alien movies... and apocalypse movies. No wait, those still rock. Damn Emmerich.


    Submitted by Terminal on Tue, 04/22/2008 - 7:56am.

    Monster movies are dead!


    Submitted by Kryten Syxx on Tue, 04/22/2008 - 6:58am.
    moderator The subliminal imagery is
    Steve Barton's picture

    The subliminal imagery is literally blink and you missed it.

    And by the way ...

    "ECK!"


    Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 04/18/2008 - 1:43pm.
    Terminal's picture

    And it works, because I've seen it about four times already. It's been wonderful.


    Submitted by Terminal on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 6:40pm.
    Tsotha-lanti's picture

    I didn't notice the subliminal images... I guess they had to find some way to make it rewatchable. :lol:


    Submitted by Tsotha-lanti on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 2:55pm.

    "I think somewhere in some part of town, Creepy just went: ECK! and wonders why. He'll find out..."

    Hmmm... I went "ECK!" recently when a (male) friend offered to blow me! Sorry, but no matter how bad my marriage gets, I ain't going there...

    ... well, maybe if they looked like this I might!


    Submitted by PelusaMG on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 8:20pm.

    I hope it's a Special Edition with a pop-out monster when you open the DVD case... That would be freeeeking cool!


    Submitted by PelusaMG on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 8:15pm.
    Gus Bjork's picture

    "So, when are we going to get the super special edition with the good supplements?"

    Like a receipe for Flaming Hobos?


    Submitted by Gus Bjork on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 4:12pm.

    "the monster...was still supposed to be a newborn"

    I listened to a podcast with Drew Goddard and they asked him about this and he said tha this is not "canon" but just an idea that Reeves had thrown out there.


    Submitted by G.D. on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 2:19pm.

    So, when are we going to get the super special edition with the good supplements?


    Submitted by Kryten Syxx on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 12:12pm.
    Terminal's picture

    I think somewhere in some part of town, Creepy just went: ECK! and wonders why. He'll find out...


    Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 9:47am.

    I think Terminal you agree with Creepy more than you disagree... in fact, I have yet to see you both together... in fact, I bet you are the same person!


    Submitted by PelusaMG on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 9:45am.
    Terminal's picture

    Oh yeah, there's also the URL to CloverfieldFiles.com that is a nonexistent website right now. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us. The viral universe goes on sequel or not.


    Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 6:13am.
    thedudeabides's picture

    It's too bad they didn't touch upon the viral aspect more in the supplimental section, but I'll have to check out that Easter Egg.


    Submitted by thedudeabides on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 5:43am.
    Terminal's picture

    There are a few Easter Eggs too.

    X Marks the Spot - It's okay, just mainly the subway sequence without the "added oomph."

    Rack em and Pack Em - VERY funny little gag sequence.

    And then...

    Go to the 13-16 Scene selection menu, wait 1:17, and you'll find a hidden chapter with a portion of the viral material on it. It's great stuff.

    BUT in spite of that, something tells me a Special Edition is in the works that the viral geeks will swallow whole. I can dream.


    Submitted by Terminal on Wed, 04/16/2008 - 4:46am.
    Gus Bjork's picture

    Good review Creepy. I loved the movie but I am disappointed in the special features. I was hoping for more, especially with all the different threads the threw out there in leading up to the release.


    Submitted by Gus Bjork on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 10:17pm.
    Terminal's picture

    Watching it two more times on DVD really convinced me what a fantastic film this was. I loved it. And again... I... AGREE with Creepy!

    :-O


    Submitted by Terminal on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 6:30pm.

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