Cloverfield, brought to you in NauseaVision!
Back when he was still primarily known for his work with Lost, J.J. Abrams introduced audiences to a “found footage” movie called Cloverfield. Despite significant commercial success a sequel never came, at least until eight years later when 10 Cloverfield Lane was released, which, while not a true sequel, was part of the same extended universe.
Now, with rumblings of two new entries in the Cloverfield universe on the horizon, Paramount has decided to bring the first two movies onto 4K UHD. Each copy includes the feature film on 4K and Blu-ray, and an additional Blu-ray containing all special features and bonus content. There are no new extras created specifically for the 4K release. A digital copy is included as well.
In the original, an unknown monster emerges and lays siege to New York, all of which is filmed from a handheld camera — the idea being that the Department of Defence found it in the aftermath of the event. While it’s on the short list of best found-footage movies (alongside The Blair Witch Project and Chronicle), the nearly constant movement can become tough to watch at times.
It also doesn’t help that Hud (played by a then-unknown T.J. Miller) is incredibly annoying. Maybe it’s that he’s “running” the camera for most of the movie that predisposed us to it, but the constant screaming and asking questions at bad times wears thin quick. The second half of the movie is cleaner (read: less likely to make you nauseous) and at around 80 minutes it doesn’t waste time, which is good.
Although the jump to 4K yields some tangible results, it’s important to remember that the source material is fairly limited as the movie itself was filmed via digital cameras that top out at 1080. The colour, including blacks, is cleaner and more vibrant throughout, though the style of filming didn’t lend itself to a lot of environmentally impressive imagery.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
With it being more spiritual successor than sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane shares precious little with its predecessor, being shot in a traditional third-person manner and featuring no appearance of the creature(s) from the original. Instead it focuses on Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who gets in a car accident and awakens in an underground bunker with Howard (John Goodman) and is told she can’t leave because of a cataclysmic event.
It’s a more interesting and enjoyable film than Cloverfield, and the entire thing is shown from Michelle’s perspective, which helps create tension about her circumstances. Goodman is the star of the show, however, delivering a strong performance in which there’s always some level of hostility being harboured just below the surface. He’s legitimately menacing throughout.
As you’d suspect given its use of better equipment to shoot the actual film, 10 Cloverfield Lane enjoys a more noticeable bump in overall quality. Of course, the caveat is that the vast majority of the movie takes place in an underground bunker, so improved clarity and definition end up being for things like more detail on Howard’s 1970s style decor.
While on the surface you’d think Cloverfield, which features a giant building-sized monster tearing through New York, would derive more benefit from a 4K upgrade, its film style limits the step up and makes improvement more noticeable in 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Both are worthwhile additions to any 4K collection, but if you already own the pair on Blu-ray we’d consider 10 Cloverfield Lane the better choice for an upgrade.