Fresh on 4K: ‘CLOVERFIELD’ shakes up the found-footage genre

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

CLOVERFIELD (2008)

Rated PG-13, 85 minutes.
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Mike VogelJessica LucasLizzy CaplanT.J. MillerMichael Stahl-DavidOdette Annable and Theo Rossi
Available today on 4K Ultra HD.

The popularity of the found-footage genre in filmmaking has noticeably taken a dip in recent years. After forgettable titles like QUARANTINE and the outrageous number of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY sequels, the novelty of it all seems to have worn off. But what better way to revitalize interest in the format than by revisiting the one that breathed new life into it for a new generation? Just in time to celebrate its 10th anniversary, CLOVERFIELD is returning to store shelves in 4K UHD.

Movie Grade: B

CLOVERFIELD is a movie that was famously shrouded in mystery leading up to its release. With the notoriously secretive J.J. Abrams attached as producer during the height of LOST’s popularity, part of the fun was trying to figure out just what on earth the movie was about. Taking place entirely through the perspective of a handheld video camera, four friends risk life and limb to rescue one of their own in the midst of a sudden alien attack on Manhattan. It’s a tense thriller that endlessly teases the viewer with glimpses of the bigger picture that never forgets to sprinkle in some humor and believable relationships between its characters.

Video/ Audio Grade: B-

This is where the film becomes a little hard to recommend. It’s not as though the 4K resolution and HDR are unwatchable in this release, but what makes CLOVERFIELD work is the illusion that we are watching an actual recording of a monster attack on New York captured on just a regular video camera in the mid 2000s. Having a clearer picture and deeper color pallet would normally offer a richer experience for the viewer, but in this case it feels counterproductive.

Sourced from a 2K digital intermediate and filmed with five different cameras, CLOVERFIELD is upscaled to 4K resolution with moderate success. Facial pores and building textures are crisp and clear while the added HDR with Dolby Vision fares quite nicely in the darker scenes with a standout being the interaction with military personnel in an underground mall. The separation of light and dark colors in this sequence is easily noticeable and really helps sell the tension. Other scenes where the camera zooms out into the night to see an exploding building maintain the appropriate amount of grain to remind the viewer that this is supposed to have been captured by an ordinary camera.

The included DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is by no means a poor quality mix, but the omission of an Atmos Track is disappointing to be sure.

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Extras Grade: B

Other than a feature commentary by director Matt Reeves, no special features are included on the 4K disc. The included 1080p Blu-ray carries over all the same extras from the previous release, but they are still highly recommended for first time buyers. One standout feature is Document 01:18.08: The Making of CLOVERFIELD, which reveals just how much work went into making a seemingly minimalistic thriller. The Special Investigation Mode is exclusive to the 1080p version, but offers an interesting perspective that would help warrant a second viewing.

  • Audio Commentary by Director Matt Reeves
  • Special Investigation Mode
  • Document 01.18.08: The Making of CLOVERFIELD
  • CLOVERFIELD Visual Effects
  • I Saw It! It’s Alive! It’s Huge!
  • Clover Fun
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
  • Alternate Endings with Optional Commentary

Final Grade: B

This is definitely not the first title that pops into the typical 4K consumer’s mind for a film in desperate need of a 4K re-release. For what it’s worth, however, CLOVERFIELD in 4K UHD is a perfectly serviceable home theater experience.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.

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