Review: ‘Cloverfield’

Wesley Snipes

Though Paramount officially lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding “Cloverfield” back in January, there are still plenty of mysteries left for the DVD to solve.

This review contains spoilers.

Though Paramount officially lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding “Cloverfield” back in January, there are still plenty of mysteries left for the DVD to solve. While fanboys would likely storm the shelves of their local retailer regardless of whether or not the DVD contained any special features, this jam-packed single-disc Standard Edition has more than enough extras to satisfy fans’ insatiable appetite for any and all info pertaining to “Cloverfield.”

When its trailer first premiered in front of last summer’s “Transformers,” the untitled pic was billed onscreen as “from producer J.J. Abrams,” but the “Cloverfield” DVD reveals director Matt Reeves as the man pulling the strings behind the curtain. The helmer handles his own audio commentary track like a seasoned pro, and though there are points where Abrams’ input would be much appreciated, if only to lend the listen a little back-and-forth.

Reeves is a more-than-capable storyteller whose informative anecdotes shed significant light on the secretive production. Although the media never gave Reeves the credit he deserved for “Cloverfield,” a potentially-classic monster movie as well as a truly original love story, it doesn’t seem to have bothered the director one bit, as his enthusiasm for the project is downright infectious.

Other featurettes such as “I Saw It! It’s Alive! It’s Huge!” and “Document 1.18.08: The Making of Cloverfield” gather Reeves’ main collaborators to discuss their vital contributions to the film, including cinematographer Michael Bonvillain, editor Kevin Stitt, production designer Martin Whist, lead creature designer Neville Page and several animators and compositors from VFX post-house Tippett Studio.

The three-and-a-half minutes worth of deleted scenes spend the majority of the time with Hud (T.J. Miller), the cameraman who serves as the audience’s point of view. There’s additional footage of Hud soliciting testimonials from Rob’s (Michael Stahl-David) friends at his farewell party, with Miller riffing alongside “Felicity” thesp Brian Klugman about advice for acquiring hentai porn in Japan.

Some of Drew Goddard’s screenplay’s humor was left on the cutting room floor when it didn’t fit tonally with the scene, including some innocent flirtation in the subway between Hud and Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) and a brief scene exploring the bond between Marlena and Lily (Jessica Lucas).

The highly-anticipated alternate endings are sadly overhyped, as not that much has really changed from the original ending. In the first, the film ends as Rob and Beth (Odette Yustman) run through a train station as they giddily anticipate the fun of going to Coney Island. In the second, we get a brief glimpse of a man (the actual camera operator) finding Rob’s camera and wiping dirt off its lens. Ultimately Reeves ditched the idea because he wanted people to focus on the young couple’s profession of love for each other rather than have the audience spend the last few moments of the film trying to decipher what happened to them and whether or not they were rescued.

In his commentary, Reeves casually notes how Steven Spielberg provided a faint whiff of resolution when he suggested the audience needs to know the fate of the monster. This led to the idea of the military countdown and the air sirens signaling Central Park as a blast zone. The director also credits Abrams for the last line in the film, “I had a good day,” which lends the proceedings a certain sad irony.

A gag reel of outtakes dubbed “Clover Fun” features more of Miller cracking up his costars and a plethora of party extras as they pantomime having a good time. In one, a crewmember interrupts a take as he returns from a coffee break. We also get an uncooperative lamppost that falls in slo-mo.

On the tech end, the disc’s transfer is excellent and its sharp contrast provides a pristine picture that doesn’t take away from the film’s authentic homevid feeling. (If the handheld camerawork makes some viewers nauseous, at least they can take comfort in the pause button and knowing their bathrooms are in close proximity.)

Sound effects are appropriately loud, sometimes to the detriment of the dialogue, but then again, who cares what the characters are shouting about? You just want to see stuff blow up, right?

The lack of any score may rile movie music buffs but their patience is rewarded with Michael Giacchino’s “Roar!” a terrific overture that plays over the nearly 10-minute long end credit sequence.

Previews include Abrams’ “Star Trek” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” though anyone even remotely interested in either of those blockbusters has surely already seen them.

Sadly, there is no teaser for “Cloverfield 2” though the prospect of a sequel is all but assured. While a double-dip Special Edition wouldn’t surprise anyone, Paramount has done an excellent job stuffing the single-disc release with worthwhile bonus features that should have no problem luring hardcore monster movie fans and enticing curious customers who may have skipped the film on the bigscreen.

Bonus fact: The production shot under several mysterious aliases including “Cheese” and “Slusho” and while Internet reports ran wild with theories about the film’s real title, Reeves and co. toyed with the idea of naming it “Greyshot” after the arch in Central Park that Rob and Beth take cover under during the climax, where Rob’s camera would presumably have been found. However, once the public came to know the film as “Cloverfield,” they decided they’d stick with it.

Other notable DVD releases for the week of April 22:


4/22; $29.99


A Paramount release.


AC-3, Color, Dolby. RUNNING TIME: 84 MIN.
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