Release Date(s)2016 (January 23, 2018)
Studio(s)Bad Robot (Paramount Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C-
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a young woman fleeing a bad relationship by driving cross-country from New Orleans. During her drive, she begins hearing reports of blackouts across the Southeast but ignores them in her emotional state. After stopping at a gas station that night, she’s continuing on her way when she’s involved in a highway accident that sends her car off the road and leaves her unconscious. Michelle wakes up hours later to find herself chained to a bed in an underground bunker. She soon meets Howard (John Goodman), a strange 60-something man who claims to have saved her, not only from the car wreck, but from some kind of strange nuclear or biological attack that he claims has happened outside. Also living underground is a young man named Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr), who apparently helped Howard to build the bunker. After an uneasy start, the trio’s odd relationship becomes more and more relaxed. But soon, Howard’s eccentric house rules turn weird, then disturbing, and Michelle and Emmet begin plotting their escape.
10 Cloverfield Land is an effectively creepy and tense psychological thriller, and while its connection to the previous Cloverfield film (reviewed here) is not immediately obvious, just go with it and you’ll be rewarded with an intriguing film experience that starts out as one thing and takes a series of increasingly unusual twists. Really, if you haven’t seen it, the less said about the film the better, except that Winstead, Goodman, and Gallagher all turn in solid performances. Goodman, especially, is genuinely unsettling. And Trachtenberg’s direction is deft and imaginative, especially for a relative newcomer, making good use of the film’s highly claustrophobic interior setting. Bear McCreary, best known for his fine contributions to TV’s Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead, adds a minimalist but effective score.
10 Cloverfield Lane was shot digitally in the Redcode RAW codec (6K) using Red Epic Dragon cameras with Panavision anamorphic lenses (which reduce the actual used sensor area to about 4K) and finished to a 2K Digital Intermediate. After upscaling and color grades in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, the film is presented here on 4K Ultra HD at the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. This is definitely a case where the higher resolution capture doesn’t make as much of a difference as you might expect, as the optics and low lighting reduce perceived image resolution quite a bit. There’s still good fine detail and texturing, particularly on faces, which lends itself to the claustrophobic subject matter. Contrast is good too, with deep but detailed blacks. Whichever HDR format you view, the colors are rich and varied, and the brightest areas of the image are bright indeed. Overall though, this is a solid (but not especially outstanding) 4K image.
Audio is included on the 4K disc in an English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD compatible) mix that enhances the previous Blu-ray soundtrack with a bit of additional atmosphere and more precise staging. Given that most of this film is a 3-person table drama, the mix isn’t aggressive, but rather gives you a better sense of the confined space they’re in. The height channels are used quite creatively, as sounds from the outside world leak into the underground bunker, advancing the drama and tension. Of course, the film’s final scenes do give the mix a chance to really show its muscle and then the mix is impressive indeed. Clarity is excellent at all times. Additional audio options are available in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Digital as well as English Descriptive Audio, with optional subtitles in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
Extras-wise, the actual 4K disc includes only an audio commentary with Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams. The package also includes the previously-released Blu-ray edition which offers the film in 1080p HD and the following bonus features (all in HD):
- Audio Commentary with director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams
- Cloverfield Too (9:07)
- Bunker Mentality (3:48)
- Duck and Cover (1:44)
- Spin-Off (3:52)
- Kelvin Optical (6:07)
- Fine Tuned (6:42)
- End of Story (3:19)
The commentary is interesting, but the rest of the extras are a behind-the-scenes sampler at best. They almost seem an afterthought. As always, you also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert in the packaging.
10 Cloverfield Lane is an interesting film that adds a very different flavor to the Cloverfield franchise, such as it is. It’s edgy, disquieting, and manages to repeatedly increase its tension – in ways both expected and otherwise – from start to finish. Paramount’s 4K UHD release is solid, and a decent upgrade of the previous Blu-ray, but it’s probably one you’ll want to pick up on sale.
- Bill Hunt