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Cloverfield cover

Blu-ray Reviews: Cloverfield

Originally published in Sound and Image, Nov/Dec 2008, v.22#2
Last updated 27 June 2009

2008 - Paramount Home Entertainment (Australasia) Pty Ltd
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel and Odette Yustman

Movie: 4.5 Picture: 5 Sound: 5 Extras: 5

Take Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project and you have Cloverfield. Except that Cloverfield is immeasurably better than the former. I could go on for a while, but I suggest that you get ahold of this movie, abandon expectations and enjoy.

When you do that getting ahold, consider going for the Blu-ray. The jittery, handheld camera work could stress out many compression systems but even though the movie is only 85 minutes long, some 36.4GB of the disc is occupied. The VC1 codec has been used for video, and if there were any artefacts at all, they escaped my attention.

The sound was brilliant. The Dolby TrueHD sound runs at a bitrate typically above four megabits per second, which would imply that 24 bit resolution has been used. The bass especially, was hugely extended. What's really impressive is not a deep bass thud when your senses are being assaulted by the wide bandwidth of a directly recorded explosion. What impresses is when the explosion is muted and filtered by intervening structures and barriers, so that you hear only the bass component of thud which manages to make it through. There's a lot of that here, and the better your subwoofer the more you're going to enjoy it.

There is one criticism of the sound: the conceit of the movie is that the whole thing is recorded on one character-held video camera. The sound is too good for that.

Then there are the extras. All the main extras are in full high definition, either 1080i or 1080p, and are quite informative. There are also a number of clips (most in SD) available as Easter Eggs. Google to find those. There is also a bookmarking feature: press 'B' to mark a place. On another day, go to 'Scenes' and then select 'Bookmarks' to jump to the position you want.

Most interesting, though, is the Special Investigation Mode. This places the movie in a largish window at the top right of the screen, places a map of Manhattan on the left, with coloured markers showing the positions of the life-forms of interest, and in two boxes at the bottom shows occasional radar readouts and explanations, along with background information on the story. This looks like a PIP feature, but it still worked with a Grace Period player, so I investigated further. I thought that perhaps there was an SD version of the movie on the disc. I examined each of the .m2ts files on the disc greater than 200MB in size, and there was no standard definition copy of the movie there, so it seems that even basic Blu-ray players must have sufficient picture processing grunt to scale a picture down and overlay it with at least moderately intensive graphics.

Running time: 85 minutes
Picture: 1.78:1, 1080p24, VC1 @ 30.43Mbps
Sound: English: Dolby TrueHD 24/48 3/2.1 @ 3463kbps (Core: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps); French, Spanish: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; Commentary: Dolby Digital Surround 2/0.0 @ 192kbps
Subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Features: Bookmarks; 'Special Investigation Mode' playback; Two Alternate Endings with optional commentary (1080p24, VC1, DD2.0 & DPL 2.0 @ 192kbps - 4 mins); Bloopers: 'Clover Fun' (1080p24, VC1, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 4 mins); Four Deleted Scenes with optional commentary (1080p24, VC1, DD2.0 & DPL 2.0 @ 192kbps - 3 mins); Three Featurettes (1080p24, VC1, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 57 mins); Ten Easter Egg video clips (Mixed HD/SD - 18 mins)
Restrictions: Rated M (Australian rating); Region Free

This is the video bitrate graph for this movie, generated by BDInfo 0.5.2:

Cloverfield video bitrate graph

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