CLOVERFIELD on DVD and Blu-ray
On the eve of his departure for Japan, Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) sees his going-away party as an opportunity to confess unresolved feelings and tie up loose ends. His agenda takes an unexpected turn when a jolt shakes the revelers.
The crowd quiets down to watch news reports of an earthquake, then rushes to the roof to assess the damage. A fireball explodes on the distant horizon. A power failure follows. Confusion gives way to panic as the partygoers stumble through the blackout and into the streets.
Amid the human screams and one inhuman roar, Rob and his friends must traverse a landscape that has changed, overtaken by something otherworldly, terrifying, monstrous…
On July 3, 2007 Paramount Pictures’ blockbuster hit TRANSFORMERS opened in more than 4,000 theaters across the United States. Among the multitude of commercials and previews before the film, Paramount included a trailer for an unnamed monster movie from JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot. Beginning with a party and ending with the decapitated head of the Staue of Liberty smashing into a New York City street, the trailer captivated audiences and caused a wave of internet searches for any information about the mystery production. Rumors also began to fly, with some suggesting the upcoming picture would be a sequel to TriStar’s 1998 GODZILLA remake, a new story based on HP Lovecraft’s Chthulu mythos, or a live action VOLTRON movie.
Bad Robot Productions made the most of the buzz by slowly teasing viewers over the months leading up the film’s January 18, 2008 release. The movie’s title CLOVERFIELD— taken from the Santa Monica street where the production company was based— was hinted at, then finally confirmed. Bad Robot also launched the CLOVERFIELD online Alternate Reality Game (ARG), a mix of clues and puzzles that slowly filled in bits of the film’s backstory. Rob Hawkins, the main CLOVERFIELD characters (Marlena Diamond, Lily Ford, JJ Hawkins, Beth McIntyre, and Hud Platt) and Jamie Lascano— a guest at Rob’s going-away party— all have their own MySpace pages. There was also an official website, 1-18-08.com, which posted seemingly random photos that eventually directed fans to another site, Jamie and Teddy. That site featured 11 video postcards made by Jamie Lascano for her boyfriend, Teddy Hanssen, an underground member of the extremist environmentalist group T.I.D.O. Wave.
In one of the videos, Jamie plays an audio tape in which Teddy claims he has been captured while infiltrating the Chuai Offshore Drilling Station, a facility owned by the Tagruato Corporation, a Japanese conglomerate accused of damaging the environment. Following Teddy’s disappearance, his sister Alyse Hanssen posted a blog asking for help in finding him. Alyse’s blog led to yet another site, usgx8810b467233px.com (username: alysehanssen, password: 11112014349), that features grainy black and white photos of strange deep sea creatures. Not so coincidentally, one of Tagruato’s many products is Slusho!, a Slurpee-like drink containing an addictive property called Seabed’s Nectar that is mined from undersea trenches. The Slusho website contains the phrase, “Slusho! makes my stomach explode with happiness!” Tagruato also owned a satellite, the ChimpanzIII, that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean not long before the events in the film.
While the viral marketing crew kept leading fans all over the internet, JJ Abrams and director Matt Reeves focused on the movie. The filmmakers were inspired by Godzilla’s iconic status in Japan, and their intention was to take the relevance of the original GODZILLA (Gojira, 1954) and transcribe it to the modern age where everyone has a video camera or camera phone.
By handling the monster’s— affectionately called “Clover” by the crew, and the “Large Scale Aggressor (LSA)” by the military— rampage from a first person perspective, CLOVERFIELD successfully created an immediacy that parallelled the average person’s reaction to a real world disaster or terrorist attack. The confusion and terror was a powerful shift from the genre cliches of scientists and military leaders determining the monster’s origins and how to save the day. Much like the original GODZILLA, CLOVERFIELD works has both a metaphor and a good monster movie.
In its opening weekend, CLOVERFIELD broke January box office records. The film had a very successful theatrical run, taking in $170,532,558 worldwide… a tremendous profit considering the production budget was only $25 million. While the movie annoyed some who hated the shakey camerawork or wanted everything to be explained and spoon-fed to them, the audience and critical response was generally very positive. On June 24, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films’ annual Saturn Awards named CLOVERFIELD “Best Science Fiction Film” and presented director Matt Reeves with their Filmmakers Showcase Award.
Paramount’s CLOVERFIELD DVD presents the film in the original 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and features English, French, and Spanish audio tracks in 5.1 Dolby Digital. There are 16 chapter stops. Given its “hand held” style, the movie looks and sounds as good as one could hope for. CLOVERFIELD also comes with a nice selection of extras.
Commentary by Director Matt Reeves: In an informative and entertaining feature-length commentary, Reeves discusses the development of the film, how he was hired to direct, the casting process, concerns over getting the movie done on budget, working with the visual effects, location shooting, how a line from the trailer was misheard and started rumors that CLOVERFIELD was going to be a VOLTRON movie, the excellent Toho-inspired musical overture by Michael Giacchino, and the last line spoken in the film.
Document 01.18.08: The Making of CLOVERFIELD: A comprehensive look at the creation of the movie, from JJ Abrams being inspired by Godzilla’s popularity in Japan to the last day of filming in New York. The documentary includes interviews with Abrams, Matt Reeves, executive producer Sherryl Clark, editor Kevin Stitt, fx coordinator David Waine, producer Bryan Burk, fx supervisors Josh Haklan and Kevin Blank, animal trainer Tom Gundeson, animatronic fx supervisor Andrew Clement, assistant technical supervisor Tom Minder, director of photography Michael Bonvillain, stunt coordinator Rob King, production designer Martin Whist, and many of the main cast and supporting players. Running time 28:15.
CLOVERFIELD Visual Effects: Reeves and the filmmakers discuss how green screen, CGI, and editing techniques were combined to create the first person pov of a giant monster attack. In addition to Reeves, the documentary inlcudes interviews with Abrams, Clark, Burk, Bonvillain, Stitt, Whist, visual fx producer Chantal Feghali, visual fx supervisors Michael Ellis and Kevin Blank, computer graphics supervisor David Vickery, MAYA technical director Diego Trazzi, technical directors Dalia Al-Husseini, Pawel Grochola, and Phil Johnson, pre-vizsupervisor Nicholas Markel, visual fx producer Annie Pomeranz, digital matte painter Ben Von Zastrow, matchmove supervisors Devin Breese and Sam Schwier, animation supervisor Tom Gibbons, fx artist Adrain Thompson, compositing supervisor Chris Morley, 3D texture painter August Dizon, character setup animator Eric Jeffrey, and lead fx animator Joseph Hamdorf. Running time 22:28.
I Saw It! It’s Alive! It’s Huge!: The featurette focuses on creature designer Neville Page and the creation of the Cloverfield monster. Page discusses how the monster was inspired by Godzilla, the decisions behind the beast’s appearance and movement, and what motivated its onscreen behavior. Also interviewed are Abrams, Burk, Reeves, and Tippett Studio visual fx supervisor Eric Levin. One great bonus to this featurette is that it provides a much clearer look at the monster than was provided in the film. Running time 5:50.
Clover Fun: Bloopers and outtakes. Running time 3:55.
Deleted Scenes: Four cut scenes with optional commentary by Matt Reeves. In “Congrats Rob” two girls from the party leave a funny video message for Rob. “When You’re in Japan” has party guest Charlie (Brian Klugman) recommending the best kinds of Japanese anime porn. “I Call That a Date” has some humorous flirtation between Hud and Marlena, while “It’s Going to Hurt” shows Marlena and Lily giving each other some emotional support. None of these scenes would have greatly affected the story of CLOVERFIELD but could have provided some additional characterization and fleshed out the film’s short running time. The combined deleted scenes run 3:32.
Alternate Endings: Two very minor variations on the Coney Island video footage in the final scene. In the optional audio commentary, Matt Reeves explains why the shots were not used in the film. Combined running time 4:32.
Previews: Trailers for INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL and JJ Abrams’ upcoming STAR TREK relaunch. Disappointingly, the CLOVERFIELD trailer that created so much interest last summer is not included on the DVD.
In keeping with CLOVERFIELD’s pattern of secrets and mysterious tie-ins, the DVD contains a wealth of oddball hidden features that can be uncovered with a bit of detective work (or checking the multitude of online news and fan sites).
Rack ‘Em & Pack ‘Em: On the Set Up Menu, select Español in the Subtitle Options. Press the right arrow. A red helicopter icon will appear onscreen. Press Enter for a 1:54 montage of CLOVERFIELD cast and crew members repeating Lt. Colonel Graff’s (Chris Mulkey) line, “Rack ‘em and pack ‘em…we’re phantoms in 15!”
Fighting the X: From the Scene Selection Menu, select 09-12 and press Enter. Highlight Scene 10 and press the up arrow. A red X will appear in the upper right corner of the screen. Press Enter to see a pre-fx version of the parasite subway attack, with green X’s as placeholders for the creatures’ positions in the final film. Running time 1:23.
Supplemental Files: The main easter eggs are the Supplemental Files in the hidden Chapter 17. From the Scene Selection Menu, select 13-16 and press Enter. Wait 1:17 and a Scene 17 icon will appear onscreen. Press Enter for a list of government files from the CLOVERFIELD online Alternate Reality Game. Not all the Supplemental Files are active; only those that end in VD can be accessed.
USGX-8810-B467-13VD: Alpha Encounter- UNCONFIRMED: Four fake news reports covering the destruction of the Tagruato Chuai Offshore Drilling Station, one each in English, Spanish, French, and Japanese. The combined running time is approximately 10:22.
USGX-8810-B467-34VD: Org. of Interest: A faux Slusho website. Select the last button to see a bizarre Slusho commercial (1:04).
USGX-8810-B467-144VD: Person of Interest- JLVD: Selecting file 144VD leads to a list of 11 “Jamie and Teddy” videos. Videos 2, 5, 9, and 11 can be played for a combined running time of 6:23. All 11 videos are available at the Jamie and Teddy website by clicking on the teddy bear photo and entering the password jllovesth.
In recent years, the major national stores chains have offered “retailer exclusive” versions of some movie titles. The DVD release of CLOVERFIELD continues that trend of with no less than five different editions. The actual DVD contents are identical for all the retailer exclusive versions, but each comes with its own distinct bonus feature.
For Suncoast and FYE stores (as well as Future Shop in Canada), CLOVERFIELD comes packaged in a “steel book” metal case. The list price is $26.91.
Sears and Kmart customers will get a free Cloverfield Ringtone with their DVD purchase. The list price is $29.98.
For anyone more interested in music, Target has the CLOVERFIELD Target Deluxe Edition (list $29.99) which comes shrinkwrapped with the “Rob’s Goin’ To Japan Party Mix!” CD. The music track list includes:
1. “Here It Goes Again” (OK GO)
2. “Ooh La La” (Goldfrapp)
3. “West Coast” (Coconut Records)
4. “Got Your Moments (Scissors for Lefty)
5. “Turning Japanese” (The Vapors)
6. “Give Up The Funk” (Parliament)
7. “Wraith Pinned To The Mist” (Of Montreal)
8. “Do I Have Your Attention?” (The Blood Arm)
9. “Four Winds” (Bright Eyes)
Content-wise, the best bet for CLOVERFIELD fans is probably Best Buy’s Exclusive Edition ($29.98) which comes shrinkwapped with a bonus DVD entitled TJ MILLER’S VIDEO DIARY. The extra disc contains almost 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage with the actor who played “Hud”. The Best Buy Canada edition ($25.99) also comes with an additional cardboard sleeve featuring new artwork.
The Blu-ray version of CLOVERFIELD went on sale June 3. In addition to the higher picture resolution, the film comes with English audio and subtitles, French audio and subtitles, Portuguese subtitles, and Spanish audio and subtitles in 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. The Blu-ray comes with all the extras of the standard DVD plus an extra “Special Investigation Mode” supplemental feature. In the Investigation Mode, the viewer can monitor the positions of the Large Scale Aggressor, the Human Subjects, and Primary Military Activity on a map of Manhattan Island. The feature also presents a stream of military report factoids such as:
The Large Scale Aggressor (LSA) is estimated to stand between 240 and 300 feet tall in it quadruped pose, and possibly up to 1,200 feet in length, from head to tail. Its weight is estimated at 5806.04 metric tons.
Preliminary blood samples from Human Scale Parasites showed high levels of Katei No Mitsu (“Seabed’s Nectar”), the key ingredient in Tagruato’s Slusho! beverage.
This Blu-ray feature almost plays as a reward to fans who put so much effort into learning every detail about CLOVERFIELD.
The DVD and Blu-ray editions of CLOVERFIELD are highly recommended.
For more information on CLOVERFIELD please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan: