10 Cloverfield Lane 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Michelle drives down the road at night. On the radio, there is talk of blackouts across the region. Distracted by an incoming call, she collides with a truck, sending her car off the freedom to tumble into a field below. When she wakes, she is in a small concrete room chained to the wall.
Michelle’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, THE HOLLARS) attempts to free herself or make outside contact are stopped. In enters Howard (John Goodman, in a remarkable and complex performance; this is some of his finest work). “What are you going to do to me?” she asks. He replies, “I’m going to keep you alive.”
Howard warns that there was an attack—chemical or nuclear, he’s unsure. What he is confident of is that the bunker of his farmhouse is the safest place to be. He assures Michelle he saved her, but can’t convince her that the dangers outside are unprecedented. Also housed in the bunker is Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr., 2013’s SHORT TERM 12), a man who may be brainwashed or may believe or may have seen the attack himself.
Howard’s fallout shelter runs on specifics. Don’t waste water. Time your bathroom breaks. Don’t touch each other. Don’t enter this room…It is not long before Michelle—as well as the audience—wonders whether the dangers are outside of the bunker or inside.
There are a series of questions raised and a stream of uncertainties throughout 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, the directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg and product of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. It is this that primarily carries the film, and as Michelle’s terror builds, Emmett’s loyalties shift and Howard’s determination reigns, the viewer’s uneasiness amasses, at times nearly reaching the brim.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is not, as one may suspect or even hope, a sequel to 2008’s CLOVERFIELD. Instead, it is what producer J.J. Abrams calls a “spiritual successor.” Does this mean that whatever is outside of the bunker (if anything) is similar to that of the monster featured in CLOVERFIELD? Or that the events occur somewhere along the same timeline as those that occurred in New York City? Or that it also works as an allegory for post-9/11 fears and paranoia? Some questions raised could be answered prior to release. Others cannot be answered even after viewing the film multiple times. (One apparent tie-in is the drink Slusho!, featured in CLOVERFIELD and its accompanying market campaign, which appears early on.)
Due to its title, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE could hardly stand by itself when it was announced. Now, it can be viewed as something that is its own entity. It is a stellar achievement, with so little used (more or less one location; a cast of more or less three; a budget of $15 million) to accomplish so much. Trachtenberg astonishes with his debut, creating a claustrophobic work that is tense in every scene, smart in its subtleties and careful not to reveal until absolutely necessary.
Note: the 4K part of this review was done by Brad Sturdivant
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: Detail improvements on the 4K UHD of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE are minimal at best. Presumably upconverted from the 2K master, this falls victim to many of the pitfalls you see in other upconversions, where you get a handful of upgrades in closeups and backgrounds, but nothing that’s going to wow you. The biggest improvements in the video come from the HDR. Paramount has fully embraced Dolby Vision and while the merits of DV over standard HDR will continue to be debated, I have found that viewing Paramount titles with a standard HDR set bring out the colors very well and offer improvements in color details throughout and that’s true with 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. There’s nothing striking about 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, but the 4K UHD does offer some improvements that fans of the film should appreciate.
Audio: The same Dolby Atmos track from the Blu-ray is included on the 4K.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams: Trachtenberg and Abrams offer a wonderful commentary in which they discuss the origins, story, characters, settings, themes and much more of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE.
CLOVERFIELD Too (9:07): Trachtenberg, Abrams, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and more discuss the plot, cast/crew and some of the similarities/differences to its predecessor.
Bunker Mentality (3:48) covers the design of Howard’s shelter.
Duck and Cover (1:44): This brief featurette looks at a key costume in the movie.
Spin-Off (3:52): Here, some of the practical effects are highlighted.
Kelvin Optical (6:07) puts the spotlight on the branch of Bad Robot that incorporates visual effects.
Fine Tuned (6:42) looks at and listens to the contributions of composer Bear McCreary.
End of Story (3:19): This featurette briefly covers the originality of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and its connections to CLOVERFIELD, as well as the cast’s excitement to be involved.