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10 Cloverfield Lane Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) movie poster 10 Cloverfield Lane

Theatrical Release: March 11, 2016 / Running Time: 104 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Dan Trachtenberg / Writers: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken (story & screenplay); Damien Chazelle (screenplay)

Cast: John Goodman (Howard Stambler), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Michelle), John Gallagher, Jr. (Emmett DeWitt), Douglas M. Griffin (Driver), Suzanne Cryer (Woman), Bradley Cooper (voice of Ben), Sumalee Montano (Voice on Radio), Frank Mottek (Radio Broadcaster)

Buy 10 Cloverfield Lane from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD Instant Video

If you've given it any thought coming in, you may wonder for the majority of 10 Cloverfield Lane how this new film is connected to Cloverfield, the 2008 found footage monster movie.
Key personnel of that secretively-marketed, modestly-budgeted mild hit, including producer J.J. Abrams, director Matt Reeves, and screenwriter Drew Goddard, are credited among the producers here. But, although its full title slowly and deliberately grows out of the word "Cloverfield", Lane appears to be its own quite different thing: a single-setting mystery-thriller with no interest in beating the dead horse that is the found footage format.

Our film opens with an efficient and silent way of establishing its protagonist. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) hastily packs up her belongings and leaves an apartment. She gets a call from her boyfriend (an unrecognizable and unseen Bradley Cooper) pleading for her to return, but she is gone and has nothing else to say. Then, one jump scare and interwoven titles later, she finds herself hooked up to an IV drip and chained to a pipe in a dank basement.

Following a car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself chained down in the underground shelter of "10 Cloverfield Lane."

She meets her captor, who slides her a tray of food and expects some gratitude. He is an imposing man named Howard (John Goodman) and he explains he saved her from apocalypse above. She is safe in his purified, sealed bunker that is equipped with electricity and running water and full of provisions, DVDs and videocassettes, board games, and puzzles. Though Howard eases up on the leg chaining and locking her into her bedroom (a mattress on the floor), the more this Navy veteran says about the mysterious dangers lingering at the surface (to which he points out two dead pigs as proof) and his dead daughter, the more he seems like a certifiable lunatic.

The bunker houses one other person: a young man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who has voluntarily sought out Howard's shelter, having known him for a while. But he and Michelle come to doubt Howard's account and plan an escape.

For most of its runtime, 10 Cloverfield Lane kind of resembles John Carpenter's The Thing (whose poorly-performing remake starred Winstead) or for a more recent example Ex Machina, without such overt sci-fi as either. (There's a bit of a Room feel too, with our heroine slightly recalling the one played by new Oscar winner Brie Larson, who has separately worked with all three leads.) We are trying to read Howard along with his two guests and their digs, complete with jukebox and fish tank, do seem pretty lush compared to braving fallout up above, if that's really a thing, which it might be. There are secret plans, a tense and telling game of Charades, and some effective suspense involving Michelle venturing into the vents to restart a filtration system.

Howard (John Goodman) and his "guests" hear a clatter coming from above their underground bunker in "10 Cloverfield Lane."

It's all investable, functional, and fairly fresh, if not quite exceptional.
But, where you might reasonably expect the movie to end, it keeps going and answers that Cloverfield connection question you probably had long since forgotten. It's a 180-degree shift tonally, sure to disarm those who had been hooked by this claustrophobic slow burn and yet also disappoint those who came in wanting another Cloverfield-type movie. You do get something resembling the latter in this final act, but it's so tough to reconcile that with the completely different movie that has come before.

It's almost like someone came in and decided the movie needed a more powerful ending, at which point the Bad Robot gang decided why not tie this into Cloverfield, a property that was fairly well-received if not particularly well-remembered? You doubt that someone was Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle, yet no one else but he is credited separately from the story/screenwriter duo of Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken, who are new to writing but have major film credits in other fields. The fractured design is a bit of a head-scratcher, regardless of whether you prefer Cloverfield-esque action to the radically different, more plot-driven potboiler you mostly get here.

Though saddled with a kind of ridiculous wardrobe, Winstead is good enough to make you wonder why her career has kind of fizzled in recent years. Goodman is highly effective, making you wonder why he has avoided or not gotten a weightier role like this over often brief comic relief duties. Gallagher has some amusing moments in the tertiary role, one of his highest-profile to date. Making his feature directing debut with a fairly long resume that is void of recent credits, Dan Trachtenberg proves capable at the helm, though unable to get us through that abrupt transition in an even slightly smooth fashion.

10 Cloverfield Lane performed fairly well at the box office. Though it opened in a distant second behind a second weekend Zootopia, the movie went on to triple its first weekend take, finishing at $72 million domestic (but only grossing half as much from foreign markets). The ticket sales were good enough to rank the film tenth among 2016 releases by North American gross, trailing almost exclusively sequels, remakes, and pre-established brands (e.g. The Angry Birds Movie and Deadpool). The thriller hits home video this week in a barebones DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here.

10 Cloverfield Lane: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
BD: Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Descriptive Video Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese; BD movie-only: English SDH
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

10 Cloverfield Lane expectedly boasts the high quality picture and sound you expect of a major studio film in 2016. The 2.40:1 presentation is sharp and spotless, while the Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound mix is very active, enveloping with atmosphere and score while keeping dialogue crisp throughout. The Blu-ray's A/V leaves nothing to be desired.

First-timer Dan Trachtenberg directs John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in "Cloverfield Too." "Spin-Off" shows the hydraulic rig used to the perform and film the opening car flip.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer J.J. Abrams. It's impressive that Abrams could take the time to talk about this, given all he has had going on, but it is just under two hours, I guess. They offer a thoughtful talk that speaks to both what's on screen and how it got there. Plenty of interesting revelations crop up,
from the fact that Bradley Cooper recorded himself on his phone and e-mailed his performance in to the fact that they were using sides from Gallagher's Short Term 12 in casting to how effects were achieved practically or otherwise.

On the all-HD video side, we get a Featurettes section consisting of seven items and a "Play All" option with which they run 34 minutes and 42 seconds combined as one long, somewhat disjointed featurette.

"Cloverfield Too" (9:07) considers the film's premise and story. "Bunker Mentality" (3:48) covers the construction and design of the film's primary set. "Duck and Cover" (1:44) talks costume design as it pertains to the makeshift hazmat suit featuring in the film's climax. "Spin-Off" (3:52) considers the hydraulics work needed to create the film's opening crash.

Kelvin Optical edited, sound-mixed, and added VFX to "10 Cloverfield Lane" entirely in house. Bear McCreary discusses the element of his score in "Fine Tuned."

"Kelvin Optical" (6:07) admires the fact that the film was edited, sound mixed, and given VFX entirely in house at the titular Bad Robot production arm. "Fine Tuned" (6:42) touches on the film's score with remarks from composer Bear McCreary and looks at the orchestra recording. Finally, "End of Story" (3:19) explores the off-the-wall ending that links this to Cloverfield and supplies credits for all seven parts.

The DVD, which includes no bonus features at all,
opens with trailers for Star Trek Beyond, Ben-Hur, and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The same three things play from that disc's "Previews" menu and the Blu-ray currently streams the same automatically at disc insertion.

Both discs sport a scored, static main menu adapted from poster artwork.

The rare new release to show some creativity in the packaging department, 10 Cloverfield Lane is topped by a marketable floating heads slipcover which cuts off three-quarters of the way up in front to reveal the top of the different cover artwork below which is adapted from the poster design. The Digital HD insert is all that joins the two plain blue and gray discs inside the eco-friendly keepcase. (In another display of creativity, Paramount included a plastic bag with some puzzle pieces with the mailing. The perks of being a home video journalist!)

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) plans a great escape in "10 Cloverfield Lane."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I would feel comfortable recommending 10 Cloverfield Lane if it ended fifteen minutes earlier than it does. Up until that point, the film engages as a thoughtful single-setting thriller. Then, it becomes something entirely different that befits the title but not the self-contained story it had been telling.

Paramount's combo pack delivers a flawless feature presentation plus some solid extras on Blu-ray. The movie is still worth a watch, especially for those who prefer their horror with thinking and psychology than lots of violence and blood.

Buy 10 Cloverfield Lane from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Cloverfield Room | New to Disc: Hail, Caesar! Zootopia Gods of Egypt Zoolander 2 Regression
Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World A.C.O.D. Sky High
John Goodman: The Gambler Argo Flight Inside Llewyn Davis The Monuments Men Love the Coopers The Big Lebowski
John Gallagher, Jr.: The Newsroom: The Complete First Season Margaret Whatever Works

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Reviewed June 13, 2016.



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