If Godzilla movies had ever aspired to be scary, they would have looked a lot like "Cloverfield." And I mean that as a compliment to "Cloverfield." It takes a monster movie theme we've seen all our lives -- giant monster crushes city -- and makes it tense and exciting, pretty much living up to all of my (very) high expectations.
For those who don't know, "Cloverfield" is about a group of friends whose Manhattan party gets crashed pretty fiercely by a 100 foot tall monster who I like to call Clyde. Clyde basically wrecks havoc while the partygoers -- and millions of other folks -- try to flee Manhattan and not to get eaten. It's a lot like Shark Week. While our heroes are fleeing, they videotape the whole thing, leading to lots of crazy camera angles and a strong recommendation from me not to sit in the front row.
While some people have complained about the camera work, I didn't find it too distracting it all. It was a lot like our vacation videos -- a little shaky, but steady and in focus when it comes to the important stuff.
The movie does a very good job creating a sense of being trapped on an island with no means of escape. The hand-held camera gimmick also creates an oppressive sense of being one of a million very small people fleeing a very large problem with lots and lots of shooting going on overhead. The sound is exceptional with the roars and thundering footsteps of Clyde amplified enough to echo deeply all around you. If you're on the fence about whether or not to see this movie and are thinking, "well, I'll just wait for DVD," don't do that. You've got to see this in a theater. The visuals and the sound simply demand it. Clyde demands it too and he's one bad motherfu -- Shut your mouth! I'm only talkin' 'bout Clyde. (That was a little Shaft homage to brighten our Mondays.)
I give "Clovefield" two big nerd things up. If you like monster movies and you like to be scared -- but not too scared -- it's a very good time. And now that I've seen the preview, let's hope J.J. Abrams next project, the new Star Trek movie, is just as fun.