At this point,if you have been on the Internet the past year, its no surprise that there is a going away party for "Rob" and a monster attacks New York City. The first 20 minutes of the film are wasted with our cameraman "documenting" the farewell party of a character none of us at this point knows, or cares about. Once he arrives we learn of a troubled relationship with his ex who shows up at the party with a new beau to wish him a fond farewell. Boring dialog gets the viewer to almost the point of getting out and walking out of the theater then suddenly the big payoff occurs! That being exactly what we have all seen in the trailer.
Now we get the running, and the screaming, and the camera shaking. For some reason the group heads into the subway, then they decide to go save Rob's ex. They find her in a building, (leaning against another building?) and there is a big to do to save her, the army can't beat the monster, and we get fleeting glimpses of it until somehow they end up right underneath the monster who looks like some kind of giant man spider? And that is Cloverfield. No explanation of where it came from, what its motives are, or why we should care about the fate of these individuals. Cloverfield is over at a brisk pace and the end can come none too soon.
Now apparently the viewer is supposed to be so enthralled by the action on screen that they come home and research everything they can about "the monster" on the internet. And there is a plethora of "secrets" and information out there, both official and fan speculated. This kind of movie experience is great, and is certainly the future of entertainment being an "ongoing" and evolving experience. But the viewer is left simply not caring about a back story that should have been told on the screen. A big easter egg is that "something hits the water" in the last few moments of the film where we get a quick flashback to happier times for our protagonist and his ex, but so what?
The acting isn't bad. In this type of cinema verite (think COPS) style, the actors do come off as genuinely scared, concerned and real. The problem is with lack of any character development due to the pieces of buildings constantly being hurled at them, there is nothing to care about in terms of their fate. You could have thrown in 5 other main characters with a different life story and the movie would not have changed.
Cloverfield will appeal to the YouTube generation, used to quick, cheap thrills and bad camera work. It is never thought provoking, the monster is a let down, and there is no real reason to watch it again (or as the producers hope, stay involved in the viral marketing online). As easily as the monster "Flick"ed the head off the statue of liberty, this movie gets flicked DOWN to the worst disappointment of 2008 (so far).