Works as a showcase for impressively realistic-looking special effects, a realism that fails to extend to the scurrying humans whose fates are meant to invoke pity and fear but instead inspire yawns and contempt.
Cloverfield captures the chronic self-absorption of the Facebook generation with breathless, cleverly recycled media savvy, and then it stomps that self-absorption to death. These days, that's entertainment.
The mechanism is the message in Cloverfield, a movie so aluminum-sleek, ultra-portable, and itsy-bitsy sexy, it's amazing Steve Jobs didn't pull it out of an envelope at Macworld.
We've sat through that kind of movie again and again, but we've never sat through anything with Cloverfield's subjective sting. You'd have to be tougher than I was not to be blown sideways by it.
The fleeting, incomplete glimpses of the monster early on prove the old dictum of B-movie auteur Val Lewton that a momentary image can have greater impact than a prolonged one.