posted January 25, 2008 02:13:00 PM CST | 31 comments

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Everyoneís gathered for Robís surprise going-away party. Lily (Jessica Lucas, the cutest in the bunch of relative newbies) is there. Robís (Michael Stahl-David) brother, Jason (Mike Vogel), is there. Hud (T.J. Miller), Robís best friend and the guy chronicling the night behind a camcorder, is there. Other well wishers whoíve come to bid ado to their pal before he leaves for a job in Japan are just having a grand olí time. Beth (Odette Yustman), Robís secret crush, also shows up. Only she brings some dude with her.

Hud and Jason try to offer their boy some support, but before they can get to the heart of theÖ Boom! Thereís a huge explosion. People scramble to the roof to see what all the commotion is about. A bellow of smoke engulfs a skyscraper off in the distance. Is it 9/11 all over again? Bang! Another Manhattan-rattling blast. This time folks scamper to the streets. Hudís still holding the camcorder, capturing every stumble and jerk for you in the theatre. Out of nowhere, the Statue of Libertyís head comes hurling down the block. This moment is over-the-top and out-of-this-world, all in the same gasp. Clearly, this ainít the work of Bin Laden. This is something thatís been hiding and feels its time to strike humans is right now. The masses, scurrying to get off the island, pack the Brooklyn Bridge. Either the shear weight of escapees topples the landmark or the thing terrorizing the city makes it crumble. Whatever the cause, Jason and countless others die in the carnage.

If you havenít gotten nauseous with all the screams and the screenís incessant jittering by this point, you probably wonít. And thatís good news because youíll need all of your bodily facilities in working order for this movie. Instances of fear, humor and angst sometimes happen within seconds of each other. Emotionally, this ride is a lot. Like World Trade Center, Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project all spliced into a single, action-packed flick, Cloverfield works a number of your every neuron. Romantics will feel for Robís selfless quest to find Beth alive in her destroyed apartment. Sci-fi nuts will go ape shit over the monster thingy knocking over 200-story buildings like Jenga blocks. Cinematography buffs will probably construct a shrine in honor of director Matt Reeves and producer J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost) for their stunning, headache-inducing visuals.

This gloomy movie initially got pub for its grassroots internet marketing. Itíll earn a spot on the shelf next to other well-done apocalyptic fare of late like The Mist and I Am Legend for its dark, canít-look-away tone. If what Hollywood says in pictures like Cloverfield is true, the end may be near. Get on your knees. Read Nostradamus. Say some Hail Marys. Do whatever it is you gotta do for a peace of mind. For this one, youíll just want to make sure to have some buttered popcorn beside you while youíre doing it.

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