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Picks and Pans Review: Cloverfield

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Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas | PG-13

MONSTER-ON-THE-LOOSE

Producer J.J. Abrams (Lost) fed the hype by keeping his creature feature under wraps. Here’s a cheat sheet:

The plot: Bland twentysomethings gather for a party. It’s cut short when an angry giant monster begins destroying Manhattan.

The gimmick: The whole film is composed of footage supposedly shot by a main character using a camcorder. (Think The Blair Witch Project; you may experience motion sickness.)

Gasp-worthy moment: The Statue of Liberty’s decapitated head, lying on the street.

Final call: Delivers chills early on, but the lackluster characters are inarticulate and the obvious 9/11 references (people covered in ash, downtown Manhattan destroyed) seem disturbingly exploitative.