Remember back in 2007 when Transformers came out, there was a preview for this movie that only showed a brief clip of a party going on and then came the attack and the Statue of Liberty's head being tossed across the street, and no name was given for the movie AT ALL? Now that's how you advertise for a found footage movie - you don't give anything away. All of us who watched this preview literally went crazy trying to figure out the premise of this movie and what JJ Abrams and the others were doing.
Plot: A big party is planned for Robert "Rob" Hawkins, who is leaving NYC to go to Japan as Vice-President until it is erupted with unusual but ground shaking roars as a creature attacks the city and is caught on tape as Rob and his friends try to escape Manhattan. Also, let's not forget the subplot where Rob also goes on a rescue mission to save his girlfriend who is trapped inside her home after the monster makes it's grand appearance.
Though it looks a little cliched with what they used in the story, the people behind this movie make it a little more interesting by adding the found footage style and leaving out any details about Clover's (the monster) origins.
Acting: I really didn't care so much for the acting, but I feel pretty mixed towards TJ Miller's character, Hud. Sure, he's the dude you turn to for comic relief in the worst case scenarios, but he kind of gets on my nerves sometimes. Michael Stahl-David should be in more movies like this, but I feel he's more comfortable with working on independent movies. Lizzy Caplan also did great as well, especially the scene where she is brought into quarantine. Really terrifying moment. So, I'd have to say the acting was so-so to good.
Cinematography: Looking at the movie a couple of times, it looked like a cinematic Hollywood movie more than found footage at first, but later became more fond of it when the camera keeps cutting away from the action, adding a more realistic look, as if you were watching through the perspective of a survivor.
VFX: I'm surprised nobody complained about the CGI in this movie. Excellent work with Clover, the parasites, and the destruction throughout this movie. Maybe up and coming directors who have an interest in making sci-fi movies like this or Transformers can learn from something like Cloverfield or The Matrix and so forth.
Directing: Matt Reeves actually did well in directing the movie. He really put a lot of hard work (JJ Abrams as well) into keeping Cloverfield a mystery and brought out genuine terror and real human emotion from the cast. Matt Reeves then went on to make Let Me In and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Excellent job, Matt!
Overall: This is one of the found footage movies I've actually enjoyed. I really wish that there was a sequel to this movie, showing it through the perspective of the military or how the monster was found. I also wish more found footage movies were marketed the way Cloverfield was, since it actually gives people plenty of thrills and curiosity for a long time rather than making it temporary and they get bored afterwards.