Cloverfield producer J.J. Abrams said that he got the original idea for his newest film while promoting Mission: Impossible III in Japan. The barrage of Godzilla toys that he spotted triggered something in his mind, and thus, a blockbuster was born.

2008’s first big disaster flick is shot completely from the vantage point of a character named Hud (played by comedian T.J. Miller). He and the other victims (Lizzy Caplan as Marlena, Jessica Lucas as Lily and Mike Vogel as Jason) are introduced via a going-away party held for Rob (Michael Stahl-David).

The get-together is your average über-cool, lower east side Manhattan fête – until disaster strikes. Something gnarly begins to wreak havoc on the city. The trouble is, no one knows what’s going on.

Cloverfield’s P.O.V. camera angles are a great gimmick that hasn’t been executed this well since 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. However, it does take a minute or two to feel a part of its action.

Between the slightly stilted dialogue and corny 20-something drama (compliments of a yawn-out-loud sub plot involving Rob and his lady friend, Beth), one does have to grin and bear some minor moments in the movie. Then, there’s the annoying fact that, once again, filmmakers have decided to [insert disaster scenario here] in New York City. Cloverfield could just as easily have taken place in Los Angeles or Seattle and been equally entertaining.

However, many things about it work extremely well. Once this horror movie gets its sea legs, it ravages viewers like the gigantic flesh-eating monster that it is. The action and special effects are eerie and flawless. But, ultimately, it’s Cloverfield’s ironic ending that elevates this project from clever diversion to cinematic masterpiece.

Grade: A

Cloverfield is currently in theaters.