I'm going to do something I hate to do, especially in a column devoted to the celebration of movie theaters. I'm going to tell you to see a movie, but I'm going to recommend you avoid it on the big screen and wait for video. Sure, it's been common practice since the invention of the VCR for critics to identify movies that are good enough to be seen on a television yet not necessarily worth the price of a movie ticket, but this is different. This isn't some un-cinematic, talky little film without the need for large-scale projection. It's a movie that has absolutely no business being shown in theaters. It's Cloverfield.
Unfortunately, I'm a bit late in my plea, and at least ten million people have seen this movie by the time this piece goes live (considering there's more than 300 million people living in the United States, it doesn't seem like as big a hit when looking at individual tickets sold). But just in case you've been waiting for the crowds to die down (or you're waiting for Marcus Theatres to begin showing it), I urge you to give it just a few more months. In no time Cloverfield will be available on DVD, HD DVD, iTunes and other more appropriate formats, and you can see it as it should be seen.
You may be thinking that my reasoning has to do with the nauseating effect the movie has on many theatrical audiences. Sure, Cloverfield is yet another movie that ignores the fact that auditoriums have seats situated really close to the screen, but I have nothing necessarily against shaky camera work. If I did, I wouldn't recommend you watch Breaking the Waves on the big screen rather than on a TV set. But despite the fact that that film also made close-seated viewers sick to their stomachs, it still completely belongs on the big screen. No, if I were writing this just because of the hand-held cinematography, I would simply do as other critics are doing and recommend you sit in the back (even if time and time again I complain about movies and formats that don't accommodate all moviegoers equally).