Who's in It:
Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, Odette Yustman, Mike Vogel
The Basics: A going-away party for a young New Yorker on his way to Japan turns into a nightmare when something attacks Manhattan. If you don't know any more than that, then I won't be spoiling it for you. In fact, this will be a spoiler-free review.
What's the Deal? To whom at Paramount Pictures do I send a cookie bouquet? Because they deserve one. And it's not just because it's a January release, and all the other movies coming out now are crap. They could have made this a December gimme-an-Oscar movie and put up for-your-consideration ads and probably gotten some awards play. That's how mind-blowingly great it is.
Why It Works: A cast of relative unknowns, a less-is-more approach to viewing the "something" that's causing the destruction, stealing all the right stuff from all the right sources (Blair Witch, The Poseidon Adventure, every Michael Bay things-are-blowing-up movie, some others whose titles I can't mention or I'd be blowing my no-spoilers rule) and a commitment to making sure that the PG-13 rating doesn't automatically mean a horror movie is going to suck. I came out of my chair more than a couple times. It's that exciting and scary.
Where to Sit: Unless you have an affinity for those theme park rides that spin you in a million directions, I recommend being as far away from the screen as possible. It's all hand-held camera and earthquake-shaky. For motion-sickness-prone people like myself, that requires special consideration. I sat in the far back row.
Who Shouldn't See It: New Yorkers who might have had to actually run for their lives on 9/11. It never mentions that day, but some of the imagery is familiar. So be warned.