Shot entirely from the POV of a hand-held digicam initially being used to make a home-video, the movie takes us through the disaster that NY faces through the experiences of a small group of youths. So while the camera focuses on the bunch of three-four friends, the backdrop shows us what we would have seen in full-focus in a Godzilla or Independence Day - Buildings collapsing, destruction all-around, the monster in attack-mode, the army retaliating, etc.
Mixed reactions to the movie are mostly because hand-held video for the entirety of the movie can induce motion-sickness though. There were a few walk-outs mid-way, and I know of people running to the toilets due to the shaking effect throughout. As long as you are prepared for and have the stomach for it, be ready for a movie experiment that actually works as an experience.
p.s.: As a kid, J. J. Abrams loved Escape From New York. But he felt cheated that the image of the Statue of Liberty’s head lying in the street on the movie’s poster wasn’t actually in the film. So he made sure he saw that image in his own film.
My rating --> 3.5 of 5