I had a chance to watch Cloverfield over the weekend.
Short take: it's very good. I didn't have a problem with the shaky camera, but that's probably because I didn't see it in the theatre. The editing is crucial, as it is what keeps it fresh and moving--you have a sense of "real time" immediacy, but the film covers just shy of seven hours chronologically (in 80 minutes of film time).
Despite the violent subject matter--monster emerges from the sea and decides to trash Manhattan--the film is not gory and keeps the worst matter offscreen or tastefully obscured.
Yes, it owes an obvious debt to Godzilla (the hero of the film just misses going to Japan to avoid the monster, nudgenudge) and plays like that at times. It also strongly reminded me of the sadly-neglected Miracle Mile, which has a similar plot. There are also inescapable nods to 9/11, especially with the destruction of the Woolworth Building and the shockwave of dust which follows. In fact, one of the commentaries admits that Youtubes of 9/11 personal home videos guided the project.
The characters are more types than people: the hero, the damsel in distress, the genuinely funny sidekick, the mother hen, the loner. But they are likeable enough, and the scene where the hero decides to venture into the war zone to rescue his lady love is very well done. The military is depicted as brave and competent, if outmatched, and there's no suggestion of X-Filesish conspiracy here (except in one supposition by the funny sidekick who admits he just wants to hear himself talk).
Well worth a rent.