Super 8 Review

by talkbackty on Jun 11, 2011

The Steven Spielberg/ J.J. Abrams project is a one of a kind movie.

Not that it breaks any new ground. Great special effects? Got it. Classic monster movie motif? Got it. Filled with 70's & 80's film making style? Got that too. In fact a clever and knowledgeable moviegoer can probably find numerous homages, references, and "inspired by" moments filling the screen time of Super 8.
Property of Paramount Pictures

What's so great about the movie is that it combines everything into one beautiful, enjoyable package.

One of the more impressive feats is the child actors. All of them are good. While the main character (Joel Courtney) and his love interest (Elle Fanning) are fantastic. They capture that early, innocent love as convincingly as they do utter terror and panic.

The adult actors (Kyle Chandler of FNL, and Ron Eldard) also weave a complex sub-story (maybe over-story would be a better phrase). That reminds me a lot how parents are living in very different world from the ones their children inhabit. While heartbreaking at times, the adult story going on in Super 8 is subtle enough to add emotional depth without destroying the simple magic of the film.

And what is that simple magic? To me it was a daydream gone wrong. An adventure in my backyard when I realized the sky was falling. Children seeking excitement in their small town by filming a movie with their friends until a train crashes and explodes in a terrifying scene that made me stop and sit up in my chair. 

It's wonderfully done. Reminding me so much of that first episode of Abrams' other project, LOST. When the plane crashed in the series pilot and Jack is running along the beach I couldn't help but stare at my TV screen in wonder and mutter, "Damn this is good." Well Abrams did it again.

Even before the train crashes though, one of the characters reminds us of how important story is. He is speaking about his own movie -which is shown in its completion during the credits so don't run out of the theater- but we should really take this as a hint as viewers. This isn't a monster movie. It's about these people. This family. This boy and his father. The heartbreak, sorrow, and loss that we all feel in life and the things we do that can heal us.

The one drawback for me was that the attempted jokes during the action scenes fell flat. Some were rushed, some were poorly delivered, none really hit for me. This could be one of the drawbacks of child actors- rarely is comedy something people are born with. It takes time and practice and a lot of work. Kids don't have it yet. I know the film was not trying to be a comedy and I'm really just nitpicking. But imagine the original Star Wars films without the back and forth of C3PO and R2D2. Imagine Indiana Jones without the sword swinging Arabian being shot down cooly. We need comedic breaks from time to time. It allows the audience to breath a bit, even if just enough for the next big action scene. Again I nitpick.

The film was great. I honestly thing it's one of those generation levelers. Young kids will like it. Young adults will like it. Adults will like it. It has the rapid flow of Abrams mixed with the steady hand and experience of Spielberg. Cloverfield mixed with E.T. LOST mixed with Indiana Jones. Honestly, Abrams and Spielberg is a combination I could get used to.

Overall Grade: B+