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Super 8

Super 8

What She said:

She

I get the sense that the intention of Super 8 was for it to serve as the Stand By Me of today’s youth.  The movie follows a group of teenage boys who are learning important lessons about friendship, hardship, and perseverance.  However, writer and director, J.J. Abrams (yeah the LOST guy), put his own spin on the coming-of-age drama by adding a sci-fi thriller backdrop.  The result is a film with some decent character depth and plenty of explosions.  However, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed by a script that did not feel wholly intelligent at times.

I don’t want to give away too much here, but as the kids are being buddy-buddy and exploring young love a train derailment occurs that unleashes all heck on the town.  Basically, a car drives on to the tracks, the train hits it, and it starts a chain reaction of epic proportions.  I mean there are explosions on top of explosions, every car of the train comes off the track, and yet, miraculously the guy driving the truck survives.  I looked at The He and said, “Really….really….really?”  The whole thing seemed highly unlikely, and was obviously just a plot device.  There were several other instances of this sort of thing throughout the movie, and it kind of killed the fun of this for me.  The nostalgia of a buddy-flick and the excitement of a thriller were there, but I was disappointed by what felt like sloppy writing. 

That’s my major gripe of Super 8.  There is was so much promise, and for the most part it was a decent movie, but there were too many times that it was obvious the only reason certain things happened was to advance a larger storyline.  Unlikely scenarios, some cheap dialogue, and characters who would act out of turn.  Fortunately, we can feel good in knowing that the kids save the day.  And that is pretty fulfilling.

Thumbs mostly up.

What he said:

He

Super 8 is about a group of kids who witness a catastrophic accident that leads to a whole lot of trouble for both them and their town. While filming a movie, they witness an insanely large train crash (a little too large if you ask me) that leads a series of events that has the town on edge. Dogs begin fleeing, the town loses power, and both people and electronic equipment begin to disappear. Oh and the military is there too and they won’t tell the town’s people a damn thing.

I haven’t been overly impressed with J.J. Abrams endeavors into the movie making business. I was not a fan of Cloverfield and while I thought Star Trek was decent enough as an action/adventure movie, it really missed the boat in terms of what Star Trek is all about.  

The man knows how to create intrigue though, so when the trailer for Super 8 came out, he had me interested once again. Anyone whose watched Lost or Alias, knows he excels at creating mystery. Whether he delivers on that mystery or not is another conversation, but he knows how to get some buzz going.

The movie is clearly trying to mimic E.T. amongst other things. That has been apparent from the trailer and remains true after viewing. I also see a dash of The Goonies and a pinch of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Steven Spielberg also happened to be involved in the creation of those movies too (he was the executive producer for Super 8).

For the most part, I felt this movie succeeded in creating similar sense warmth as those Spielberg classics. It’s clearly an homage to a different era of movie-making. It contains qualities that most movies don’t have anymore.  There aren’t a lot of movies that give me a sense of adventure the way some of the movies of my youth did. This movie made me feel that way and in large part due to chemistry of the young actors; Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney. They play our two main leads.  Their chemistry along with the acting of Kyle Chandler is what holds this movie together. Add in a couple of decent supporting roles and you’re good to go.

The biggest problem this movie has is some outright ridiculous moments. As my partner notes, that train crash is one of the most unbelievable things on film. Literally. It is so impossible, I can’t even believe they put it on screen. It’s kind of a slap in the face to the viewer. It was a very poorly executed way of advancing the plot. It’s so blatant, it’s hard to ignore.

 Aside from that, I really enjoyed the film.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written on November 29, 2011.