Movie Review: Super 8

Posted: June 14, 2011 in movie reviews, movies

Super 8 not only reminded me what sci-fi movies used to be like before the world got dark, twisted, and jaded, it reminded why I want to make movies in the first place. With this movie, J.J. and Spielberg were able to recreate the wonder and innocence of childhood, but it failed when it allowed modern-day ideology to interfere with that innocence.

Super 8

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Noah Emmerich, Joel Courtney

The Premise: It’s summer in late 70’s. A group of kids are filming a zombie flick when a truck decides to derail a train. After hearing weird noises, finding hundreds of strange white cubes, and getting an ominous warning from the truck driver, the kids realize there’s more to this accident than meets the eye. Their suspicions are later confirmed when people around town start disappearing and local animals start running away. The kids set off to finish their film and uncover the mystery.

My Review: J.J. Abrams is a genius. I will say it over and over again. J.J. Abrams is a genius. What I love about him is that he’s totally the nerdy little kid inside all of us. Teaming him up with Spielberg to create a nostalgia-based movie is probably one of the smartest things anyone has ever thought of. I grew up on movies like Stand By Me, Flight of the Navigator, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and ET, (the latter two by Steven Spielberg) and Super 8 sets out to create that kind of atmosphere. While Super 8, set the feeling and stirred up the right emotions of both nostalgia, and innocence of youth, it failed when it came to the sci-fi aspect of it.

I know Abrams was just a producer on Cloverfield, but I think the movies biggest problem was when it came down to the monster/alien. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Cloverfield. I thought it was tense and exciting and I love the fear of not knowing exactly what the monster looks like. But when we finally did see the monster it was a bit of a letdown. Once that mystery was gone, it was like the movie didn’t know what to do next. I feel a similar thing happened with Super 8. Once we got a good look at the monster/alien the movie became a little contrived. And the monster didn’t know whether or not it was a scary monster or a scared monster – let’s just say this monster was no ET, even if all he did want to do was “phone home.”

Before the movie opened, Abrams did an interview on Jimmy Kimmel about how the first few days on set he was scared out of his mind because most of those most of the kids (with the exception of Zach Mills, Gabriel Basso, and, of course, Elle Fanning) had never even stepped foot on a set before. Basically, the entire weight of the movie was based on their performance and ability to remain fresh, youthful, and innocent. Joe, Charles, Cary, Preston, Martin, and Alice kids ARE this film. And they all do a damn fine job.

The adults were no idiots either. Unlike many of the kid-centric movies out there, where the adults are basically just talking heads, Kyle Chandler and Ron Eldard, as the fathers to Joe and Alice respectively, brought out the more emotional aspects to the film. Plus Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor) always has a special place in my heart. His usual characters are sarcastic, and bossy, and stubborn, (see Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy), but he also just oozes charm, and comfort, and hell, you just can’t help liking the dude.

J.J. Abrams also excels with action. He puts the viewers in the most unusual places during an action sequence. The train sequence we’ve all seen snippets of in the trailer is way more extraordinary on the big screen. It’s as if you are experience it firsthand.

Nearing the end to the movie it all kind of fell apart. It turned into Cloverfield with a bit of LOST and ET in it, and that’s when the movie lost its spark, so to speak. By all means it was still a good movie, it was sweet, and really funny, and action packed. The characters were well developed and you really rooted for the kids.

Plus there’s a HILARIOUS and frankly GENIUS piece during the credits that you don’t want to miss. It was a great way to close the movie and bring back that nostalgic feeling that the movie started with. Plus you could tell all the kids and most likely crew members were having great, nerdy fun.

Rating: 3 ½ stars.

Random Thoughts:

  • My love for the song My Sharona by The Knack was reignited by this movie.
  • I really really want to make a movie on Super 8 now.
  • Elle Fanning’s acting when they were rehearsing a scene for their movie (within the movie) was really great.
  • Loved they put a barfing scene in there.
  • Now I want to go back and watch all those old school kid movies. Remember Sandlot? Awww….
  • My theater cheered when the Amblin logo appeared with ET sailing over the moon, before the . Did yours?




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