Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Super 8

Get out your videotape camera recorders, we're reviewing Super 8!


Super 8 is a super mega nostalgic sci-fi thriller. The acting and characters are great, but are the monster effects worth it? Also, if anyone is wondering what the monster is, here it is.

This is almost the anti-monster movie.  You normally go to a thriller and you get stock characters with subpar acting and a cool-ass monster with great death shots. In this, you get a pretty good cgi monster (looks like this) with ok death scenes and rich characters with rich engrossing acting.

Joe Lamb(Joel Courtney) is your average nerdy teenager living in 1979, making monster models, helping his friends with a monster movie, and trying to deal with his single father(Kyle Chandler) who is also the Police Deputy. While Joe is helping his friends make their movie, they get caught in the middle of a huge train wreck, and witness something escape from one of the cars. People start disappearing, the military swoops in to quarantine the town, and it's up to the group of young kids to figure out the mystery behind the monster(seen here).  Lens flared antics ensue.

I went into this expecting to be intrigued and entertained by the monster, but really I was more interested in all the characters, especially the kids.  Each of them is a well-rounded and complex individual rather than a cookie-cutter stereotype.  Joe Courtney and Elle Fanning are both wonderful in their roles as pre-teen confused nerdy love birds.  You simultaneously hate Kyle Chandler as an unfeeling jerk dad and love him as a badass cop.  The entire cast was entertaining and believable.  One of my favorites was Ryan Lee as a short, energetic teenager, eager to blow shit up.

The writing and dialogue were spot on and funny.  I was generally surprised at certain reveals in the characters and intrigued to know what each of the characters would do next.  Even more so intrigued than the would-be monster.  Every time the music would get dramatic and the monster would peep out, I found myself more interested in what the kids would do next.

The monster is probably the weakest part of the film. It's a nice design when you get to see it in full at the end(or right here!), but you don't get enough of it during the course of the movie.  They reference a lot of alien monster movies(Cloverfield, The Blob, CLose Encounters, E.T., Alien, etc.), but in doing so they make the plot more of a generic Scooby Doo episode. By the time you see the original design it feels too little too late.  Plus, they ruin any type of tension or suspense by the movie's very nature: I know they're not going to kill off any of the kids because its a summer blockbuster.  I never feel generally worried for the kids' safety, especially after a certain plot point in the movie.  There are some interesting bits here and there, and the train crash at the beginning is beyond epic, but the monster(this is it I swear) feels like a side story compared to young group's adventures.

Like I said before, this is a super duper nostalgic movie. Nostalgia level is over 9000 here! It's all 70's haircuts, rock 'em sock 'em robots and My Sharona all the time everywhere.  This is J.J. Abrams love letter to the 70's and 80's.  

The ending brought everything together, but it almost felt like it was missing a scene at the end.  They brought the movie to its climax, but cut off the resolution.  I wanted to see what happened to all the people!  Perhaps I'm just to used to my movies having 20 endings?  They do however play the kids' zombie movie in full during the credits and it's completely heartfelt and entertaining.  I think if the movie had just been the kids trying to make a monster movie, it would have been perfect.  But perhaps that was Abrams plan all along, to give a mediocre thriller with an outstanding coming of age story.

All in all this was pretty good. I wouldn't call it the movie of the summer, but it was a fun experience and I'd recommend watching it. I just don't have any need to watch it again.  

1 comment:

  1. I finally got to see this...enjoyed up until the end. I'm not sure how I felt about the side story for the creature. I wanted more ruthless aggression!