Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Super 8

Super 8Super 8 is exactly what you think it will be: Steven Spielberg + aliens=predictable. You know what you are going to leave the movie thinking or saying. For me it was, “Oh Spielberg and his alien movies.” The movie is very nostalgic for those (myself included) who grew up with the kids of the Goonies and Stand By Me to see a similar group of scrappy adolescents being kids in an increasing real, adult world. I’m sure there are lots of others my age that spent summers biking around and fantasizing about making movies--that alone and accuracy of period makes the movie worth seeing. [mild spoilers after the jump]

I have been waiting for over a year to see what pops out of the cargo of the crashed train, and I fell victim to my biggest complaint with any monster/alien movie these days--the build up is never worth the hype. We have seen every scary creature imaginable and until there is one that is going to really terrify an audience, just get it over with and show the thing right away. I know this isn’t what the film is about, and I guess I should be thankful that it wasn’t just some black smoke that acts as a security alarm, but I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated. When you wait as long as they chose to wait with Super 8 to reveal the creature, the audience gets the following message: “wait till you get a load of this.” JJ Abrams did the same thing with Cloverfield, and this monster might have even been its distant cousin. While on the topic of Cloverfield, it would have been great if the two movies tied themselves together a little. JJ has always worn his love for Stephen King on his sleeve and it would be interesting if his movies were tied together in a similar manner to how the worlds of King contain similar monsters and creatures. It is fun to debate where the monsters from the Fog come from, or how Stuttering Bill (the robot from Dark Tower) is related to Bill Denbrough from IT.

My other complaint is that the monster is really isn’t a monster--the main villain in the movie is the Air Force. This is something that I should have expected knowing that Steven “oh Spielberg and his alien movies” Spielberg was attached to the film. Looking back on Jaws I’m surprised that the shark wasn’t a victim of cruel fishermen being pushed to unfamiliar waters and forced to fight back. In Spielberg’s alien movies, the alien is pretty harmless and is always just trying to get home--the only difference here is that the alien only means to harm the bad guys. Maybe he would have been a little bit scarier or more relatable had there been any back-story other than the little glimpse we got from old top-secret Air Force lab videos.

Not to sound so negative; the movie was good. The kids were great and very fun to watch. It was a perfect summer movie, with lots of enjoyable moments. The best part of the movie was the movie within a movie. The kids are filming a zombie movie for an independent Ohio film festival. The creativity and resourcefulness involved with making the movie lends to the believability that the kids could actually come up with a way to maneuver around an alien/military invasion.

Don’t run out of the theater as soon as the movie is over – there is a little treat in the credits.