super 8 – super disappointing

Saw Super 8 Friday.  This is JJ Abrams latest feature film.  It’s about some kids in the 1970s who live in a steel working based town in Ohio.  They’re aspiring film makers and one night while they film a scene an Air Force train gets de-railed, they witness something.  The military comes in a tries to cover up what really happened.  But only the kids can reveal the truth.  It’s a mix of a bunch of movies I like; Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., The Iron Giant, Monster Squad, Stand By Me, The Thing, Jaws, Cloak and Dagger, The Gate, Critters… and so on and so on.

The good; Joel Courtney plays Joe Lamb, the lead in this movie, he’s great.  This being his first film ever.  His group of friends are great as well, the kid actors do a wonderful job.  One of his friends even throws up twice in the movie – score!  It’s a period piece, I love it, takes place in the 70s, but not screaming it out.  I also like that Super 8 is returning to a sub-genre, if you will, of movies.  One in which kids are the main characters, and the movie is seen through the eyes of such.  I miss those movies, and not these newer movies about a sing song and dance number, but movies where kids are out during the day just being kids, then they come across something that pushes them in to the adult world.

The bad; it’s typical JJ… lens flares up the waazoo, why?  Red containers, cause he likes red (red matter in Star Trek)?  And the Cloverfield like Alien… these things I’m sure are meant to be his trademark or signature stamp, but they’re not disguised well.  The story outside of the kids’ relationships and chemistry with one another was… blegh.  The whole alien story wasn’t developed as much as it should be and it’s over complicated, but then summed up in a very easy and convenient explanation. Moving on, the monster doesn’t look like a subterranean creature, it should’ve looked more like a mole instead of a rehash of the Cloverfield monster. Then the alien’s space ship… it should’ve looked more like something from Close Encounters and not like something from today.  The whole shapeshifting aspect was also too easy.  And let’s not forget the train derailing sequence, I thought that would never end… why wasn’t that scene edited down more??

You should also stay for the credits, not because all the names of the people that worked hard on the movie are there, you should do that anyway,  but during the credits they show the film the kids made, it’s the best part of the movie.  Overall, I enjoyed the throw back to the kids’ dilemma being the main focus of the movie, that’s really what holds this movie together.  I hope more films in this vein get made, they’ve been absent from the cinema scope (pun intended) for too long.  Overall, no need to see on the big screen.

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