Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday SF Matinee: Super 8

This weekend, the Beloved and I ended up with a surprisingly unscheduled Saturday so after an early trip to Coronado Dog Beach, we decided to do something we don’t do too often in these busy days: go to the movies.

After a perusal of the last of the pre-Potter theater listings, we opted to go see JJ Abrams’ science fiction film Super 8. I’d been interested in this movie ever since I saw the trailer many months ago. I’m an Abrams fan and Spielberg’s movies shaped a lot of my adolescence –Jaws,Close Encounters, Raiders, and E.T. – man, that’s a lot of influence right there.

The bromance between Abrams and Spielberg has been pretty well publicized and in many ways this film was an homage to Spielberg by Abrams – an attempt to capture the feeling of the Spielbergian alien classics – Close Encounters and E.T.

The film follows a group of filmmaking teen nerds as they attempt to make their zombie movie for a local film festival as they become entangled in a horrific train crash in their small Ohio town – a crash that unleashes something into their midst and begins wreaking havoc on the town.

The teen cast is exceptional and covers the entire gamut of nerds: bossy filmmaking guy, big talking scaredy-cat, firebug, winsome lass, and troubled dreamer. I bought every one of them. Having been 14 years old in 1979 (when the film is set) I felt a strong connection to the kids and could have been one of them, you know if you substituted Dungeons & Dragons for filmmaking.

The film centers on the mysterious happenings after the crash and includes a slew of Spielberg staples: resourceful kids, menacing military men and normal folks dealing with the extraordinary -- I’m pretty sure that a list of the winks and nods to moments from Spielberg's movies could fill some film student's dissertation.

Coupled with this is the personal story of Joe Lamb – the central teen character – as he deals with the accidental death of his mother and discovers love for the first time. Throughout, the personal and SF elements are balanced effectively. The special effects – in particular the train crash – are well done and the anxiety in the film builds effectively without resorting to gore.

Overall, the movie had a chance to be "great" instead of "good", but they sort of family-movied their way to the ending which is okay, because I guess it's supposed to be a family movie. I'm sure I'll watch this one several more times, just because it was fun.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My review was similar! Really dug the 1979 vibe (I was about the same age) and innocence. Best movie of the summer - so far.

MRanthrope said...

really dug this film also. My bromance between Spielberg and Abrams cannot be denied!

Budd said...

I have heard nothing but positive things about this movie, may have to go see it.

DEZMOND said...

"the entire gamut of nerds"
he he he :)
Nice review, Budd!

Pat Tillett said...

I haven't seen it yet, but everybody keeps telling me it's really good.