Review: Super 8 - GigSpotting.Net

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Review: Super 8

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Steven Spielberg 1999

Steven Spielberg (Public Domain Image via Wikipedia)

The speculation around Super 8 made me almost as excited as the actual premise.  I went to a midnight showing on Thursday expecting Spielberg fans to be lined up out the door.  What I got instead, was a theater of about 10 people.  Granted, Steven Spielberg did not direct this movie; JJ Abrams did.  As it progresses, that fact becomes unavoidable.  The film starts by giving you the information that Joe Lamb (played by Joel Courtney) has just lost his mother in an accident and that his father, a police officer in the small town of Lillian, Ohio is now having to step up and take care of him on his own, whether is prepared to do that or not.  Then we follow Joe and his friends, all perfectly cast, as they film a zombie movie to try and submit to a film contest.  They witness a train crash and have to spend the rest of the movie figuring what or who is behind it and why strange things are happening in their town.  Dogs and people are disappearing, whole counties are without power, and no one seems to have any answers.  The plot itself is pure 1980's Spielberg.  It feels like the Goonies or ET, and that was always its selling point.  However, once you're watching the movie you quickly see that those things are all it really has- it feels like ET or the Goonies, but it certainly is not. 
It's full of plot holes and inconsistencies and a really intrusive score that ruins the few chances you have to connect with the characters.  The score is good, but just badly placed at times.  After seeing it twice this weekend, I realized that the kids are actually the only thing that make it worth watching.  If they kept the same story but filmed it with adults, it would be just another forgettable sci-fi movie.  But the kids are fantastic, especially Elle Fanning, and you want to get lost in their characters.  When Joe is fighting with his dad or talking about his mom and the way she used to look at him, I couldn't help but tear up.  But where Spielberg would have grabbed those moments and kept you there for the rest of the movie, Abrams gives them to you and then quickly takes them away before you can let yourself get wrapped up in it.  Super 8 is not a bad movie, by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, it's one of the best I've seen in years.  But that's purely because it's a great tribute to a great filmmaker who pioneered the genre.