I finally got around to watching J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s epic summer movie blockbuster, Super 8. My pre-viewing impressions of the movie were clouded in a few ways—none of which were details to the “mysterious” plot and the non-descript movie title, but nonetheless, I have faith in both the writer/director and the producer, so I felt fairly certain that it was worth my precious movie watching time to give it a shot. I have to say that I was right, Super 8 is thoroughly enjoyable, well paced, and visually appealing.
Before I go any further, I feel I must be certain in stating that this movie feels exactly like what it is: a movie directed by Abrams and produced by Spielberg. The sci-fi elements, sunbursts, and most of the cinematography are all staples of Abrams’ work while a lot of the overall feel of the movie is very “Spielbergian.” The ensemble of kids in the small town reminded me so much of The Goonies early on, so much that I wondered what it was exactly that I was watching. As the more visual and important moments started rolling out, the score made it feel like a Spielberg flick.
The movie followed many recent trends in action, sci-fi, and borderline horror movies in that the audience hardly gets a good look at the alien creature, and the ones we do get are shrouded shadows and darkness, or cleverly obscured by rotating gas station signs and the like. What we are left with is an implicitly mental image of an intelligent-yet-vicious spider like creature on a bend of vengeance.
The movie does sport some great action shot visuals, particularly the train wreck which serves as the plot’s vehicle, which struck me as some reasonably scary shit to happen to a bunch of kids. The movie’s plot unravels in a way that is fairly standard, with some twists that are not totally original, but are nonetheless enjoyable and interesting to watch. Their lack of originality doesn’t concern me much because they were in fact interesting to watch. The cast of kids do well to carry the movie and there are several (easily dealt with) subplots that provide for some of the character development and background. Without a cast of kids, written to jab each other verbally as kids do, this movie would have been a complete failure. Additionally, setting it in the 1980s makes it a pretty transparent attempt on the part of Abrams to set the movie around a younger version of himself—which of course I can’t knock (buy my book).
The only thing that really stuck in my craw about this movie—which is admittedly a popcorn summer movie adventure—is that the casting of Alice’s father seemed a little young. The actor didn’t look old enough really to have a tweenage daughter, but then again maybe the alcohol was preserving him.
All in, I highly suggest this fun and visually thrilling action, science fiction adventure. If you’re looking for a movie with high moral concept or a thorough philosophy, take your dollar elsewhere; but if you’re looking for a fun romp and an escape into a world of “what the hell is going on?,” then spend a little time with this movie. It is sure to entertain.
Written by: Brandon Melendez