Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TGD Movie Review: Super 8

A week ago I saw two movies in one day. Contain your excitement for a minute over this because the reason I mention it is that I have only reviewed one of the two films here on this blog.

I am but a humble, independent blogger with no sponsorship. By the time I use my own resources to see a movie or purchase a product, it is often after it has been out for some time. Thus, it is with an apology for the delay that I get around to my review of Super 8, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s attempt to go retro on the summer blockbuster. (If anyone reading this happens to be looking for someone to review products and write reviews, consider this a shameless attempt to attract exactly that sort of attention.)

The Plus Side: Summer movies have become expensive, poorly written, special effects laden behemoths whose sole purpose is to devour your cash as quickly as possible. A teaser trailer is released, the best scenes in the movie are shown to attract you like moths to the flame and make you think there is more where that came from and then they suck in as many movie-goers as possible in the opening weekend before word can get out that the film sucked…epically.

Contrast that format with the way Super 8 was marketed. Its commercials and trailers were fairly vague. The story reveals rather sparse. Okay, you knew there was a spectacular train accident, but you didn’t know why or what it meant. The entire story remained shrouded in mystery.

I venture a guess that this is because the filmmakers knew the movie would not disappoint. “It’s us,” the well-known names behind it said. “We’ve known one another for years. Just trust us, you’re going to want to see this movie.” And while many producers and directors have cashed in their reputation over the years with the same back alley smooth talk just to sell you a Faux-lex (Get it? Fake Rolex?), Spielberg and Abrams deliver the goods.

Super 8 is equal parts suspense, disaster, sci-fi and coming of age film. My wife called it a cross between E.T., The Goonies and Cloverfield. I would agree except that I believe you will still enjoy this movie after watching it a second time, unlike Cloverfield. You identify with the characters immediately upon meeting them the way you do with only good story telling. It’s not heavy on special effects but relies more on the suspense of the situation to trigger your excitement, fear and relief. When the time is right, however, the effects do not look hokey. You go from being amused and uplifted to being terrified and it all happens right alongside the film’s protagonists.

A good summer movie keeps you on your seat from start to finish. It makes you identify with the characters. It causes you to go out of your way to bring it up in conversation with your coworkers so that you might find one who has seen it and talk about it without spoiling anything. This is one of those movies.

The Down Side: I wouldn’t call it a family film. Younger kids will be scared at times. There is not blood and guts, but some scary imagery nonetheless that under ten viewers may be frightened by. There were moments when I was scared and I’m thirty-four years old.

Also, while Abrams and Spielberg make you glad you trusted them, I think there are still some holes in the plot that they glance over by taking advantage of their previous success. Sometimes the movie leaves you wanting a better explanation while the writers seem to have employed a standard Hollywood gimmick to bridge the gap. How is such a large thing evading detection? Insert five second long overheard dialogue. Audience sigh, “Oh, of course.” I know the movie was not about the monster/alien (Is it a monster or an alien? I’m no spoiler!) and that it’s role in the movie was as a catalyst to drive the characters lives in an interesting direction. That was most certainly to the film’s credit. However, it ended with me wanting to know more about the beast. It need not be all the mushy details, but something more. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

The Wrap Up: I was excited to see Super 8 and it did not disappoint. It was a character driven story that sucked you in at the beginning, made you sweat through the details and spit you out at the end, satisfied with your movie experience. If you go to see it, trust me that it will be far more enjoyable and much less bodily fluid and saliva covered than my description makes it seem.

TGD Rating: 9/10 star. Go see it. It is every bit the well told, old-school, summer blockbuster that they billed it to be. And stick around for the credits where you’ll see a little something extra. Don’t ask me what. I said I’m not spoiler.

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