Super 8 (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Super 8 (2011)

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Did you ever watch E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind and think, "Gee, that would have been cooler if there were more explosions."  Clearly J.J. Abrams did, and Super 8 is the result.

Fun fact: The US Military packs all their trains with explosives.

Super 8 tells the story of Joe (Joel Courtney), a typical, highschooler  who is coping with the recent death of his mother by spending his summer vacation making a zombie film with his friends and trying to win the affections of Alice (Elle Fanning).  However, production on his film is cut short when a train (presumably filled with dynamite) derails in front of him and releases an alien upon the quiet, Midwestern town.

The rest of the film plays out rather predictably as the kids contend with their parents, the growing threat of the military and an alien whom I'm still not sure was supposed to be scary or sympathetic.  If any of this sounds tired and cliched, that's because it is.  There isn't anything in Super 8 that you haven't already seen before, and it was probably done better then, too.

Just a weather balloon, kids!

Super 8's flaw is that is feels like two very different films forcibly mashed together.  It's a shame, too, because the half focusing on Joe and his friends is easily the better part of the film.  There were some genuinely touching scenes, particularity the ones where we see the budding romance between Joe and Alice, or the growing tensions between Joe and his distant father (Kyle Chandler).

J.J. Abrams should have focused on the story of the kids and just gotten rid of the alien altogether, but given recent film trends  I suppose I should just be thankful that the train wasn't filled with zombies.  Even the adults contributed virtually nothing and it felt like they had their scenes expanded just so that it wasn't seen as a "kiddie" film.

More than five minutes without and explosion?! Not on J.J. Abrams' watch!

The sci-fi elements are a confusing mess that feel like they've been cobbled together for the sake of moving the plot along.  The Air Force has been keeping this alien captive for years and experimenting on it, why?  Oh, right, because they're evil.  There's a scene where one of the soldiers takes Joe's locket that his mother gave him.  Why?  Oh, right, I forgot; evil.

And the alien isn't written much better.  Over the course of the film, the kids learn that the alien is just scared and wants to rebuild his ship and go home.  However, this doesn't quite jive with all the scenes throughout the film of the alien killing and EATING not only soldiers, but civilians.  The alien also has a wide range of psychic powers, including telekinesis and telepathy, yet it spends most of the film behaving like a feral beast; destroying property, eating people and the like.

I mention this twice for emphasis, as during the films' climax we are clearly meant to sympathize with the alien who has just spent the past two hours eating people.  Truly, we were the monsters.

I would have rather watched this kid's movie.

Super 8 could have been a decent, coming-of-age film, but it's ruined by the shallow, generic sci-fi elements.  Save yourself the $8 and just watch E.T. while dubbing in your own explosion sound-effects.  Trust me, you'll have more fun.

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Posted by Jacob

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