Archive for June, 2011

‘Super 8’ Review

For most, youth carries with it a time when everything is safe, fun and interesting. There is always something new, something to look forward to; life has only just begun. I guess that’s why I see a movie like “Super 8” with both sadness and admiration. Sadness for not being able to relive those days and admiration for giving me the next best thing.

Director J.J. Abrams and his mentor producer Steven Spielberg have created a film that feels like it belongs during a different age of movies, before overrated special effects and the amount of explosions sold tickets. Films were based on characters, the special effects were secondary. Sometimes they looked good, sometimes they did not, but you accepted them because the story was strong.

And that’s where “Super 8” soars, in its characters.

Set in 1979, a group of friends witnesses a horrible train crash while trying to make a zombie flick on 8mm film. They all survive, but will the rest of the small Ohio town? The accident leads to an invasion of troops from the Air Force, bizarre disappearances and missing microwaves.

Actor Joel Courtney takes the lead as Joe Lamb. This newcomer gives audiences the perfect blend of awe and determination to make the unlikely events taking place around him believable. He reminded me a lot of the kid who played Bastian in “The Neverending Story.”

And he’s not the only star of this cast, Ryan Lee annoys you just enough as the brace-face, pyromaniac Cary; Riley Griffiths is the bossy, fat-kid directing the zombie movie-in-a-movie; Gabriel Basso was memorable as a seemingly muscular boy who is a giant wuss and Zach Mills uses his minimal screen time well, making you crack up with goofy expressions and offbeat one-liners.

The other standout, is Elle Fanning. She moves far beyond the typical damsel in distress and gives a real emotional performance as a girl coping with her father’s drinking problem and a budding romance with one of the aforementioned gents.

This teenage crew was so likeable and reminded me so much of how life was like at that age. As a viewer, you kind of wished that the whole movie was about them and their adventures, but it’s not.

As much as I enjoyed the main storyline, about these kids, the “Super 8” secret kind of got in the way. Whenever it got to a scene involving “the secret”, I just found myself yearning for more witty dialogue and funny interaction. But as with any good teen movie of the 80’s, I guess there has to be something for these kids to react to, whether it be “Monster Squad”, “Goonies” or “Gremlins.”

I obviously don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say the device used as the MacGuffin or the “Super 8 Secret” as it’s been dubbed on Twitter, is something that is growing very tired in modern cinema. And the way it’s presented to viewers makes it hard for the eventual outcome to sit well with audiences.

“Super 8” did not disappoint. It gave me what I needed. A nostalgic voyage to a simpler time, when days felt like years, a bike ride to a friend’s house was a journey you’d never forget and a first-kiss could make your head spin. I just wish it didn’t involve…(insert secret here.)

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Super 8 and have No Comments