I downed an energy drink and caught a midnight screening of Super 8. It was… …good. …yeah… …just good… …not great…
I won’t lie and say I wasn’t banking a great deal of anticipation on this film to be amazing. I actually did an excellent job of changing the channel during commercials for it, and not looking at press-release photos or anything like that leading up to it to keep as much as I could a surprise. I saw the spectacular trailer for it months ago, and wanted everything to do with Super 8. It’s still a brilliantly cut trailer, and the film isn’t bad or anything, but I was definitely hoping for something more.
Banking on Spielbergian nostalgia, Super 8 does do a really good job of capturing something on film that probably hasn’t been done since the 80s or early 90s: make a movie about a bunch of kids and NOT have it be horribly annoying. Though, through a clutter of too many minor characters, the overall impact of the group of kids gets diluted. Still, there are moments in the film that feel so naturally childlike, that it almost becomes eery how much it feels like Goonies or Stand By Me or something. It’s fantastic that all the kids are nerdy losers in the film and they don’t get criticized or judged for being that way. It’s a stark contrast from children’s entertainment today; where the rich, snobby, good-looking children are the heroes and main characters, and the losers are back to being belittled losers. Salvaged only for comic relief at their expense. Let me just say that Super 8 is everything right about how children should be portrayed in entertainment, and the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are everything wrong. I could go on this topic for 10 more paragraphs, so I won’t…
Where Super 8 lost me was on the emotional family sub-plot. Or was that supposed to be the main plot? I shall take a brief tangent to possibly state my opinion on this better. I watched E.T. a couple of weeks ago for the first time in probably 5 or 6 years. It is a film I have seen maybe 15 times as a kid (it was a VHS favorite), and a couple more times since then. A couple of weeks ago I watched it and during the last 30 minutes my eyes legitimately watered up to an embarrassing amount. Tears weren’t rolling down my face, but as a grown man sitting on his couch watching a movie about a boy and his alien friend, I was more emotional than many others would be comfortable admitting. The emotion at the end of the film; E.T. getting sick, the family getting closer, the kids banding together, the return to the spaceship… it was all so fluid and natural. Without that much obvious effort, it’s believable that Elliott really loved E.T..
Didn’t feel that way during Super 8 though, the fluidity of it all. I just didn’t feel it. None of it came naturally, yet it was such a huge part of the story. It wasn’t that bad of a thing until the 2nd half, when it became slightly cheesy and predictable. But overall, it felt like it was written in a way that they said “Ohhhh yeah, the audience is really gonna cry at this part! Oh yeah, definitely gonna feel some emotion here.” Like it was all pre-planned. I know you might be saying, “all movies have pre-planned emotion, dummy”, but I more mean that it didn’t have magic moments that sprouted naturally out of the genuine magic of the movie itself. Maybe because it was such an homage to early Spielberg that it lost its originality and magic altogether. And if you’re thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be focusing on the emotional parts so much, and should have more focus on the fact that it’s a fun summer action/adventure/sci-fi movie… then you probably haven’t seen Super 8 yet. Because they make it painfully obvious that they want you to focus on the emotional stuff just as much as the rest.
But I would also like to point out that I did, overall, like the movie. It’s very entertaining despite its tonal flaws. It has many scenes of quality action and suspense, and a few relatively tense moments as well. In addition to that, it’s pretty funny too. Laughed quite a bit. As I said earlier, the kids in it are great, and it would have been nice if they actually weeded out some of the horribly developed adult characters and to make room for more of the kids. Its got good pacing, and it’s a top-notch production in terms of special effects and most cinematography. I almost feel bad for criticizing it for its lack of emotional impact on me. That might have just been me. Super 8 is a movie that I feel no one should really hate. There’s reason to not think it’s great, but I think most people will find it a satisfying time in the theater. I did. And I look forward to revisiting it again in several months when it comes out on DVD. But I say this completely disregarding any previous anticipation of it, or comparing it to the films it’s clearly homaging, and basing it solely on how the film itself played out: It has a sloppy ending, and it could have been better. But I’d still recommend checking it out.
7.5 out of 10