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September 2013

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SUPER 8? More like a Value-Sized 3!




Ever since I saw the trailers for this film a few months back, I was intrigued by this J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg collaboration, which looked to be trying to recapture a snippet from the E.T./Goonies/Close Encounters of the Third Kind era of movies (uh…not that I was actually old enough to remember THOSE films upon their first release <cough> <cough> but I have seen them on DVD and talked to the Old Timers about them).

With a group of adventurous and precocious kids, a horrific train wreck that unleashes a big, violent scary something upon a small, unsuspecting Apple Pie Town, mysterious disappearances, a military conspiracy, and a boy and his dad coping with a tragic loss, how could you go wrong?

Well…

My biggest problem with this movie is that, in trying to emulate a bygone era, it creates a cinematic error, failing to recapture the magic of those films it seeks to pay homage to. Who can forget Elliot and E.T.’s bike ride across a bloated moonlit sky? Or Richard Dreyfuss staring awestruck as the ginormicus mother ship pops a squat over The Devil’s Tower?

SUPER 8 feels like a black and white photocopy of a brilliant 8 X 10 color glossy (Oh, that’s before they took digital pictures and used to use something called film stock, or so I’m told by the old fogies).

There are no powerful moments in this film like its theatrical ancestors, no sense of urgency (like trying to make it through Return of the King without a potty break and an about to burst bladder), no tear-jerking moments to embarrass you into wiping your eyes before the theater lights come on and everyone sees what a sentimental mound of mush you really are.

The children deliver somewhat entertaining performances, most notably Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb, the film’s young hero, who must come to term with a loss in the family, even as his young heart beats with the primordial stirrings of his first crush on Alice Dainard, played by Elle Fanning (Yes, as in Ms. Dakota). I know, really heavy stuff for the Hannah Montana crowd.

There is a mildly interesting subplot involving the group of kids filming a zombie movie with a Super 8 camera (stay through the opening credits to see a much more satisfying bonus film ;-)

But as a whole, the plot is holier than Vatican City and Jerusalem combined. And don’t get me started on Director Abrams incomprehensible need to add Computer Generated blue light lens flares into practically every frame, particularly right before the train wreck scene. Hehe…train wreck…I get it now…that scene is an entire metaphor for the whole damn movie!

In case you’ve fallen asleep during this review, consider that at least you didn’t pay 11 bucks to do so. And in case you’re too dense to figure it out, I’m not recommending this movie. But if someone gives you the DVD as a gift, you can always pop it in AND use it as a shiny new coaster when you wake up!

Until next time, when I’ll probably be reviewing the new GREEN LANTERN flick or maybe another book. I haven’t decided yet, but you’ll definitely be the first to know!


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