Super 8 (2011)

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6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Great start to the film, feels like old Spielberg

The last 30 to 40 minutes of the film are a mess

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Super 8

Studio:  Bad Robot Productions

Genre(s):  Drama/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  June 10, 2011 (US)/August 5, 2011 (UK)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

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Way to keep a low profile, guys!

It is 1979 in a small Ohio town, and Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) has just lost his mother in a tragic accident.  Joe is unable to connect to his father Jack (Kyle Chandler) who is often away due to his job as a deputy and finds himself with his friends for support.  Teaming with his friends, Charles (Riley Griffiths), Cary (Ryan Lee), Martin (Gabriel Basso), and Preston (Zach Mills), Joe works to make a zombie horror film to enter in a contest as the summer passes.  When Alice (Elle Fanning) joins the cast, Joe finds himself trying to be near her despite warnings from both of their parents since Alice’s father should have been working instead of Joe’s mother when the accident occurred.  A truck forces an air force train derailment, and something is unleashed in the town.  The air force is moving in to cover it up and people are beginning to disappear.  Now, Joe and his friends are about to discover what is living under the town.

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What an adorable alien that kills and eats people

Directed by J.J. Abrams, Super 8 was produced by Steven Spielberg.  The movie received mostly positive reviews and was noted for the kids’ performances and the style of the film.

Super 8 had a lot of potential.  With its 1979 setting and Spielberg’s association, it felt like it could harken back to days of Spielberg’s heyday…the film in that respect starts out strong but then hits problems.

The story of Super 8 starts out feeling like E.T.  It has kids setting out against the government agents to help an alien that has been trapped and tortured for years.  The opening of the film is strong and the character development feels like something like The Goonies with a bunch of goofball kids.  Once the alien really gets involved, things get sticky.  It isn’t a cute alien like E.T. and it is a killer (that eats people).  I know it has been tortured, but that really hinders a likeable storyline and makes for a painful final thirty to forty minutes.

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Hey guys…Maybe we should run!

The kids are decently cast.  Joel Courtney was a good find for the role.  He’s likeable and seems like a real kid.  I never like Dakota Fanning, but her sister Elle seems much more tolerable and talented…she actually seems like a kid while Dakota always felt like an adult in a kid’s body.  Every kid’s movie needs a “chubby friend” and here Riley Griffiths fills the “Chunk” role.  I always feel sorry for this kid in that even in the script weight is an issue.  The other kids however don’t get developed enough (I wanted more of Ryan Lee who was the pyro kid).  Kyle Changler is also strong as the father who can’t connect with his son.

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I’m not sure what I’m looking at here…

The visuals for Super 8 also are sometimes inspiring and other times depressing.  I like how the movie looks and is shot at the beginning of the film, but the movie looks horrible in the last weak thirty minutes.  The underground sets and the alien itself wasn’t that impressive and resembled other creatures…I wanted a really different alien.

On a side note, the movie is for some reason set in 1979 and there are tons of errors due to things that aren’t existence.  There is a blatant reference to the Walkman which wasn’t available in the U.S. at the time and definitely wouldn’t have been affordable by a gas station worker.  Plus, other references to Rubick’s Cube and culture items were not correct.  If the movie had been set in 1982, it would have all made sense.  Plus, these kids are supposed to live in the real world but I think that the kids would have been more entrenched in Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and other big movies that were popping up at the time.  It is a minor complaint, but I do find it kind of distracting when they make such a big reference to it.

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That totally not a zombie!

Super 8 is a rollercoaster but not a good rollercoaster.  The plot is up and down and never consistently good.  There are plenty of worse movies you can find, but I also feel there are much better movies out there as well.  It doesn’t help that the movie showed so much potential, and then failed to live-up to the hype…I think I would have rather watched the kids’ zombie movie instead.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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