Super 8 (2011)

super 8 poster retro style
6.5 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 are messy and uninspired

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

super 8 cast

Meet Stranger Things Beta Testing

It is 1979 in a small Ohio town, and Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) has just lost his mother in a tragic accident and his struggling to connect to his father Jack (Kyle Chandler) who is a deputy in the town.  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, but things change when a girl named Alice (Elle Fanning) joins the cast.  While filming a scene, the teens witness something that they never expected and survive an accident that could easily have killed them.  The accident was no accident, and something has been unleashed on the small town…and now Joe, Charles, Cary, Martin, Preston, and Alice could be the only ones who know what is really going on.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, Super 8 is an action-adventure coming-of-age movie.  It was produced by Steven Spielberg and marketed itself as a mystery film.  The movie received mostly positive reviews and was noted for the kids’ performances and the throwback style of the film.

super 8 train wreck

There definition of “Low Profile” is a bit different than mine…

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 as it gets to the meet of the story.

The plot 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 whose biggest threat is growing apart as they grow older.  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 where the characters just spend most of the time aimlessly running around the city as everything goes to hell.

JJ Abrams’ lens Flare…CHECK!

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 stock character kid in that even in the script, the 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 Chandler is also strong as the father who can’t connect with his son.

The visuals for Super 8 are sometimes inspiring and other times depressing.  I like how the movie looks and is shot at the beginning of the film, but the the earnest style and class is lost in a lot of last part of the movie’s weak thirty minutes.  The underground sets and the alien itself weren’t that impressive and resembled other creatures generic space creatures of genre pictures…I wanted a really different alien.

But check out those eyes…who cares if he eats a bunch of lame townies?

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 Rubik’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 (if they had advanced it, Super 8 might not have been as available as a film format).  It is a minor complaint, but I do find it kind of distracting when they make such a big reference to it.

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/Instagram/Letterboxd @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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