Super 8

“Super 8. It’s like ‘Stand by Me’ and ‘Cloverfield’ had a baby.”  – Chris Todd

Basically, Chris gave a perfect summation in just a dozen words. Of course, where’s the fun in that? LOL.

Super 8 is about a handful of young kids who sneak out late at night in order to film an amateur movie, and wind up witnessing a train crash. Of course, its not just any ordinary train crash, this train was carrying… a monster.

Of course, the movie doesnt give you that right away, even though you know it from the previews. Instead the Government closes in for reasons unknown, and strange things start happening around town. As havoc builds and builds, the kids realize they captured the creature’s escape on their film, which gives them the reason to get deeply involved in the incident. Along the way, the bonds of childhood friendship are formed, and family relationships are tested, but dont fail.

Abrams handles both elements very well: The character work is never boring, and the action sequences are very good. The combination of the strange events piling up and the glimpses of the creature serve well to build suspense. And once the suspense has built to a sufficient height, the pay offs are satisfactory on every level. It’s obvious that Abrams was cribbing off of the tried and true Spielberg forumla.

Which winds up being my largest (and really only) complaint about the movie. Its a good thing that JJ Abrams was so up front about making a “Spielberg-esque” movie, or people would be slamming him left and right for blatantly ripping Spielberg off. Jr High protagonists get involved in extraordinary adventure. A Creature/Monster that is slowly revealed. Lots of pageant music as the camera zooms in on faces upturned in wonder and awe. Seriously, if the marketing of this flick had revolved around it being a lost Spielberg film from the mid 80s, updated with today’s special effects, I’d have left believeing it. Of course, that’s not entirely a bad thing… I mean, there’s a reason people love Spielberg. His movies have heart. He’s great at pacing. His movies appeal to everyone. Yet, I was wayyyy too aware that his style was being mimicked. The kids were always riding around on bikes, to the point where at one point I felt like I was watching ET, except this time ET was evil and the kids were out to stop him.

Aside from that though, its a solid movie that’s engrossing and a lot of fun at times. The actors are all strong, although no one is seriously tested by the material they’re given here. The kids are excellent, I wouldnt be surprised to see them in other things. The pacing is good, and the action is well done. Its a fun, summer movie popcorn flick. Lots of action mixed with a little bit of heart.

It’s pretty much a rock solid recommendation – even if it does perform a wobbly tight rope act on the fine line between homage and rip-off.

Solid B.

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