Thursday, May 31, 2012

Movie Review: Super 8

My local grocery store offers a two fer one deal on used videos and I was really excited when I discovered Super 8 in the bin, so snagged that along with Hugo.  I really wanted to catch Super 8 when it was in the theater, but events conspired against me, so I had to wait until I could either catch it on cable or pick up a copy. 

I sat down to watch it as I recovered from Enfilade.  It's a Spielberg movie with lots of special effects, but there's a respectable story there too.  A group of nerdy high school film makers witness a terrifying train accident.  They uncover some sort of government operation in effect when their badly injured science teacher warns them not to tell anything about what they've seen. As property is destroyed and people begin to disappear, the Air Force becomes more involved in the small Ohio mill town where the story is set in 1979, and the kids get swept into the cover-up.  What ensues is a great story well-told by screenwriter J.J. Abrams  

Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb

The young actors led by Joel Courtney and Elle Manning form a nerdy ensemble of zombie film makers including Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Gabriel Basso and Riley Griffiths.  Together they are swept up in this mystery, trying to learn what is happening to their friends and family as the town is dismantled by a mysterious force and invaded and occupied by the U.S. Air Force.

As bits and pieces of the mystery is uncovered, the movie takes on a resemblance to another movie about nerdy kids seeking a solution to a problem.  The story is not unlike the 1985 movie The Goonies. Super 8 has a stronger story, better performances and the effects are sooo much better, but there is one thing the newer movie lacks, and that is a sense of light-heartedness and fun.  Goonies had Sloth and Chunk, Data's weird inventions and Mama Fratelli and her boys to keep things interesting while the story unfolded.  Though Super 8 also touches on young love, the most fun moments are at the end when the credits are rolling. The rest is deadly earnest and I think the movie suffers a bit from it.  There's ample ground here to lighten up with all the grade z zombie film antics, but it just doesn't quite get there.

Even so, if you haven't seen Super 8 it's worth a look.  I unquestionably would have enjoyed it more on the big screen, but still decent on the tube.

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