Super 8

Rated PG-13 112 min. 2011

The further I get away from it, the less I like Super 8. It’s not that it’s exactly bad. It’s more that it’s so by-the-numbers, such a mish-mash of Abrams and Spielberg, and so hell-bent on overkill and nostalgia that it’s finally not much of anything. It’s mildly entertaining while it’s on screen, but the word that finally comes to mind for me is “undistinguished.” If you’ve been following the publicity on the film at all, you know that the story concerns a bomber-crew group of kids (how they missed a black kid is beyond me) making a Super 8mm horror movie in the summer of 1979. Naturally enough, they run afoul of a real-life sci-fi horror story in the course of events. The major focus is on Joe (Joel Courtney), Charles (Riley Griffiths), and Alice (Elle Fanning). Charles is the wannabe filmmaker. Joe is his best friend and makeup artist. Alice is the pretty girl who has agreed to be the leading lady in their zombie picture. The other kids are sort of Goonies-centric window dressing, because three people can’t make a movie on their own. The problems start with the inevitable Spielbergization of the characters. Charles’ family is a collection of sitcom types. Joe has a recently deceased mother and subsequent trouble with his father (TV actor Kyle Chandler). Alice has a bad-hat father (TV actor Ron Eldard) who drinks and is somehow maybe kinda sorta involved in Joe’s mother’s accidental death at the local factory. Amazingly, the young actors largely manage to overcome this baggage or make something out of it (the adults fare less well). The greater problem is the monster plot, or the monster and the plot. The idea of some alien creature escaping from a USAF train crash is fine. The crash is undeniably spectacular and the impression that something pretty darn scary escaped is well conveyed, but nothing lives up to it. The build-up to the monster is undermined by a monster that’s not all that, and the whole thing falls victim to its own efforts to “make ’em like they used to.”

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: J.J. Abrams

Writer: J.J. Abrams

Producer: J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burkv and Steven Spielberg

Cast: Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, Gabriel Basso, Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills and Amanda Michalka


Super 8

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