Super 8: A Smart Zombie Review

Boom, crash, sploosh!! No, it’s not the opening scene to the film Super 8. It’s me tripping over some idiot’s feet spilling my drink and popcorn cuz the dumbass wouldn’t move! Last night I attended a special “invite only” screening of the new JJ Abram film Super 8 (releases in theaters this Friday). Now, when I hear of a JJ Abrams film I think of two things: entertainment up the wazoo and a really intricate storyline that if you don’t pay attention to it you’re “Lost”! Like that tie in? Cool, huh?

Before I get any further rest assured THERE ARE NO SPOILERS IN THIS CRITIQUE. If there’s one thing JJ Abrams knows it’s how to write stories that grip the hell out of you. This one delivers just that. It’s a grip the hell out of you tale about a group of kids aspiring to make a movie using there dad’s Super 8 camera. And in typical JJ Abrams fashion they set out to accomplish something so innocent and end up getting much more than they bargained for. Again I’m not gonna spoil it for you but after all that happens in the film the story is still really about the kids and to a greater extent the relationship with their parents. And the relationship between the main kid (Joel Courtney) and the female lead (Elle Fanning) was nothing short of brilliant. Lot’s of fun watching them interact in awkward teenage fashion. It’s NOT as dull a picture as I’m painting here. There’s LOTS more going on in the film than just mushy relationship goo.

Super 8, in my opinion, takes a while to get off the ground but while waiting for the pace to pick up you really get wrapped up in the kid’s lives. JJ does a great job of making you feel like you’re one of the gang. Or at least that’s the way I felt. Many of the things they do in the film remind me a lot of my own childhood and, I’d hope, everyone else of certain aspects of theirs. Furthermore, Steven Spielberg produced this film and when it comes to kids in movies the guy knows what he’s doing. The film has a very strong Stand By Me, ET, Explorers feel when it comes to kids banding together to solve the mystery and get things back to normal.

I was a little unhappy with the overall momentum of the film. It seemed to me that it got to half the speed it should have and then stayed there. The relationship between Courtney and his dad (Kyle Chandler) goes from do what I say throughout most of the film straight into the oh good, everything’s OK finale. I really didn’t see the changes I wanted to in their relationship until the very end of the film. I’d like to have seen even a brief moment of doubt where his dad is thinking “maybe I shouldn’t treat my son like this. Maybe we need to have a heart to heart talk”. It just goes from one extreme to the other with nothing in the middle.

The film took a while to introduce the element that’s kept secret from fans in the trailers. And by this I mean the thing I can’t talk about without spoiling it for you. The cause of all these weird goings-on in the town. The only other issue I had with the film is that they didn’t spend enough time with Courtney’s direct involvement with… the thing I can’t talk about without spoiling it for you. Man, it’s hard to give a proper critique without talking about the thing I can’t talk about without spoiling it for you. “He who must not be named!” comes to mind. Anyway, I thought the film could have spent more time developing something between Courtney’s character and the thing I can’t talk about without spoiling it for you. Instead I felt they rushed through the ending as if there were a bunch of other filmmakers banging at the door to the studio yelling “Hey, it’s OUR turn!!”.

Overall Super 8 was very good. Not excellent, just very good. I really think it’s a movie worth seeing but honestly unless you’re a diehard JJ Abrams fans I’d save the money and rent it when it’s released on BluRay/DVD.