Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Super 8

Super 8 Review

I think putting spoilers in a movie review are stupid - they defeat the point of a review for most readers. So you won't find any here.

J.J. Abrams is a really interesting guy. I think he's one of the more divisive figures in filmmaking and television for a very good reason: he's daring. One of the things that Jeff Bezos is often as quoted as saying and bleeds through into the culture at Amazon is the idea that you shouldn't be afraid to be misunderstood. Abrams clearly has that in his mind because, depending on who you ask, Lost, Alias, and Star Trek are brilliant or awful. He gives everything he does his all and even though his bets don't always pan out (*cough*Cloverfield*cough*) you have to respect his innovative spirit.

Super 8 isn't necessarily the most novel idea in the world, but there's something to be said for taking a genre that's basically been dead for years and using it to tell a really engaging story. The genre isn't disaster movies - God knows we've had way too many of those in the past few years. It's the movies that I recall from when I was little that were probably slightly before my time where it was a mysterious thriller that put flashy special effects in the backseat of a movie you couldn't help but have fun watching. It may not have been up for any Oscars, but you really enjoyed it. I'm afraid of giving examples of this sort of film because I think I risk spoiling the movie, but the point I'm trying to get across is that it's actually great cinema. Even though there are some cheap shots at making you jump in your seat, the thriller aspect takes a backseat to storytelling, suspense, and mystery.

The plot is a very simple concept: a group of kids (presumably in late middle school or early high school) are making a horror film and get caught in the middle of a huge train accident while shooting one particular scene. Strange things start happening around town right after the accident. On paper, it sounds pretty silly, and the main characters are mostly no-names. However, I could really identify with these kids. Even though they're living in a time years before I was even born, their interactions with each other felt so genuine. There was even a part where they were filming a scene and one of them was being an awful actor and I thought it was really meta how good he was at pretending to be a bad actor. I cringe sometimes to watch movies centered around young kids because they often treat them in an almost cartoonish way and I think this movie gave them some dignity and real character development and I really appreciated that.

The main drawback the film had was probably the pacing. It felt a little uneven, and I imagine that will turn off some audiences. It's not an action packed two hours - it's a mystery movie at the heart of it. In fact, I almost was disappointed in its cheap shots at the audience with the moments that made you jump in your seat. It wasn't a horror movie so I thought it was odd to have those moments in there.

All in all though, it's definitely worth seeing. The big reveal is not lame like in most of M Night Shayamalan's movies and they really keep you guessing as to which of the possibilities in your head is the right one. Don't go and see it expecting lots of action and special effects, but go and see it because you appreciate heartfelt filmmaking. It earns an A- rating from me.

Oh, and sorry about being MIA. Time has flown by and I've been surprisingly busy. I will do my best to get out an original post I've been toying with later this week.

1 comment:

Jay Swamps said...

Excellent review! I wasn't going to see this, but I think I will now after your review!