Something that has always bothered me about when people write about a product or whatever is all the good things will be pointed out first, but then the final paragraphs of the review will be spent talking about all the things they didn't like. They even end their final sentence with something along the lines of, "Blahblah is a great product, however it does have several noticeable problems, if you can look past them then you should consider purchasing one." You know what impression this leaves me with?
This Product Sucks Monkey Balls.
And then of course you look at the score, at it's something like, 8.5 out of 10 or some other totally decent rating. It doesn't matter though, cause now all you really remember is that the reviewer had problems with it. So in an attempt to break that feeling, here's what I disliked about J.J. Abrams' Super 8 up front:
Just a bit too much time spent going to the military when what we want is to see the evolution of the children. That's who we care about.
Things got a bit too silly with the various shots of tanks rolling over and crazy action that seemed to be there for the sake of having something blow up.
The relationship of the main character and his father seemed to wrap up really quickly and in a manner that really didn't involve growth from either people.
Okay, that's out of the way, now on to the rest.
J.J. Abrams' had always made it clear that he wanted to make his sort of tribute film to 80's Spielberg. Interestingly, it's the second one that came out this year, the other one being Greg Mottola's Paul. Of course Paul was a wild comedy that paid homage in various ways to Spielberg and Science Fiction films, like Shaun was to zombies and Hot Fuzz to buddy cop pics. What Super 8 went for was to create an authentic Spielberg movie, think Planet Terror versus Death Proof.
In my opinion, he succeeded. He brought us back into the small town, the creative and interesting children, the heartache that lies in the characters, basically a beautiful portrait of small town Americana that can easily be it's own film, and then adds the supernatural element.
I have to say, I loved every second the young actors were on screen, it must be difficult to find, for lack of a better word, good young actors, Abram's has found at least six. In particular, I have to give credit to Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning who, in their performances gave us something to care about. It created a central focal point for the drama and story to unfold, just as Spielberg's best movies did.
The flick of course, also brought with it, a big budget and special effects not possible when Spielberg made movies like E.T. and Close Encounters. Abrams stages the action well and holds back on the shaky cam stuff he did in Star Trek. The monster is appropriately creepy, threatening, and kinda lovable. And the film has a few truly great jump scare moments.
This is not my favorite movie of the Summer(well, because the Summer isn't over yet so how would I know?) But if I had a kid and could only take him/her to one movie this summer, it would be Super 8... and it's great for everyone else too.
P.S. LENS FLARE!!!!!