8/17/11

SUPER 8 - REVIEW


J.J. Abrams: clever, sometimes great writer, good filmmaker but most importantly genius promoter. The man could make you want to watch anything with a single poster or a teaser/promo. When it comes to marketing a gimmicky concept, you can't beat J.J..

Look at Lost: amazing build-up, uninspired first season. Cloverfield? Brilliant promo, pedestrian film. Star Trek? Huge expectations, decent-enough silly romp. There seems to be a pattern of disappointment following every great build-up and I'm sorry to say Super 8 is no exception.

Some of the blame for Super 8's failure to impress could be put on Steven Spielberg who might have influenced the film positively (the kids are great and the film definitely has a lot of heart) but also doomed it to being just an E.T. B movie, nothing more. I'm not saying it's Mac & Me but still. Abrams himself should have known better.

With a film like this, in which the main "attraction", in this case an alien, is hidden from us since the teaser trailer for the longest time possible, the overall quality of the film vastly depends on that payoff. Yet here we are, years after Cloverfield and we're presented with yet again another rubbish CGI dinosaury alien. For me, knowing how good both J.J. and The 'Berg can be and how smart their works often are this is a pretty unforgivable mess-up.

I get that Abrams was going for an E.T.esque retro feel and, for the most part, he does that very, very well. Everything involving the kids making their own film, Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning's relationships with their fathers, the train crash, the build-up...that's all terrifically done and the film is worth watching for that alone.

Alas, it's when you finally get what the monster is that you realise the director has gone and done a Cloverfield once again. Putting us through yet another generic CGI reptile movie when the style of the film itself called for something either faceless or retro, I'm talking either practical effects or stop-motion here, is just lazy.

Meanwhile Fringe is on its 4th season and J.J. Abrams' genius can only be found on the small screen once again. The new Spielberg? I think not. The day Abrams makes something as good as Indiana Jones or Minority Report we'll talk, in the meantime Alias season 2 and Fringe still exist so it's fine, I can wait.

Overall, not a bad film: great looking, cute, lots of heart, decent child actors. But a missed opportunity to create something truly special nonetheless. Yawn.

Btw SPOILER ALERT: E.T. goes home.

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