Grouchy's Review of Super 8
The best Steven Spielberg fantasies appeal to both children and adults; I can't imagine why anyone over 15 would really enjoy "Super 8," director J.J. Abrams's homage to Spielberg films. For younger kids, it's the kind of movie they will see and recall fondly for decades. And then one day -- 20 or 30 years from now, long after its special effects are passé -- they will catch it again on TV and wonder, "My God, why was I so entranced with this thing?"
The story begins well. A group of middle-school kids in Lillian, Ohio, circa 1979, are using the Super 8 film format to make a zombie movie. A train approaches the old depot where they are filming, crashes ... and something escapes from one of the cars. Soon after, objects and animals begin to vanish from Lillian. Up to this point, Abrams' script is warm, fuzzy, and refreshing, a throwback to movies like "Stand by Me" and Spielberg's "E.T."
But then the convoluted plot gets in the way. And special effects begin to dominate. And "Super 8" demonstrates that no one can make a Spielberg fantasy anymore -- not even Spielberg, who is one of the producers.
Although it's apparent that money was poured into the making of this film, the motion-capture monster is not at all frightening or convincing, at some points resembling a Ray Harryhausen creation from the early '60s. The story goes from sweet and intriguing to frantic and clichéd.
The zombie movie that the kids had been making has more entertainment value than Abrams's misfire. Unlike the silly alien in this film, Abrams and Spielberg discover that, despite their best efforts, they can't go home again.
Expanded Review At: Grouchyeditor.com