Matthew's Review of Super 8
Watching this movie was like going back in time, a time when you went to see a movie without knowing every single detail about it (reminds me of how I had to go way out of my way to avoid seeing all the trailers and tv spots for Hangover 2), and a time when movies about 12 year olds wasn't necessarily a kiddie movie.
The film applies that sense of wonder and "innocence" of 80s kids flicks and applies it to the procedures of modern filmmakers. In other words it has lots of heart and explosions. It packs so many emotionally punches that I'm genuinely upset that I couldn't even shed a tear at certain parts. The film can be best described as Cloverfield meets E.T. and The Goonies. Ironically, I think its because I wasn't too big on those classic 80s flicks helped me enjoy this movie even more because even though these themes aren't exactly fresh, they feel fresh because we haven't seen any of themes used this effectively in the past decade.
It's the story of a bunch of middle schoolers who set out to make a movie, while filming one scene at night, they witness a train crash (that defies physics in every way imaginable, but it was the coolest series of explosions I had ever seen in my life), something got out of the train. And that's all I'm gonna say regarding the plot, you don't need every single detail. Be surprised.
The kids actually feel realistic. We all said "shit" and called each other "pussies" when we were 12 so it was a nice touch to see them do the same. And going into the film I had no idea that this film took place in 1979 and I love that the film never blatantly says so, but you'll pick up on it with details like one civilian blaming the Russians (at least that's when it dawned on me).
The kids were pretty relatable and provided some great banter. The group consists of likable brown eyed nice guy, a bossy fat kid, a short blond kid who I'm pretty sure was supposed to be Michael Bay at age 12 (I'm not even kidding), a scaredy cat that started puberty early, another scaredy cat that we just eventually forget about, and of course the girl next door with daddy issues. It great that all these kids have such distinct personalities and you'll find yourself relating to at least one if not all of them in some way. A particular line "I'll go steal some cash out of my mom's purse" made me think back to my childhood. And holy crap, Ellie Fanning can act. At one point the kids are shooting a scene for their film and she gives this monologue that literally has their jaws dropped and I'm sitting in the audience with the same look on my face.
As for the monster itself, don't read the next paragraph if you don't want to know want to know what it looks likes. I'd describe the monster as baby Clovefield, or think of General Grievous (from 'Revenge of the Sith') with brown alien skin and make him about 3 times larger.
As much as I like this movie, what bugged me was the ending. Don't get me wrong I liked that it cut off without resolving every little detail. But we were able to see that the monster was able to differentiate people who intended to harm it with innocent civilians, so a shot of the sheriff after he gets tossed by the monster or the store clerk that was kidnapped by the creature at the end would've been nice because we're kind of forced to presume they're dead.
Another flaw is that J.J. Abrams has this odd obsession with lens flaring. I found it effective in Star Trek and Mission: Impossible III, but in this flick even though he doesn't over do it, it still does feel unnecessary. At times it looks like there's just something wrong with the screen projector.
Going back to the positives, I'll credit Abrams for able to have the resolution to play out as it did without ruining the movie. It's a bit of an odd pill to swallow, its not bad, but it was just odd to see considering everything that came before it. But it worked for me.
Nitpicks aside Super 8 is the best movie to come out so far this year. Thank you J.J. Abrams. If the rest of the movies that come out this summer are half as close to being as good as this one then, this summer might manage to top the summer of 2008 in terms of the quantity of quality summer movies.