Jump to content

Super 8


Peter T Chattaway
 Share

Recommended Posts

I finally got around to seeing Super 8. My brief thoughts...

It reminded me of a cross between Stand By Me and Cloverfield. Neither I nor my friends knew what to expect because of all the secrecy surrounding the movie (plus I had made sure I didn't read any spoilers/reviews). I agree opus that the father didn't really have a focused role. I thought the ending was disappointing and abrupt although, unlike my friends who thought it was "cheesy", I did like the part where the father and son are together and the locket is being pulled away and the locket opens to reveal the mother's picture. I also liked the scene where the son slaps the girl.

He finds no mercy

And he's lost in the crowd

With an armoured heart of metal

He finds he's running out of odd-numbered daisies

From which to pull the petals

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 99
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

On Friday, my parents and my two youngest siblings were in an Amtrak train that was hit on the side by a truck. They are all fine, thank God. One of the other passengers said it "felt like a movie".

Now, the train did not derail. We don't know exactly how fast the truck was going -- it did try to stop, but skidded for over 100 yards and still struck the side of the train directly. (My family members may -- may -- owe their life to the fact that the train didn't derail.)

This got me thinking about the train crash in Super 8. I was already skeptical that the train would have derailed under the circumstances that take place in this movie. Now, I am even more so. The pickup truck was either stopped or moving pretty slowly at the time of the crash. What's more, it was traveling directly opposite to the train--not perpendicular, as this truck was. And in Super 8, the train was a fully loaded freight train, weighing many more tons than the Amtrak passenger train my family was on. Yet, the Super 8 train derails spectacularly. Yet another movie science fail?

FWIW, Unstoppable was the movie that was replaying in my mind during the uncertain few hours before I knew for sure they were all OK. Probably because that movie really strives for realism.

Edited by David Smedberg

That's just how eye roll.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This got me thinking about the train crash in Super 8. I was already skeptical that the train would have derailed under the circumstances that take place in this movie. Now, I am even more so. The pickup truck was either stopped or moving pretty slowly at the time of the crash. What's more, it was traveling directly opposite to the train--not perpendicular, as this truck was. And in Super 8, the train was a fully loaded freight train, weighing many more tons than the Amtrak passenger train my family was on. Yet, the Super 8 train derails spectacularly. Yet another movie science fail?

First, it's wonderful to hear that your family is safe. This indeed could have been tragic.

As to the "science fail"... Here's a photo of a Metrolink vs. Jeep Cherokee collision that happened in 2005, about a mile from where I work, on the very line that I now take into work.

DC200501261006439933.jpg

The Cherokee had been abandoned on the tracks (the driver claimed he was attempting suicide, then changed his mind). The metrolink hit at about 30 mph, causing the cars to jackknife, killing 11 and injuring nearly 200. True, this is a lighter train than the freight depicted in Super 8, but I, for one, would not want to be near something similar.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not-Quite-Super 8

I’m not impressed by Abrams’s C.G.I., but, rather, by his B.S.U. (Blowing Shit Up). The scene in question, early in the film, is superbly choreographed, with railroad cars flying balletically and careening into each other, scattering debris that becomes part of the sublime catastrophe, and it keeps going on and on, in a remarkably long and intricate chain reaction that unleashes metallic menace from unexpected angles and conjures the only moment of real fear that the movie’s kids won’t all come out all right. What’s impressive about the scene, in addition to its sheer kinetic delight, is Abrams’s own evident joy: it’s the only moment in the film where his visual conception and artistic imagination outstrips the demands of the script—and, above all, the film’s moral tone—to evoke the dark side of pleasure in destruction.

The movie’s producer is Steven Spielberg, and “Super 8” shares with Spielberg’s work an absence of Id: its motives and resolutions are sociable, reasonable, and humane—extending all the way to the (thinly conceived and poorly revealed) monster. I wish that Abrams found a way to tap into the absolute otherness of the Other; even the homemade zombie movie that the kids shoot, and that we see at the end, is tamed and tamped-down, despite its amateur gore. And the closest he comes to admitting the joy of evil—his own latent monstrosity, the possibility that he really might enjoy seeing his sweet young heroes get bashed around at his own almighty directorial hands—is in the train-wreck scene, wtih all its catastrophic magnificence. The scene’s extra-moral excitement is precisely in its excess, digital or otherwise. . . .

Richard Brody, New Yorker, June 22

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David Poland puts the film's Spielbergianism in perspective:

If Super 8 is an homage to Spielberg, great. I get that. We all got that. So how did it stack up against that standard? This is not “I like that movie.” Plenty of people like the movie. As I noted in my gently negative review, there are plenty of things I liked about it. But if we’re reliving Uncle Steve’s genius, does this film deliver on that?

You know, it’s not like we haven’t been here before. Zemeckis, Robbins, Columbus, Silberling, Sonnenfeld, other newcomers, and later work by Dante, Donner, Kasdan, Bay, and lately, Eastwood have all been supported and built via some Spielberg largesse. And their films with him have, for the most part, contained the sentimentalism that is Spielberg’s clearest trademark.

So do the things that JJ Abrams does in Super 8 that add to the Spielberg tone live up to that legacy? We’ve seen Spielberg do kids and misunderstood monsters and aliens and threats to the planet. If we love what Spielberg did with them – 20/20/rose-colored hindsight for some critics – does Abrams’ take deliver as well… visually… but more importantly, emotionally?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, at those earlier points in the story, the idea that the alien wasn't just out for destruction and was a victim had been established; they didn't come from nowhere at the end.

My problem wasn't that the alien's character comes out of nowhere. I might take a stab at expressing my problem by saying that the alien's behavior is arbitrary and unconvincing, and the confrontation and subsequent resolution is tacked-on, unrevelatory and uncathartic.

I agree with this. I was with the "Wait, what was that?" kid. :) And I didn't like how there were certain "grand gestures" made without anything really done to earn them, if you know what I mean.

I agree with SDG that the necklace bit at the end, in particular, was a total crock. I came home and wrote at my LiveJournal: "Like heck I'd give up my dead mother's necklace to help a people-eating alien build his ship! Let him find his own dang necklace!!"

And yet I still liked the movie pretty well. I don't enjoy being scared every five minutes -- and I scare extremely easily -- but I really liked the kids, and I swooned over Kyle Chandler a lot (shut up, I'm a girl, it's what we do), and in general I found it a fairly satisfying evening. But I'd have enjoyed it much more if they'd stuck to the "kids making a movie" idea and left the monster out.

Edited by Gina
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thoroughly enjoyed most of this, in fact I enjoyed all of it up to the drop-off point about half an hour toward the end. The film as a whole is absolutely ridiculous, but enjoyable, and I can't wait to read the thread and see if ANY of that ending makes sense. And even if it does somehow make sense, well, it's still pretty lame.

Loved the kids, in an E.T. meets The Goonies kinda way. Didn't love 'em as much as the E.T. kids I guess - they are classic in my mind.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with you Persona. I had a blast at the film, but was also a little let down by the abruptness of the ending.

And I'm surprised there's been little mention of the kids' completed zombie film during the credits. What a fun piece (and it looked like they stayed faithful to the scenes we had seen filmed, too).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with you Persona. I had a blast at the film, but was also a little let down by the abruptness of the ending.

And I'm surprised there's been little mention of the kids' completed zombie film during the credits. What a fun piece (and it looked like they stayed faithful to the scenes we had seen filmed, too).

In my heart of hearts, I'm really hoping that JJ Abrams had those kids actually make that film on their own. It really had the feel of some of the stories my friends and I put together at that age, and not so much the feel of an adult trying to imitate what kids might do.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with you Persona. I had a blast at the film, but was also a little let down by the abruptness of the ending.

And I'm surprised there's been little mention of the kids' completed zombie film during the credits. What a fun piece (and it looked like they stayed faithful to the scenes we had seen filmed, too).

In my heart of hearts, I'm really hoping that JJ Abrams had those kids actually make that film on their own. It really had the feel of some of the stories my friends and I put together at that age, and not so much the feel of an adult trying to imitate what kids might do.

Huh. I guess I musta bolted too fast.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's hilarious, Stef-- I took my 14 y.o. and 11 y.o. to see the film last week, and we left before the zom film played, too. It was 10:15 p.m. and time to get home, but I remember seeing Abrams's credit and the one after it before I got out of the piss-smelling seat I was in, so I think I gave the film a proper interval of post-denoument attention. Post-credit gimmicks are stupid, anyway. What's funny is that an hour or so after we got home, it occurred to me that there had been no payoff with the film, and I shook my head thinking that they probably tacked the zombies on somewhere at the end after we'd left.

It's not a bad film, but the problem is that it's so close to actually being a good summer thriller that you can taste it, and thus the disappointment is sharper. The film is under-plotted in some areas, and with a film like this, plot is central. There should have been more to "solve" or "resolve" than just getting the girl out of the mausoleum-lair; Spielberg/Lucas/Dante would have had more moving parts going. The two dads would have played a more active role in the resolution, and the long scenes of the kids running through town with tanks shooting at nothing would have been pared down considerably. There's too much casual profanity, as Steve noted, and the creature design was terribly uninspired, which is a sort of death knell for a film like this. Abrams could have taken Guillermo del Toro out for a drink, had him sketch something on a cocktail napkin, and I'd bet good money it would have blown away the monster Abrams put on the screen. The script also suffers from what I'd call "The Law of Chekhov's Gun in Inferior Narratives." Under this Law, to create the right third-act payoff, you need to shoehorn something into the first act, and the aesthetically clumsy will find a way to jam it in there whether it makes any sense or not. Two bits in particular-- the reference to the teacher's dungeon while they were looking at what they thought was his corpse and the dog, who appears only once in jumping up on the dad, and then has his bowl overfilled by the boy-- are introduced clumsily.

The film's got two great images-- the opening one of the "Days Since Last Accident" board being turned back to 0, and the board filled with lost dog flyers.

But those scenes where the boys watch Alice act and are taken by her transformation are really, really special. It's a neat illustration of how and why people become infatuated with actors.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Russ, spot on. I agree with every syllable, I think.

BTW, I also left before the credits got underway. Then a week or so later, having heard about it, I stopped by the end of the film while waiting for another film to begin. I liked it but of course it doesn't fundamentally change Super 8 itself.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I truly enjoyed this movie. It was no Star Trek for J.J. Abrams, but it excelled at welling up the emotional fervor I used to have as a kid for those movies like Goonies, Stand By Me and so forth. It was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I came out being satisfied. I may not have been swayed by the logic of the plot (or lack of) but I was swayed by the emotional (could I maybe even say existential?) logic of it. And, I am starting to realize the beauty of those attributes in opposition to the "reason (and logic) is god" mentality that The Enlightenment gave to us. Do I wish the plot was better? Yes. Did that detract from my enjoyment of the film or my overall satisfaction? No.

The funny thing is, while most people highly respect and get excited about Steven Spielberg being tied to a project, I have the exact opposite response. One of trepidation and cynicism. I have been burned by Spielberg one too many times as a viewer. Not to mention how he has been known to treat other directors tied to a project that he is producing (basically bullying them into doing it his way--Poltergeist and Tobe Hooper, anyone?) I am torn on the supposed Lincoln project Spielberg is helming. On one side, I don't like the idea of Lincoln being turned into this great abolitionist of slaves, because, historically, he wasn't in the least bit, he even stated that he would have let the slavery question lie there if it meant keeping the Union together. On the other side, I really, really like Daniel Day Lewis and James Spader. No need for explanation there. So I don't know what I will do about that, but I kind of wonder what Abrams' experience was with Spielberg. Hopefully it was good and Abrams was still able to keep his creative license while taking advice from Spielberg. Told you Spielberg made me cynical...haha.

"Our age not only does not have a very sharp eye for the almost imperceptible intrusions of grace, it no longer has much feeling for the nature of the violences which precede and follow them.” ~ Flannery O’Connor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Saw this with the Mrs. last night.

Sweet, scary, and nostalgic, this film is a love letter to the Steven Spielberg films of the 80's. Great acting by the kids, especially Dakota Fanning as Alice, a lot of humor, and well-orchestrated overlapping dialogue are huge plusses, along with a sweet teen romance. An undeveloped creature that should elicit our sympathy but doesn't, and a one-dimensional military that makes dumb decisions are big minuses. Look at "E.T" and "Stand by Me" for what this film does well, but "Iron Giant" shows clearly what it should have done better. In "Iron Giant," the relationship between the kid and the creature has heft, and the creature has some sort of inner life that helps us sympathize with it. Neither one happens here, so we're not rooting for the creature the way we should be by the end of the film. Not perfect, but worth the price of admission. Also, the action sequences were spectacular.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Saw this with the Mrs. last night.

Sweet, scary, and nostalgic, this film is a love letter to the Steven Spielberg films of the 80's. Great acting by the kids, especially Dakota Fanning as Alice, a lot of humor, and well-orchestrated overlapping dialogue are huge plusses, along with a sweet teen romance. An undeveloped creature that should elicit our sympathy but doesn't, and a one-dimensional military that makes dumb decisions are big minuses. Look at "E.T" and "Stand by Me" for what this film does well, but "Iron Giant" shows clearly what it should have done better. In "Iron Giant," the relationship between the kid and the creature has heft, and the creature has some sort of inner life that helps us sympathize with it. Neither one happens here, so we're not rooting for the creature the way we should be by the end of the film. Not perfect, but worth the price of admission. Also, the action sequences were spectacular.

I absolutely agree about the creature. They had just barely made it out to not be a complete villian, nevermind making me care all that much for it.

One of the things I found interesting about the film was that it was so nostalgic, and had so many scenes an ideas that I've seen before. Yet it also managed to be at least somewhat fresh, with some surprises here and there.

It was a fun enough movie.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, my wife was interested in this, so we went as a family to see it, both daughters in tow. (The older is 14 and the younger is 11.) As a light summer movie it wasn't bad. The criticisms about the resolution are well-founded, but if you think of it more from a journey rather than a destination perspective, it helps. One thing did strike me that I don't remember seeing mentioned anywhere here: This movie has as serious case of Smurfette syndrome as I've seen in a long while. (And the one girl, it almost goes without saying, has to be rescued by the boys.)

Edited by bowen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing did strike me that I don't remember seeing mentioned anywhere here: This movie has as serious case of Smurfette syndrome as I've seen in a long while.

Ah, hm. You mean, like 9?

So, does this mean we should watch out for Smurfette Syndrome in the next movie with a 7 prominently in the title? :)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't see 9, so no, 9 didn't come to mind for me. Perhaps the number in the title is the multiple of male to female characters. cool.gif

(As a side note, when I mentioned "seeing mentioned anywhere here", I meant in relation to this movie in particular.)

Edited by bowen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't see 9, so no, 9 didn't come to mind for me. Perhaps the number in the title is the multiple of male to female characters. cool.gif

9 was the movie that caused me to independently come up with the term "Smurfette Syndrome," then Google it and ascertain that it was already in use (though the more common term, connected with a notable NYTimes piece, is the less euphonious "Smurfette principle").

(As a side note, when I mentioned "seeing mentioned anywhere here", I meant in relation to this movie in particular.)

Right, I followed that.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 was the movie that caused me to independently come up with the term "Smurfette Syndrome," then Google it and ascertain that it was already in use (though the more common term, connected with a notable NYTimes piece, is the less euphonious "Smurfette principle").

I remember. I had heard of the Smurfette principle elsewhere, though I couldn't be exactly sure where anymore, but I'm sure I picked up "Smurfette Syndrome" from you. "Syndrome", in addition to being doubly euphonious (picking up the "m" as well as the "s" in "Smurfette"), is also more descriptive in that the word "syndrome" is associated with disease and malady, which "principle" is not. Given that, even though "principle" has right of seniority, I much prefer "syndrome" to "principle".

Edited by bowen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

Well, I finally got around to seeing this (and reading the thread). Sorry guys, the thread got a little (or a lot) bogged down with review/spoiler arguments, all of which could have been resolved as quickly as Super 8 was. Actually, the more I think about it, the review/spoiler arguments in this thread parallel this movie pretty well. There was a lot of discussion about nothing with a quick and unfulfilled conclusion of "agree to disagree," bad discussions happen. ;)

I completely disagree with Wells, well, all except for the last act; that I agree with. The beginning never captivated me. All I could think of was that this was a tribute to coming of age films but aligning more with Stand By Me. Then the mysterious monster alien shows up in a similar plot device to Lost and Jaws. I only wish there would have been more black smoke and a bigger payoff.

I do not often dislike movies. Maybe I am not discerning. Maybe I am not in tune but this film made me feel like I can evaluate. It was disappointing and dissatisfying. If felt like a remake and it was only in those moments that I felt like I could engage in the movie. However, that often took on a daydream type of feeling. I was more captivated by my own nostalgia for that era than anything the characters were going through.

I would happily watch a whole movie that consists of just these kids making a zombie movie (according to [url=http://www.npr.org/2011/06/13/137108820/j-j-abrams-the-super-career-of-a-movie-crazed-kid]

This is precisely what I was wishing for as each minute passed.

Ultimately, I would have really liked this film if it unfolded within the movie the kids were making.

I don’t typically make top 10 lists (although hanging around here continues to shift that thought) but if I did make lists this would end up on my top 10 disappointments. Maybe my Top 10 disappointments of All time for mainstream, commercial releases.

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was disappointing and dissatisfying. If felt like a remake and it was only in those moments that I felt like I could engage in the movie. However, that often took on a daydream type of feeling. I was more captivated by my own nostalgia for that era than anything the characters were going through.

I'm with you, except with more boredom than nostalgia.

I still think this whole film could have been entirely better if only Joe's father could have kept reading about everything in the newspaper one day in advance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was disappointing and dissatisfying. If felt like a remake and it was only in those moments that I felt like I could engage in the movie. However, that often took on a daydream type of feeling. I was more captivated by my own nostalgia for that era than anything the characters were going through.

I'm with you, except with more boredom than nostalgia.

I still think this whole film could have been entirely better if only Joe's father could have kept reading about everything in the newspaper one day in advance.

Yeah, it was boredom that stirred the nostalgia of my own childhood. Maybe it was an instinctual self-defense mechanism that kicked in to save me from this movie.

...the kind of film criticism we do. We are talking about life, and more than that the possibility of abundant life." -M.Leary

"Dad, how does she move in mysterious ways?"" -- Jude (my 5-year-old, after listening to Mysterious Ways)

[once upon a time known here as asher]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
MP.Super8_.11.re-lettered.flattened.sm_.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...