Plot summary (from the studio): Acclaimed filmmakers Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams join forces in this extraordinary tale of friendship, mystery and adventure. Super 8 tells the story of six friends who accidentally film a train wreck only to discover that something unimaginable escaped during the crash. Now the only thing more mysterious than what it is – is what it wants.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Kyle Chandler delivered a pretty good performance. I know him as the coach from Friday Night Lights, but I’ve never actually watched that show before so I didn’t know how good of an actor Chandler was. He brought the right amount of authority to the role as deputy sheriff, and also was appropriately ambiguous in his relationship with his son Joe. He loved Joe, but at the same time was distant because of his wife’s death.
- The Kaznyk family dynamic was a nice detail, IMO. It was interesting to see Charles’ (the filmmaker of the group) hectic, yet loving, home life compared to Joe’s quiet, lonely, empty one. Those scenes certainly didn’t have to be in the film, but they added to character development and were therefore welcome.
- Elle Fanning was the only one of the child actors that was actually watchable, IMO, and deserves some props. She was the only one that I could buy as a teenager in both words and actions.
- I know the film was meant as an homage to Spielberg’s earlier work, but it didn’t measure up at all. I mean, it wasn’t even close. I know a lot of people praised the acting of Joel Courtney and Ryan Griffiths, but I couldn’t stand either of them. Courtney just looked like he was trying waaaay too hard to come off as earnest and innocent (plus his HUGE nose was highly distracting), while Griffiths came off as a precocious adult-wannabe that made me roll my eyes every time he opened his mouth. I realize I’m in the minority here, but ugh… I couldn’t stand watching these guys for 2 hours!
- This has been talked about a lot too, but I’m going to mention it anyway. That train wreck… man it looked so overblown and fake that it took me out of the story almost instantly.
- Once the Air Force moved in, the film had a distinct X-Files feel to it, what with the government conspiracy about aliens, the attempted cover-up, etc. But without Mulder and Scully-type characters to lead the investigation, I didn’t really care about that angle at all. (And no, the kids didn’t count because they weren’t interesting enough as characters.)
- I get that the movie was about the kids and this major event that was supposed to bond them together or whatever, but as I just said, I didn’t care about them. With E.T., I loved Elliot and cried along with him when his best friend left. With Goonies, I liked every member of the group and wanted them to get the treasure to save their homes. But with Super 8…I wasn’t the least bit invested in any of the kids and subsequently didn’t give a rat’s ass what happened to them.
Frankly, I’m surprised at the relatively positive reviews Super 8 received. I thought this was a terrible film because of the dull leading characters and paper-thin plot (notice I haven’t even mentioned the cheesiness of the alien because I realize that thing was basically incidental to the rest of the movie). A true Spielberg piece would have been just the opposite, of course, which is why this just doesn’t measure up to his classics in any way. I give it 2 stars out of 5.