Super 8: The film that saved my summer

The film that brings the good stuff back.

Thank god. This is at least one summer that will not be completely dominated by constant barrages of Harry Potter and Super hero films. Thank god.

Can you believe it? An original screenplay set in 1979 Midwest by J.J. Abrams  that got turned into a great movie produced by Spielberg. This is the “few and far between” summer movie you’ve been waiting for. It’s not a dud by far and is for practically any age group. It has just the right balance or tension, sexuality, fear, curiosity, strong acting, fun, vulgarity, “make-you-jumps,” a mysterious plot, and a feel good message with minimal cheesiness. The musical score? Top-notch. The sound design and mixing? I’m considering this for Oscar nominations in those categories.

Super 8 blends The Goonies, Close Encounter of the Third Kind, E.T., and Jurassic Park. The young actors kick ass, especially the leading lady who is only 13 in real life. Keep an eye on her. She’ll be the next Emma Watson or Christina Ricci or Natalie Portman. And some of those comparisons may be insulting because the girl in Super 8, Elle Fanning, is awesome — probably better than her sister.

Do not miss this movie in the theaters. It was made for the theaters. This is classic adventure and sci-fi and just feels big. It’s not “ground-breaking” anything, but simply does a genre justice that has been long ignored for at least a decade. It is worth the ticket price. It does not depend on the visual effects, though they rock. The film keeps your attention and carries you through the story with great locations and acting.

I love J.J. Abrams and Spielberg for having the decency to NOT make it 3-D. Another director would have, but not Abrams. God Bless him, because it easily could have been. In case you didn’t konw, 3-D, how it is today anyway, deadens the colors, reduces sharpness, and dims the screen because of how the glasses operate and have to be of two different shades to work. Verdict = stay away. (For more on 3-D tech, check out Roger Ebert’s View and Christopher Nolan’s weariness.)

This is not a perfect movie, of course. There were two places and two places only that I would have done things differently, and remember, these are subjective arguments. You may not have an issue with this points, but I did. Now they were small things, but things that irked my nonetheless. I think they may be bigger deals to me than they actually should be just because in contrast with the rest of the film, which was sparkling in my opinion, any blemishes stick out like a sore thumb.

Spoiler Alert! ****

My first issue was where the “subterranean beast/alien” is holding our protagonist boy, Joe. When he is picked up in the tunnels by the creature, another one of the several parts of the film that actually elicited a real emotional response from the audience, I couldn’t help but wonder why the kid would not have mentioned the African-American biologist that had been working for years with the alien. The alien knew in the end (I’d like to think) that the biologist which caused the accident meant well and wanted the alien’s freedom, so I wondered why Joe did not mention his name. You can keep almost all of the other dialogue that Joe said while in the clutches of the alien. What I would have sputtered had I been lifted off the ground by such a gargantuan creature, would be “Hey! The biologist! Overmyer! We are like him! We want you free to! We understand!”

But as my fiancé mentioned to me, something I must have missed, was that when you touch the beast you can see into his mind and he can see into yours, so I guess that such dialogue was not necessary. But still, I would have thought that if I was Joe. I feel like Joe would have been scared and would have mentioned that. What we got was one of the scenes that borders cheesy in the movie. It was a little much. Go see it and tell me I am wrong.

The second thing I did not like and kept me from calling this film “better than anything else I’ve seen in 2011” was the total lack of a dénouement. There were three pages of script that I am convinced were totally scrapped or non-existant, because the closure that anybody else would have put at the very end of the film is just not there. I’m not saying have six different endings like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, but, you know what I’m getting at. There should have been a tiny bit more at the end, just to show that the two fathers are getting along, the zombie movie that the kids were working on got finished, and the military was punished by Washington in some way. It could have been done with a “THREE MONTHS LATER” title card and would have given us all some closure. I’m talking two or three more minutes here. Let’s see some smiles for the last time. Let’s get the kids together in a big group for a nice shot one last time. How it ends now it that the Air Force is left as a loose-end and the town is destroyed. But, I mean, what about the people’s lives? Is it really enough that everyone is happy the madness is over and everyone witnessed something incredible (i.e. the alien leaving)? That’s not enough for me.

So I don’t like to give scores out, and I don’t want to start, but until the end, I would have given Super 8 a 9.0/10, but with the lack of the dénouement, it’s got to be 8.5/10. Yes. I am splitting hairs. And I would understand if you gave this movie a 8, but this movie is not a 7. It’s just not. It is not “average.”

Having said that, I know this will be one of the three best movies of the summer. Let’s see if I’m right.

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