After setting some records in the mid-90s earlier in the week, West Michigan is in the midst of a big cool off. Driving to Holland MI after lunch, the Bravada put the heat on. And it was needed. (grin) Still, after the movie, we came out to out sunshine and blue skies -- welcome to Fall. (evil grin)
Super 8 [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre #3, Saturday 12 June 2011, 2:15pm
J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg had a 1970s love child involving a Super 8 movie camera. This much anticipated movie also featured a lot of mystery -- the first two trailers didn't give away much. This is getting so rare today that I was even pissed at the latest trailers which showed any hint of Who's In The Boxcar?
In playing the movie name game, all the current reviewers want to compare this to Spielberg's E.T.. But that's the wrong movie comparison. This is The Goonies and Jaws Remake Dawn of the Dead. OK, so that last one isn't Spielberg. But so what? As I've said repeatedly of films this year -- what Super 8 is, is Super 8. It is what it is.
And what it is, is terrific. First -- the kids are perfect. Good lord, I went to junior high with these kids. It's perfect. As is their attempt at film making. (grin) You know, I've made one film in my life. A 20-minute documentary in high school, mostly shot with a rented Canon 1014 Super 8 camera. Trust me, those kids would've killed to have a 1014 (or a Nikon R10). I didn't get a good look at the first Super 8 camera, but it was something like a Sankyo -- decent enough. But the second camera they had to use was one of those rear thumb trigger Kodak Ektasound Super 8 sound cameras. Totally cheesy.
And before we get any further, let me just say that I was pissed by the train wreck. No Way Do You Survive driving a 1970s pickup head into a train -- especially when you made the fuel tank explode. In the last few years, I've seen three great train wrecks. (1) The Fugitive -- they derailed a real train and Harrison Ford had one take to run away. (grin) (2) Hancock -- after Will Smith punches the train to stop it, the collateral damage as the cars slide around and stack up behind the broken locomotive. "That looks expensive," Will Smith laments. (3) And the repeated explosions aboard the Chicago commuter train in Source Code were fun. (I'll even say I enjoyed the "flaming death train" in Spielberg's War of the Worlds.) But... the train wreck in Super 8 is way over the top. Boxcars don't pole vault like that. However, I can forgive this and reach for more popcorn.
And that's where the fun begins. Because really, you can't question anything that goes on this film. It looks like it'll be a photo realistic feature, given the care to the 1970s decor and set dressing, but's it a ride from one end of this Ohio town to the other. Actually, it was filmed in West Virginia, but who's counting?
I said at the beginning that this is Jaws. Spielberg's first megahit worked because the shark didn't and we never got to see the shark much until late in the second half. You've got the whole government/military conspiracy and the massively inappropriate reaction -- hell, they're rolling tanks through the neighborhood shooting at everything -- a la Outbreak or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Of course, such devastation is popcorn stuff for Americans, because we DON'T ever see tanks destroying our towns and cities.
This isn't the movie I thought it'd be. I thought it'd all be about the cover-up of something in the 70s falling apart in modern times. Instead, it's a love letter to the late 70s -- a true period piece. Blondie! "My Sharona"! Electronic football! (Never saw the fascination with that handheld game, but I knew kids who played it incessantly at school.)
You'll be on the verge of walking out of the theatre, wanting to rail against how come no one ever heard of this event, because there's no way to cover this up, not with all that TV coverage. But Abrams and Spielberg have one last gem for you that will make you feel much better. Take your SF metaphor -- either the Oracle's cookies for Neo in The Matrix or the flashy-flashy device from Men In Black. But whichever you choose:
Do Not Get Up when the credits start. You want to stay. It's the quintessential Dr. Phil Special.
And that's all I'll say of Super 8. No spoilers required. It's great popcorn fare. The Summer of 2011 is doing just FINE for big movies.
Oh -- and it was really good popcorn.