Before I saw Super 8, I heard many comments that it was just a rehash of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. After seeing the movie, I can see where that criticism fits. I actually found the movie to be a mash-up of E.T., Cloverfield and Stand By Me, containing only the worst parts of each. So what went wrong?
To say that this movie is a bit childish is an understatement, and that really has nothing to do with the children who are actors in it. Their performances actually seem quite good compared to the adults. Admittedly, I was sucked into the plot towards the beginning. The characters seemed engaging enough and the premise was humorous and interesting, punctured with a hint of dark and forboding. So far, so good. The train wreck begins with, aptly, the train wreck. First of all, it’s simply over the top. I’ve seen film accounts of actual train wrecks, and I’ve witnessed train wrecks in person. The resemblance of the train wreck in Super 8 to any real one is nonexistant. If Hollywood hasn’t figured it out yet, we know they can do special effects and incredible things with CGI. The real talent is in knowing when to use them.
From there, the story devolves from something interesting into a mindless action film. All the usual suspects show up, mostly badly acted. The dialog is awash in action-hero one liners. The story goes away and is replaced by a poorly blended melange of weak tension, Cheech & Chong humor, bad acting and special effects. The cherry on top of this sundae of disinterest is a very tart and overbearing nugget of preachiness and moral outrage at the human race. It seems J. J. Abrams is only outdone by James Cameron when it comes to distate for our innately human humanity.
After all that, I sat through the credits, too. As they scrolled by and the movie after the movie began, I honestly started to wonder if the whole point of Super 8 was to allow the director to go back to making a Junior High zombie film. With a $50 million budget. Unless you downloaded this movie for free or are watching it at a friend’s house, skip it.