Sunday, June 19, 2011

Super 8

In a summer filled with sequels, I was looking forward something fresh from two of the most talented people in the entertainment world, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg. I guess I'll have to wait a little longer. Written and directed by Mr. Adams with Mr. Spielberg as Executive Producer, "Super 8" comes with huge expectations. And unfortunately it doesn't live up to most of them.

You can see and feel the Spielberg influence everywhere in this film. You might consider Mr. Abrams was paying tribute to his mentor but the film ends up a mixed bag of Mr. Spielberg's greatest hits. From "Jaws" to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.", everything about this film feels like you've seen it before. Throw in a little "Stand By Me" from Rob Reiner and there you have it.

I will say the film's young cast is first rate. The boys have a natural friendship and ease with each other that is honest and refreshing. Elle Fanning is really coming into her own as an actress with a very bright future. The adults don't fare as well. Kyle Chandler (of TV's "Friday Night Lights") might as well be in a TV movie of the week and Noah Emmerich is simply a cartoon villain.

Steven Spielberg is one of my favorite directors but he can easily lay on the heavy sentimentality. You can just feel him pulling the strings in the last five minutes of the film. The over orchestration and abrupt change in attitude of two major characters has his stamp all over it. There is a spectacular train wreck early in the film which pulls you in quickly but is spoiled by the unrealistic moments after the crash. I don't like to give things away but I think you'll know what I mean if you see it. Like "Jaws", the threatening menace is unseen for most of the film which does heighten the suspense but again gets ruined by an "E.T." moment.

I give "Super 8" a not so super 4.

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