Friday, June 17, 2011

Super 8... Super Great!

Steven Spielberg and J.J Abrams
J.J Abrams and Steven Spielberg team up to scare us with a cautionary tale of tolerance, acceptance and good old fashioned monsters from outer space.

On Originality

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): I’ve seen this before. An alien comes to earth and terrorizes a small town. No wait...an alien comes to a small town and a group of children have to discover the truth. No...hold on, only a child can make an alien understand that all humans aren’t bad and that he can go home again. Okay, so I’ve seen this before, just not all in the same movie. While Super 8 has many elements of films I’ve seen before, this particular blend and the delivery of such, is unique enough to be called an original movie. I didn’t sit through this film thinking or comparing it to other movies...I was too busy engrossed in this unique presentation.

ARTH VADER (AV): "Unique presentation" huh? I can't ride THAT boxcar with you Pontificator, but this movie was quite familiar. I think I found SUPER 8's true originality was in it's take on a familiar story. *Spoiler Alert!* I have always loved the idea of the 'misunderstood alien' but I didn't need all the clich├ęs; the hometown cop-turned-unwilling hero, the evil military industrial complex and it's mindless minions, the not-so-mad mad scientist. The kid's are the ones with the 'real story' trying to convince us stupid adults of what's really going on. Too many hollywood stereo types to try and edge by.

Casting, Directing and Acting

AV: I really dug the casting and fresh new faces of the actors, especially the kids. There a moments that are purely overacted for me but I didn't mind as it had a very 1950's red-menace/martians are coming flavor.That ain't all bad because the directing was razor sharp, playing to the audience's willingness to accept and gullibility, we jumped when we saw "the monster" and laughed when we were supposed to. When it's J.J. Abrams, I don't mind being manipulated (oh, that doesn't sound right). Pontificator, what were your thoughts?

TP: The casting was perfect. There wasn’t an instant when I felt an actor didn’t fit the role being played. This was not a film of mega stars, but everyone in it became a star, completely submerged into the character being played...a testament to top notch acting of everyone involved. Nobody stood out, and everyone stood out...and the audience was the fortunate recipient of this. The directing was superb and everything I expected from the big names attached to this movie.

Special Effects

TP:
Awesome. The movie was story driven from the onset, but when it was time for effects, it delivered. My jaw dropped during the train wreck scene...easily the best action sequence and special effects scene of the entire movie. Being mostly driven by the story and subplots, there wasn’t a huge need for over-the-top special effects. Instead, crafty camera angles and direction did much of the work to convey the “effect” intended. More effects arrived later in the movie and didn’t looked rushed, shoddy or fake. A very good job all-around.

AV: Now I'm on board with you! That train sequence was first rate. It went on for like four minutes and felt like it happened in a flash. Very real sense of danger as sound played a VERY key role during this segment. The grinding metal and the banging thud of train parts raining down from being blown into the air was riveting. The alien *spoiler alert!* in true J.J.Abrams form was hideous and fascinating all at once, terrifying yet oddly compelling, just like the now classic pants-filler Cloverfield, I was on my seat's edge.

Taking A Deeper Look

TP: This movie had it all. It started off dramatically with a child dealing with the death of his mother...and subsequently, how his father copes with the loss. Then my mind was blown away by the incredible action of the train wreck. The comedy was prevalent throughout, sometimes happening unexpectedly. An example is when the alien is attacking a military bus and killing soldiers while our heroes, a group of children, are trying to escape out the back from inside the caged section of the bus. As the alien crushes another soldier to a pulp, one of them screams “Another one...dead!”...totally hilarious in his delivery ala “we’re all going to die...there’s no hope” mixed with “hurry the hell up and get us outta here.” The laughter during the scene was audible throughout the theater.

AP: Not too much here for me with this movie but I will say this: I had an odd feeling in this movie that the alien 'monster' was oddly similar to the big bad crawly thingie in Cloverfield. Could this be (gulp!) a prequel? Hard to say, Ponty, but he was awfully familiar. I know you had some thoughts on the time period, Pontificator?

TP: It was a good call to set this movie back in the 1970’s giving a feel of innocence and wonderment that has been lost in the decades since. Missing microwaves blamed on a Soviet invasion?...classic. I felt sympathy for the alien after learning the truth, and it was brilliance to offset this with the realization that he was taking people for his food supply for the trip home. The juxtaposition of emotions was... fascinating.

Looking Ahead: Sequels

AV:
If I could be so bold as to stand on my box of suds here for a second, there is no viable follow-up here. The movie, like E.T., is a stand-alone story. We all regret being trained by the Hollywood autocracy to look for the "part II" of every movie, especially if we like it. But sometimes, the final curtain should be just that...final.

TP: Agreed Arth, there could be a sequel...but the fantastic part is that it was such a great, well-rounded story with no loose ends, that there really doesn’t have to be. I say leave it as is...and just enjoy the ride.

THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Super 8: A great story to humanize the movie from just being an alien monster film, great special effects that blow the mind and keeps your attention, and superb directing and acting that round this movie out to be great entertainment. With nothing derogatory to say, I have no choice but to give it nine busted blocks...out of ten.

ARTH VADER Rates Super 8:
Special effects are really good in SUPER 8, acting by fresh new faces and a few familiar ones, makes this movie refreshingly… human, if not a bit campy. I can't say it gets high marks from me for originality but in the end, SUPER is... SUPER. I give it a seven, giving it a combo score of... eight busted blocks.

Super8: 8/10 Busted Blocks
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