Suspension of Disbelief: Super 8
Suspension of Disbelief is a weekly feature, in which we review movies, books, TV shows, and other popular culture for the skeptical teen.
Movie name: Super 8
Director: J.J. Abrams
Actors: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka and Kyle Chandler
I apologize that there is once again no video review but it will be back up and going next time! Cross my heart!
This week I saw the movie “Super 8” which stars no one in particular… I mean I recognized a couple of the faces but most of the main characters were kids that I haven’t seen in other movies (but they all did a great job). It was given really high ratings by critics, which I found really surprising. I don’t look at ratings before I go see a movie because I don’t want my opinion to be altered by what other people thing, but I read them when I get home. This time I was expecting really low reviews and was shocked to see how many people had positive things to say.
The plot is pretty straightforward (couple spoilers at the end of this paragraph – fyi). It starts with a bit of a backstory about the boy who will be the main character. His mother is killed in some kind of factory accident and his dad is a cop. That’s really all the information you’re given and then it skips forward 4 months. We’re then presented with a group of 5 kids who are making a zombie movie for some kind of competition. They go out to what looks like an abandoned train station (or maybe it just appeared to be abandoned) and end up witnessing and videotaping a truck crashing into a train and the train blowing up. The movie is set in 1979 so the film that the kids record can’t be viewed for 3 days… and during those 3 days really weird shit starts to happen in the town. Dogs start running away, people start to vanish, all the metal things in the town start to disappear (like car engines and TVs and stuff) and some people see this like weird alien like creature. Also, the air force is around trying to clean up the mess, not telling anyone what is happening and obviously hiding something big. The kids get the film and they end up seeing the alien on it. They go and investigate what is going on with this (it’s really cute when they do this, actually) and end up discovering that the alien is just trying to get home (daww). Sooo anyway, the kid talks to the alien telepathically and then the alien flies home in a spaceship that he materializes magically out of all the bits of scrap metal he has stolen from the town. THE END.
The kids were totally awesome. It gave it this sort of innocent feeling where you were really watching THE MOVIE instead of excessive violence, heavily coarse language and overtly sexual scenes. It was a nice break.
Also loved the idea of the alien’s original ship which dematerialized into all these little metal cubes that it was trying to collect to be able to go home. I just really like it when aliens have some sort of neat technology that humans don’t have and can’t explain, that’s always fun.
When the kids are at the train station and the train blows up it is this epic like 10 minute span of stuff just blowing up and falling over the place. The sounds of the explosions were like rumbling inside of me and it was way awesome.
There were a few scary scenes that I really liked. I’m an easy mark when it comes to scary stuff so I seemed to be a bit jumpier than those around me but there was a really nice balance of scary/suspense/action going on.
Finally, it really went back to the basics of alien movies. It didn’t try to do anything too fancy or do like some crazy twist at the end… It was just an alien movie… which is cool.
The beginning where they set up the story about the mother’s death doesn’t ever seem to become very relevant to the overall plot of the movie. All it did was add a layer of complexity to the main family, but really… they didn’t really do anything with it. They could have used it in a lot of different ways, but it sort of just hung over all the characters as a side plot that was never really intertwined in any sort of meaningful way.
Really… the whole plot was sort of lacking. Yes, it was a very basic alien movie and that’s cool… but … there was nothing original or overly interesting. There were so many things they could have done to make it more interesting overall… They could have explored the military involvement further, done a backstory on how much the government knew about the alien, shown them doing tests on the alien or how they actually got it into captivity, discussed what they were going to do with it, shown them trying to reconstruct the spaceship or trying to figure out how it worked… Like SO many things they could have done. But instead you are left with so many questions… Why was it harvesting so many people if it was planning on leaving so quickly? How the hell did it turn bikes, TVs and car engines into a sparkly new spaceship that floated off into outerspace? Why did it always make the lights flicker? Why were all the powerlines taken down in the town? So much was left unanswered, and it was sort of frustrating.
Because of this lack of plot I found that the movie was pretty slow. I caught myself more than once staring up at the ceiling wishing I had gone to X-Men or Green Lantern because I was so bored/waiting for something to happen. I mean, this could just be because I’m a product of my generation… We like things to be going on all the time and need our interest to be peaked… but the audio, visual and character development were all just lacking in excitement.
A lot of critics have compared it to older movies saying that it will become a “classic”… But what makes a classic a classic? I think that for something to become a “classic” it really needs to have something unique and tell a story that is super interesting but never been told before. It also requires better acting, directing and a better soundtrack. Anyway – I really disagree that this will become a “classic”.
Overall I’m willing to give it a 2.5 weird alien space cubes out of a possible 5 weird alien space cubes. It was entertaining enough that I didn’t leave the theater – but it wasn’t that interesting and I probably should have gone to see X-men.
Image credit: IMDB