Super 8 (2011) – 2.5/5
A hoakey, forced mess of a film with occasional touches of creativity and cleverness, mostly in the first act, and mostly in scenes not involving the stupid alien subplot that unfortunately drives most of the story after it’s introduced. Good acting, though, especially from Elle Fanning who is almost as good as her sister and has a successful career ahead of her, I predict, and Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights” fame who was born to play the role of the angry over-protective father. He’s another one to watch. Acting aside though, this is not a good movie.
There is not a genuine bone in this movie’s body. Everything feels so artificial. The beginning first 30 minutes or so are pretty good, to the point where I was actually enjoying what I was seeing, but after the ridiculously over the top CGI train crash sequence things just start going to hell. The very concept of this film is silly, and, ultimately, doesn’t work for me. Even while watching the trailer for this film I remember thinking how stupid of an idea it was; it’s just too disjointed, too needlessly complex, and, ultimately, not very interesting. It’s the type of concept that may work on paper, or maybe as a short story, or even as a novel, but as a film? No.
The group of kids bickering back and forth incessantly was also incredibly annoying. Fanning was good, the best, and really helped ground the film whenever she was on-screen. You can see why the main character would fall for her; she has this maturity and world-weary essence about her that is extremely magnetic, and is the type of actress who can speak volumes about her character with just a glance. A mark of a great actress. A shame she wasn’t the main character as that probably would have made for a much better film.
The real issue though, as I mentioned before, is the story. It’s just not interesting, and often too convoluted for its own good. Most of it doesn’t even work. Maybe if it had been handled by a better director, or written in a more unique, less artificial manner, or even edited more smoothly, they could have pulled it off. As it stands, though, some scenes were just terrible, namely any scene involving Fanning’s father, especially the one near the middle where he ***SPOILERS*** yells at her for having snuck out of the house and she ends up running off and he has to chase after her with his car. **END SPOILERS** What an awful scene: written, directed, acted, just everything. Terrible. I didn’t believe it for a moment.
And the reveal of why her father and the main character’s father, Kyle Chandler, don’t like each other was so idiotic, as was the eventual resolution to that conflict. Come on. Ugh. And what’s with all the stupid lens flares all over the place? I can understand doing it once, maybe, during some cool alien stuff, but in every freaking night scene involving lights? No one editing this movie thought it might be annoying to constantly blind the audience whenever a light was turned on? And don’t give me any of that “director’s stylistic choice” crap; the effect has no meaningful purpose and only serves to annoy the hell out of the audience. It doesn’t even look good.
Overall, not a good movie. At times quite terrible, and at others, merely okay. The beginning was pretty enjoyable at least, the acting was good, and the special effects were decent, except for the stupid lens flare effect which should be destroyed now and forever for the sake of all that is good and decent in the world. The film is a good example of how you can’t force sentiment and nostalgia by just repeating scenes from other films and hoping for the best. You need a good story, good characters, good writing, and good direction, all of which this film lacked. Don’t watch.