Author: Constant, Paul
Date published: June 22, 2011
Let's ignore the obvious problem of Steven Spielberg producing a movie that is so obviously a love letter to Steven Spielberg. That would necessitate a whole other conversation- probably an intervention of some sort. And that's not really the problem with Super 8. The real problem with Super 8 is that you've seen it before, a dozen times. In the process of making a zombie movie, a group of teenagers witness a train wreck that kicks off a series of odd occurrences that disrupt life in their bucolic Ohio town. It's set in a hyper-nostalgic 1979, and the summery cinematography is probably the best part of the movie-the enormous blue skies that fade reluctantly off to dusk, along with the overwhelming spectacle of a train crash that kicks everything off, make this film a joy to watch in a real theater, and the majesty of those few shots probably won't survive the shift to DVD. But Super 8 feels like a bar band's electric cover of a blues classic. Technically, all the parts are moving in the right direction, and all the players know what they're doing, but the central emotion, the thing that caused the song to be written in the first place, is numbed, making the whole experience irrelevant. Director J.J. Abrams gets some excellent performances out of his child actors, especially Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney, but the story is a lame attempt to touch every Spielberg base-quiet family problems are reflected on a large summer-movie canvas; the innocence of children bests the cynicism of adulthood-without the story mechanics to back those performances up.