Friday, November 25, 2011
Move Night: Super 8
Maybe it's J.J. Abrams as director, or maybe Steven Spielberg as producer. Maybe it's just brilliantly written, casted, and acted. But this is one of the the best movies I've seen in a very long time. Super 8 is "Stand by Me" meets "The Goonies" meets "The Sandlot". With aliens. I give it a A+. It's your standard coming of age, early teen, "nerdy boy gets hot girl" movie, but with a heart and soul, and characters that move you. Set in 79 it falls story wise after "Stand" before "Goonies" and right around "Sandlot."
The acting in this movie was really great, or once again, maybe just really well directed. There was one scene that will forever stand out for me. It's where Alice is asking Joe how to "play" a Zombie. Then she's looking at him just normal like, and the "zombie" comes over her. She "attacks" him, abet in slow motion, ending with a bite on the neck. Then she draws back and goes back to normal Alice. This almost made the hair stand up on the back of my head, the way her expression slowly changes, and her eyes....it's amazing acting. I think the whole scene was to show off just how good Elle Fanning really is. Since this is a movie, in part, about making a movie, there's another scene they really let her go to town on. It's her first scene in the boys movie, and she's to play the wife. They do a "run through" of the scene, and she just really nails it. You really feel like she's feeling it. Keep an eye out for this girl, she's going places. She's been in quite a bit of films already, but I think she's just coming into her own now.
Not to say the other actors, kids as they might be, are slouches. Most of these guys did a really good job, you can really get into some of them, Joe, Alice, and Charles really shine. Most of the rest of the cast, with the exception of Joe's dad Jac, take a back seat. I think all of them are solid performers in the film, the supporting cast really didn't get enough meat on the characters to really judge their talent. But there was no "bad" acting in my opinion, but with sketchy characters is can be hard to tell what's by design and what's by accident. I did feel the "sexy sister" was hammed up a bit, but that may have been design, and no fault of the actress. The video store clerk, mainly a plot device to get the kids from one scene to another, was also a bit awkward. I think it was the writing, not the acting. He was more a plot device, like the "sexy sister", then a character, they just needed to give him enough flesh to explain him, but they didn't really flesh him out enough I felt, but it worked. Movies are time limited.
It's got a sweet "like" story going on behind the scenes (too young and innocent to be a "love" story), but it addresses deep issues in it's plot. It shakes a finger at human kind and it's fear of the unknown, it shakes a finger at blame, and guilt. As Sci-Fi as the film is, that's almost just a backdrop for this character driven story. It never goes into the Sci-Fi parts, just touches on them in passing. There is no science here at all, nothing is explained. It's not science fiction, but human fiction. It can be a bit campy at times, but unlike in many movies, it all fits with the feel of the movie. If this movie is lacking anything it's the character development could go even deeper and spread wider exploring more of the cast. But J.J. Abrams is always good at pacing, and this moves seems to have that great balance of pace, dialog, and action that makes a good story a great movie. This story would make a great book, then the characters could really be explored.
You see the love("like") story coming a mile off. The plot twist that explains an early scene, and the "Romeo and Juliet" type unexplained hatred between the two fathers, is foreshadowed and no surprise if your paying attention. I think it would have been better served WITHOUT the foreshadowing, I think it would have hit harder, but no one asked me. Anymore, most of us have seen so many movies, and read so many books, there's isn't much new in stories anyway. But just because you see it coming doesn't lessen the impact, or take away from the moment it is revealed. It's even kinda sweet and touching once it unfolds, even though for pacing it's quickly glossed over.. I must admit the scene with the two fathers facing their issues is really good, not because of how big and grand it is, but because of how much it's not. How small and down-to-earth it is.
I must say, one of the things I think I like most about this movie, is how "real" it is. There are a few scenes that seem kinda out there, but mostly is seem like what would happen to normal people, in a normal town, on a normal day. Well, if a very angry, bad ass, alien is set free on that normal day. And it doesn't seem that far fetched to me at all, none of it. It's much like "Stand by Me" and "The Sandlot" that way. And the outlandish parts are not that far off what we see in "The Goonies". It is a touch scarier then the other movies in a few parts, and has a scene or two of gore on the bus. It also has a bit of cussing by the kids, not constant, and mostly justified, but it's there.
If you liked those other films, you'll like Super 8, if you didn't, well then you might not like this one either. I will say "The Sandlot" and "The Goonies" are in my top 20 FAVORITE movies of all time, if not in the top 10. "Stand by Me" wouldn't make my top 20, personally. But if I was to list the GREATEST movies, not just my favorites, it would rank in the top 20. I think I'm a romantic at heart, without the underlying "love" story I just doesn't make the list. And in this one they don't even kiss, or show their growing regard in any physical way, till the very last moment of the movie, then it's very, very tame. This had made the list however, my personal top 10 FAVORITES. It would be in the running on the GREATEST list as well.
And all with a no-name cast.... of course most good "kid" movies are....