Super 8, 2011

“It was mint!” That’s the phrase that the 13-year old kids in the movie use to describe a good frame and a good take in their movie-making endeavors.  I wish I could say the same about the movie itself, but alas, all I can say is:  It was sweet!  It really was!

A sweet sci-fi story set in an age and time when Walkmans were cool, and suburban houses in the States were compact and cozy with too much stuff everywhere.  The story has that E.T. look and even feel to it– with kids riding their high-handle bar bicycles and wearing their hair in that shaggy style that is so Beiber, but actually so Seventies.  And while the suspense and build-up is fairly decent for the first forty minutes of the movie, you then begin to wonder if you’ll have any chance of experiencing the same level of excitement and awe that the legendary E.T. had.

You don’t.  But somehow, that’s alright.  Because there’s enough realism and nostalgia in the style and setting of the story, and despite the barrage of action with the special visual and sound effects, there’s another element of the movie which must have been the influence of Spielberg, the producer.  Not director, but still, Spielberg’s thumbprints appear to be on those emotional connections that take place in the story.  Despite their predictability, they are still made quite thoughtfully and skillfully:  father and son finally see eye to eye; father and daughter see each other in a new light; neighbors once thought of as foes are finally forgiven; and a young boy honors the remembrance of his dead mother enough to let her go so as to allow himself a new beginning.

Which is really what makes the story sweet.  The rest of the action and the weird happenings in the small steel town in Ohio makes for some mysterious and some mundane minutiae– none of it too boring that it can’t be tolerated.  Some scenes are highly reminiscent from Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ but the alien monster didn’t seem to have that terrifying quality that one might expect.  And yet, the young cast of the six kids was superb, and one wouldn’t be too far from the truth to call them the ‘Super Six’.

All in all, nice entertainment for the summer, and worth every penny of the $7.50 matinee show ticket price for the first show on the first day of release!  This review, btw, was also published today in the New York Times Movies section at:  http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/06/10/movies/j-j-abramss-super-8-zooms-in-on-a… (review # 17).

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