Monday, September 10, 2012

Super 8

Photo: Movie poster, from its Wikipedia site

See this movie on cable for the story, the emotion, the great framed shots, the special effects, and the film nostalgia. It pays homage, in ways small and large, to the following films:


--Close Encounters

--The Thing (the original, according to Roger Ebert's 3 1/2 star review; I only saw Carpenter's 1982 film version)

--The Goonies

--The Blob (bad 80s version)


--Every teenage schmaltzy 80s movie with a girl with a bad father.  Say Anything comes to mind here.  So does Forrest Gump (I know that's a 90s film), but in a much different way.

--Every schmaltzy 50s movie with a town taken over by an alien, and the army takes over, and there's a professor (called "perfessor") somewhere, acting goofy.

--The Abyss

--The Stand (Okay, that's a miniseries, but still very much there)

--Every so-bad-it's-good zombie movie, including Night of the Living Dead

--Independence Day

This movie, essentially, is a combination, mostly, of The Goonies, E.T. and Close Encounters, with an alien that's a little Aliens, a little Independence Day, and a little Close Encounters (with the boy at the end) and a little Starman, too, I suppose.  And, of course, all he wants to do is get back home, like E.T.  But he strings up townspeople for food, a la Aliens, and kills quite a few of them, and the Air Force guys (usually in movies like this, they're Army guys), a la Aliens, and The Thing, but without the paranoia and Cold War social discourse.

I could re-write this blog entry and come up with a completely different homage-summary, and still be correct with that, too.  In fact, I have to throw in a tiny bit of Jaws, for the community-meeting thing run by the sheriff, and, now that I think about it, a tiny bit of Red Dawn and The Thing, because a woman stands up at this meeting and insists that the recent power outages and power-source thefts were due to "the Soviets."

I wonder if teens today would enjoy this as much as folks my age, and older.  I think they might--but not as much.  Too bad for them.  For God's sake, finally something good comes with getting older.


  1. I’m an ‘80s kid as well and I’ve seen all the films you listed several times. I love those movies for the same reason most from our generation adored them. Having said that, I felt Super 8 tried way too hard to rekindle that magic and failed. I watched it late last December so it’s been a while, but I remember walking away from it very under whelmed. It threw in all the right ingredients. It had the late ‘70s music, the absent mother, the distant over bearing father, the young geeky kids, the typical heavy one, the young boy who is in love with the pretty blond girl, etc. But when mixed together it felt so completely forced! Maybe I’ve just grown too old to appreciate these types of stories anymore. Maybe I have an irrational nostalgic hold on those movies from the ‘80s, but I saw nothing original in Super 8. Those films from twenty five years ago were more creative and clever and didn’t try to manipulate emotion as much as this one did. If I wanted to see those types of films then I’d watch them and not a modern rehash disguised as something original. I think teens did like it, but some of the older crowd walked away feeling depressed as if they saw a bad imitation of something they once treasured. I know this to be true because I frequent the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) message board where people have in depth conversations about their fave movies. Many older posters agreed with me on Super 8. But many loved it as well.

    1. Thanks for the well-written comment! I didn't love the movie, either, for many of the reasons you mentioned, plus the fact that even the action scenes, like the train wreck, was overdone. But what I liked most about it was that it brought back to me the memories of all of those other films. This one didn't try to be one of those films; I think it was happy just bringing them up. And I was happy just thinking about them. No expectations. Super 8, after all, is no E.T. It's not even The Goonies. But it's not trying to be; it's just holding up a mirror to them. It's J.J. Abrams, the movie's director, showing us what we liked about 80s films--but also Spielberg films, too. Especially Spielberg films. As a Spielberg protege himself, Abrams was showing us what he liked about Spielberg films, too.