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Fatboy Roberts Finds Lots Of Effort, But Little Magic In J.J. Abrams's SUPER 8!


Beaks here...
My review of SUPER 8 will join the AICN chorus on Friday, when we can freely discuss spoilers. Without tipping my hand too much, I'm fascinated by what Abrams has attempted here, but I'm not interested in discussing it as a mystery box.
As far as spoiler-free reviews go, however, you're not going to find one more lucid than what Fatboy Roberts offers up below. I don't agree with everything he says below (lay off 1941 and TEMPLE OF DOOM, sir!), but he makes some very cogent points about Abrams's storytelling. Always a pleasure to post a new review from our pal up in Portland...


It is well known at this point that JJ Abrams makes movies to be mystery boxes. He finds them to be the perfect containers of magic things, and movies are the most potent kind of magic he knows.

JJ Abrams once told the story of his personal mystery box at a TED conference: It was a magic kit, a cardboard package with a bright yellow sticker on it, decorated in question marks and rabbits, purchased from a novelty store. He’s owned it for over 30 years, and he’s never opened it. He doesn’t want to ruin the magic inside.

It is an image that evokes nostalgia all by itself; a beam of sunlight shot through a windowpane, dust dancing through the golden light, shining on that stickered cardboard, reflecting off the lenses of his glasses, magnifying the excitement in JJ’s eyes. The boy gets older, the frames change shape, the hair recedes, but the eyes stay excited, the light stays golden, and the box stays unopened. The magic is preserved.

Of the films in Abrams’ filmography, "Super 8" is the one that most closely resembles that box. The box is built out of a thick latticework of nostalgic imagery from the late 70’s/early 80’s. It’s sides are made with the kitbashed remains of genre classics from that era. But while the film nakedly strains to mix together the best parts of "E.T." and "The Goonies," the resultant film ends up feeling more like an undercooked blend of "The Monster Squad" and "1941." JJ is openly chasing the ghost of young Spielberg, but the specter he's captured is the one who thought Willie Scott was a good idea, who wasted John Belushi in a WWII comedy.

The premise is as beautiful as "Super 8's" cinematography, an idea so bright it causes at least 25% of the movie's lens flares by itself: A group of film-crazy middle-school nerds (and the sad-but-pretty girl they’ve roped into this) are making a zombie movie for an 8mm film contest. While shooting at a train station one night, a cataclysmic wreck occurs, unleashing a destructive government secret into a small Ohio town.

The charm in that premise evaporates within 20 minutes of the lid being lifted on "Super 8’s" mystery box, and bad soap opera and hollow characterization starts oxidizing the remaining magic shortly thereafter. None of the child actors are bad, necessarily, but there’s nothing to any of them but shrill crosstalk and constant requests for everyone else but them to shut up; requests that are repeated so often they not only constitute about 40% of the children’s dialog, but they become a mantra to lob back at the screen.

The two child leads, Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb and Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard, sometimes rise above this prepubescent cacophony and provide the film with warm, honest portrayals of children fumbling through their respective broken homes. Their single parents, Deputy Sherriff Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) and town drunk Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard) take turns using their children as weapons with which to hurt the other in the wake of a shared tragedy.

In the meantime, a secret Air Force group has essentially quarantined the town while hunting for their cargo, causing almost as much turmoil as whatever got free of that train, leading to mass disappearances and inexplicable technological anomalies.

These stories do not intertwine and strengthen each other like good cinematic magic tricks do. "Super 8" holds together with all the strengh of still-wet model glue. It is a collection of pretty explosions smashing through the side of the frame, followed by annoying characters saying unfunny things with terrible timing. It has all the tone of a smashed piano. It is a strenuous bout of nostalgic over-exercise that can’t hold onto a sense of awe for longer than 2 seconds at a time thanks to the sheets of sweat slicking up JJ’s previously sure grip.

In fact, the most surprising thing about "Super 8" isn’t the reveal of what escaped the train, and why it does the things it does. The biggest surprise is that there is no sense of fun here at all. Moments that should be rousing, like Deputy Lamb’s escape from an Air Force trap, just sort of loudly happen, with no real impact. And most damaging to what Abrams is trying to do, none of the moments that go for the heartstrings (Joe’s standing up to his father, His father’s reconciliation with Louis) manage to strike a true note.

I didn’t think that Super 8 would end up containing less honest emotion than the first 5 minutes of "Star Trek," or less real tension than anything in "Mission Impossible III," but that’s what happened here. This film proves JJ was right to never open his mystery box, because it turns out there’s just a bunch of gaudy, loud junk rattling around in there. Super 8 is a pretty, ornate container built to hold only the suggestion of actual content.

Fatboy Roberts

@fatboyroberts on twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • June 9, 2011, 12:19 a.m. CST


    by john


  • June 9, 2011, 12:23 a.m. CST

    Interesting to see the reviews this week

    by HansBubi

    As we get closer to the movie's release date, more reviews are getting posted on the internet that say the movie is slick with respectable acting, but the movie doesn't have much genuine emotion and soul. I have a feeling it will be a movie I will like but not love based on what I've read. Many of us will respect its intentions, yet I am getting the impression that reactions will still be mixed.

  • June 9, 2011, 12:27 a.m. CST


    by konar

    since I haven't seen the film yet I don't know whether I agree with your review or not, but it is so articulate it gives me the feeling that you are probably pretty accurate. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis.

  • June 9, 2011, 12:48 a.m. CST

    The reviewer's completely wrong

    by Koyaanisqatsi

    The different storylines never converge like they should or really have any kind of connection outside of the creature which itself is handled inconsistently. That's about where the negative ends though. This guy is dead wrong about the kids. They're all good to great and the kids' story throughout the film just plain works. So yeah he's not wrong but the effect on the movie as a whole is not nearly as bad as some folks are saying. While in the end it's not really much to write home about compared to its influences it's still better than the average crap people see these days.

  • June 9, 2011, 12:49 a.m. CST

    The reviewer's *not completely wrong

    by Koyaanisqatsi

  • June 9, 2011, 12:49 a.m. CST

    Just another Abrams hater

    by Extr3m1st

    Less honest emotion then the first 5 minutes of Star Trek...less tension then anything in MI:3. Any other pieces of Abrams work you want to torch?

  • June 9, 2011, 12:54 a.m. CST

    well played fatboy, well played

    by mojination

    It's nice to have some balance to all the dewy eyed wonder at Abrams shiny new toy. I did love the flick however, and don't agree with you on the opinions on dialogue and "wow" moments. The dialogue with the kids kinda set a tone more than anything. it's not about the detail of what they said, it was the constant rearranging of the shape of their group personality and the momentum they created by their optimisim and energy. i really dug the wow moments (apart from the last 20min which felt like he finally lost control and blew a giant nostalgic load all over the screen). the bus scene was awesome. and the train crash was epic.

  • June 9, 2011, 1:02 a.m. CST

    God help us

    by Koyaanisqatsi

    If J.J. ever writes and/or finds some solid scripts to shoot. We'd never leave the theater.

  • June 9, 2011, 1:24 a.m. CST

    I agree with Fatboy, mostly

    by loki965

    To me, it just seemed to be trying too hard most of the time. Things that should have been happening naturally seemed really forced and fake. Especially the symbolism at the end. God, I choked back a laugh on that one. I don't think the problems with the film rest with the acting. I think all the actors worked their asses off, especially the kids. But JJ was just trying too damn hard.

  • June 9, 2011, 1:38 a.m. CST


    by CT1

    When I see commercials for this on TV they flash a lot of mediocre reviewers taglines, but no AICN reviewers? NOT cool. "It doesn’t, buy human experience, seem like it would be intelligent and that’s the source of it’s angst. I love the creature’s back-story." - Harry Knowles, AIN'T-IT-COOL.COM

  • June 9, 2011, 1:39 a.m. CST


    by CT1

    a very special person

  • June 9, 2011, 1:54 a.m. CST

    Abrams = the new M. Knight

    by Crooooooow

  • June 9, 2011, 2:28 a.m. CST

    Like Temple of Doom or not - Willie Scott sucked.

    by JuanSanchez

  • June 9, 2011, 2:43 a.m. CST

    Finally, people are starting to wake up to JJ' BS.

    by Fortunesfool

  • June 9, 2011, 3 a.m. CST

    good to see a less then flattering review

    by Titus05

    to even things out...too many people are going crazy over this and the whole Speilberg-esqe look of the film...I think the movie will be good but not anything groundbreaking...I'd like to see JJ explore a different genre and see what he can come up with

  • June 9, 2011, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Is LOST really enough...

    by WhatTheHellHappenedToMe

    To create a mythology around this man? Alias, Felicity, Armageddon, Joy Ride, Undercovers, Cloverfield, Mission Impossible III... Outside of Lost and Star Trek, what has Abrams *ever* given us other than bullshit in a shiny package? His career doesn't rise above the level of a Brett Ratner or a Michael Bay, but we treat him like he's Bryan Singer or Steven Spielberg.

  • Did someone really say up there that because this reviewer was "articulate" that they were "probably right"? SERIOUSLY? I really get the impression from a lot of commenters on AICN that they haven't really done a lot of reading. The only thing "articulate" about this review was the fact that it's full of hyperbolic attacks on Abrams. And - aside from Rex Reed - it's literally the ONLY bad review of the film that I've read. It has an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes right now, and I've read every one of them. People need to STOP EXPECTING THIS MOVIE TO BE THE EQUAL of an early Spielberg film, and just SEE IT and have fun. I saw it at a midnight screening, and it was FANTASTIC - WONDERFUL - the BEST Summer movie we've had in YEARS. It seems like EVERYONE here is basing their PRE-opinions on this movie because of their feelings about Abrams. Seriously - the guy gave us "Alias", "Lost", "Fringe", and made a GREAT "Star Trek" reboot. Of COURSE he's not Spielberg - who COULD be? Filmmakers like him come along once in a generation. Abrams is never going to be Paul Thomas Anderson for God's sake - he makes popcorn movies. That's what he does - and he's a HELL of a lot better at it than 99% of the hacks making popcorn movies now. This is a GREAT summer movie - nothing's perfect, which is apparently what some people want here - just SEE IT. You're going to have a GREAT time. For fuck's sake, stop being so fucking cynical about everything and GO ENJOY THE MOVIE.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:07 a.m. CST

    I fucking hate LOST as much as anyone can hate LOST!

    by wuher da brewer

    But Super 8 is good! It does well to earn the Amblin Entertainment logo and feels like it captures the Spielberg sense of awe and wonder. I hated the way Damon Lindelof was wrong and there was no science-based conclusion to the events of LOST. Had there been, maybe I wouldn't have hated it. Fatboy is wrong about Super 8. Jaded fanboy is more like it... I think it's funny I saw the new Southpark tonight... He sounds like Stan here.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:09 a.m. CST

    He sounds like tonight's South Park

    by wuher da brewer

    Just spewing shit!

  • June 9, 2011, 4:19 a.m. CST

    A turnip truck pulls up to the AMC and...

    by justmyluck

    ... the Beverly Hillbillies have arrived to see SUPER-8. "By gum, dis is dat movie like a Spielberg movie and with some of 'em special secrets." A year's worth of media and Internet hype, using Spielberg's name as an audience draw, gives us SUPER-8 - a replica of an aspiration.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:22 a.m. CST

    LMAO. Star Trek was great fun and his Mission Impossible...

    by u.k. star

    ...was the only one that comes within a 1,000 miles of the TV show the movies were allegedly based on si this review helps me by showing that Super 8 is likely a film I'll enjoy. Not liking Abrams' style is fine but coming up with foolish statements like no genuine emotion in the start of Star Trek and no tension in MI:3 (it's scant compliment, but MI:3 is easily the best of those films and the only one can an even stomach watching more than once) is just nonsense.

  • I think you misinterpreted that, bud.

  • June 9, 2011, 5:44 a.m. CST

    shermdawg You could be right there...

    by u.k. star

    Weird thing is I couldn't read it any other way the first time, but now that you've said that I can't see how. Never post comments on less than 2 hours sleep!

  • June 9, 2011, 5:51 a.m. CST

    Cheers, Fatboy

    by sleepyhead

    Thanks for a sober review.

  • June 9, 2011, 5:55 a.m. CST

    Fat, drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life, son

    by Crash11578

    Wow, since I completely disagree with your lack of tension in MI3 and lack of emotion in ST comments, I guess I'll have to ignore all your nitpicking on S8 and assume we have totallly different tastes.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:21 a.m. CST

    The reviewer clearly states that there IS emotion

    by theGoldbergV

    in the first 5 mins of Star Trek and there IS tension throughout MI:3. All he says is that Super 8 fails to match either of them. Damn people. Learn to read.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:25 a.m. CST

    The Optimist's Mystery Box

    by MoffatBabies

    It will always, without exception, be revealed to contain upon the death of it's owner, a slip of paper (not even special paper... torn from the bottom of a cheap page of college ruled yellow paper) that says simply... Sucker. . . However, I am always and will always be right there with the rest of you, eager to see what's inside... forever wanting to know and never having anything but our guesses.. and creative imaginings. The optimist may not base his life on reality, usually. But by gosh, his life will be 10 times more interesting than the rest of you cynical asses'. See you at the cinema tomorrow night for the sneak preview.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:25 a.m. CST


    by MoffatBabies

    I mean tonight. No sleep yet.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:56 a.m. CST

    Douche bags.....There is one in every crowd.

    by claxdog

  • June 9, 2011, 6:57 a.m. CST

    Retards can't read...

    by T

    I guess some of you mofo's are too much in a hurry to post your own jis that comprehension is just beyond you. Yes, it was a backwards compliment to StarTrek, but it was genuine. I'm not sure Super 8 is worthy or not; this is the first that I've really read about it at all so far, but even this isn't that bad of a review.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:58 a.m. CST

    Oh, in JJ's Mystery Box-

    by T

    is a dead rabbit, poor thing.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:31 a.m. CST

    Abrams = the new M. Knight?????

    by Fabian Santos

    poor comparison, feel sorry for you man...

  • June 9, 2011, 7:40 a.m. CST

    "who wasted John Belushi in a WWII comedy"


    Thanks, now I know I can ignore your entire review. You had me worried there for a second. 1941 is a great movie, and Belushi is brilliant in it.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:46 a.m. CST

    and on this nostalgia thing...

    by MoffatBabies

    I know a LOT of people that surround themselves with nostalgia. Much of it because of a pair of much rosier glasses than the ones they were wearing back when the latest Mister Mister or Phil Collins song came out. I can be a victim of it all myself. I enjoyed the hell out of Tron Legacy. Sure, it was kind of a mess, but not in the way the original was. That's not to say the original is not good... it is... more for the way it takes such fantastic gambles with the trajectory of progress than anything. But honestly... what got me to stand in lime that morning was NOT the nostalgia as much as it was enthusiasm over their use of 3D. An enthusiasm I get a LOT of shit for. But I digress. They say that religion is the opiate of the masses. Perhaps. Some say television is the opiate of the masses. Maybe. The Internet? Surely, now, especially the short attention span aspects and mobile Internet. But one things remains true across all these things....and ever-present... Nostalgia. The ultimate opiate of the masses. The HEROIN of the masses. And it personally drives me absolutely nuts. Almost everyone I know now that I grew up with, even my closest friend, rejects much of what's NEW... even when it is undeniably original and striking, or purely beautiful. Some of them appear to have shut off the part of their brains that gives new things a chance at about the last year of High School. Having just watched that latest South Park, it hit me pretty hard. I'm not that guy... the guy that tries to "stay cool".. either getting it wrong (I saw a 40 year old guy recently that looked like he was trying to dress like a CURRENT teenager.. and I seriously considered calling a cop over since it was at a swap meet with a bunch of kids around), or just liking all the worst new stuff out there (most of what is called "dubstep" but is actually just warmed over, minimalist electronica and anything resembling Gaga).. I just cannot stand re-living those times over and over in my head. Why not live NOW... or at least open your mind once in a while. There's a universe of good, NEW stuff. Not all CG sucks, definitely not all 3D sucks, not all new music sucks (that is more true than anything I've said here) and not everything you loved when you were a kid is good AT ALL. Hell, most of it was garbage. And in 10 years, some of the stuff I like now I won't be able to listen to, watch or read now. Just like I look back at some of the stuff I loved 10 years ago... some of it I can't deal with now. But the SPIRIT of those things can live, grow. It can be built upon in GOOD ways. Think of the difference between say, a RE-MAKE and something like JJ's Trek. It embraces the true spirit of the original but doesn't look back at it with the same rose-colored glasses as some of the rest of us. And let's face it, forehead ridges, 3-inch wide stars out starship windows, a supposedly advanced ship CONSTANTLY RUMBLING, jumpsuits and sliding doors in a universe that has made it perfectly clear that "force fields" exist... yet cannot be opaque? These are things born from budgetary problems of the PAST. There's nothing great about them. The only thing you like about those things is the fact that they remind you of what you probably see as a better time in your life. And it's much easier to look at the world around you and place the blame for where you are... whether it's OLDER... poorer, uglier, unhappy, depressed.. whatever the problems are (and we all have some for of all of them in our lifetimes)... externally. "These are shitty times, with shitty movies, shitty TV, shitty music. Things just are not what they used to be." BULLSHIT! But the truth is, we are in a new renaissance when it comes to TV, to be sure. Some of the best material being written and performed/produced right now is ON TV for the first time in history. Movies, even small ones ( I just watched a film called "Mr Nobody", which I understood was a "small film" but looked enormous and expensive) are looking amazing right now. HUGE budget films may be having trouble figuring out that story is more important than spectacle, and fewer BIG risks are being taken with BIG money lately, but the cost of making a film look amazing is dropping SO fast right now. You will see the result of that on screen... soon. Mark my words. Music is having its own renaissance right now BECAUSE of the devastation the Napster generation wreaked upon it. More new music is coming out now than ever before... when they said the opposite would be the case even 3 years ago. Hell, some people not paying very close attention are STILL saying it. The only difference is that being a "rock star" is not as realistic as it was 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. Thousands upon thousands of musicians are making a LIVING making music now, instead of constantly striving to fill stadiums. Most of them know that's out of reach , even for the most talented and creative ones. The thing is... most of you have not made an effort to SEEK this new music out.. and your traditional means of finding it... RADIO... does next to nothing to promote anything new beyond a small handfull of mostly crap , corporate "indie rock" that's about as INDIE as Richard Branson is poor. Video games are ITCHING to find their equivalent of Citizen Kane. And they will find it. Once the industry makes the real leap into 3D and puts our heads truly back INTO the game, in a head-tracked, 3 dimensional SPACE, the sky will be the limit and the holodeck (or something close to it) will be 15 years away. This... HERE.... NOW!! Is a great time to be alive. And the more we focus on reminding ourselves of the SPIRIT of what came before (like JJ sometimes gets right) instead of aping it (a fine line JJ seems to have slightly crossed.. but I hold judgement), we'll all be just fine. Everything does NOT suck, talkback folks. Just visit a DOCback (doctor who talkback) sometime for an example of a community that disagrees often, but CLEARLY likes each other and LOVES Who. They have what ANY living, breathing human being need to have in order to keep their minds healthy, fresh and plastic... ENTHUSIASM! Sure, I can be cynical. But more than that, I have enthusiasm. I try not to let the cynical part of me win... actively. And I think it's kept me healthy and happy, for the most part. And I try to keep away from most nostalgia for that very reason. I think it breeds cynicism and kills enthusiasm. That's my 2.9 cents on the matter. If you read it, thanks. If you didn't...such is life.

  • June 9, 2011, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Chunky butt

    by Karl Hungus


  • June 9, 2011, 8:07 a.m. CST


    by art123guy

    Someone gives a competent, well thought out review that appears to go against the general consensus and everyone rips him a new one. Apparently if you don't blow a load or crap on a movie, your review is meaningless. What are the odds everyone ripping this review will hate Super 8 3 months from now?

  • June 9, 2011, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Now THATS a review. thanks Fatboy Roberts

    by TheManWhoCan

    We need more honest intelgent reviews on this site.<p> I never believed that crock of shit story JJ made up about his unopened magic box that never existed. BTW <p> someone link a picture of the gawddamn monster from this movie so i wont waste money seeing this in the cinema.<p> This movie is playing on the emotions of gen Xers wayyy too much for my taste.

  • June 9, 2011, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Funny that Abrams get's so much association with Lost.

    by knowthyself

    Outside of fine tuning the premise and being involved in the beginning the man had nothing to do with the 5 seasons of the show. The shows real creators did. Why he get's so much credit for Lost I'll never know.

  • Judge the movie for your fucking selves. I know I am.

  • June 9, 2011, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Just a few more hours...

    by MoffatBabies

    I really have not been this excited to see a film since.... jeeze... Eyes Wide Shut maybe?

  • Someone please inform him Nordling did it already.

  • June 9, 2011, 9:27 a.m. CST

    Yes! Im not alone!!!

    by dacanesta

    Ive said enough on the last 2 Super 8 threads. Ive read AICN for ages and not contributed ever (almost ever) and now i cant shut up. That says something about how angry this poor film made me! But anyway.......

  • June 9, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST

    The real truth is...

    by knowthyself

    Does anyone WANT to take credit for Lost after that finale? lol.

  • June 9, 2011, 9:40 a.m. CST


    by CreepyThinMan

    No weight, no substance, just a lot of flash (or lens flair, if you will...) that papers over the cracks of the last three movies he's made, all of which have been either a sequel to a long running series based on a TV show with a 40 year plus history (Mission:Impossible/ Star Trek) or outright plagiarizing the aesthetics of another filmmaker (Spielberg with Super 8) because he has no voice of his own nor does he have anything new to show us. This is why M:I and Trek both had stupid shit at the core of their concepts (The Rabbit's Foot, Red Matter) that serve as nothing more than a McGuffin for domestic bullshit (M:I) or Mommy and Daddy issues (Trek). Or he presents some sort of big "mystery" that has no pay off or a shitty one (Cloverfield, Lost). He's nothing more than an overrated hack who took a page out of the Chris (X-files_ Carter playbook and constructed an empty box filled with nothing but other empty boxes. The problem is that when you get to the last box, you are hugely disappointed for being suckered into thinking that there was something there to begin with. That's JJ Abrams in a nutshell.

  • Face is fucktards - JJ is a failed experiment. A little snot who grew up rich and now thanks to his Uncle Sol, who knew someone on the inside, gets to push his little stories onto all of us. But don't worry, JJ can make 10 more bad films like this and he'll still get work - they look out for one another. Why the fuck would anyone want to see a private love letter to Speilberg anyway? And as for all you cuntchips who defend this little man - you can't possibly be fans of good movies - if you were you'd be able to tell the difference between what JJ does and what good filmmakers do. I bet before JJ came along you just loooooved Kevin Smith.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:03 a.m. CST

    Who the hell is Fatboy anyway?

    by seasider

  • Little spud

  • June 9, 2011, 10:06 a.m. CST

    M Knight plays the mystery box bs also

    by Knobules

    And his movies are dismal. Still Ill check this out with little expectation. You all will to admit it.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST

    I think Fatboy Robert's inner child is dead...

    by ED2D2

    When I saw this movie last night, I felt like I was 10 years old again being swept up into a kid's adventure film. All the moments Fatboy refers to as falling flat were the ones that hit home for me. This movie captured what it was like for me as a kid but still had that JJ Abrams style that surprises you and keeps you on your toes. The crew who saw it in Austin really dug it and jumped and laughed at all the parts Fatboy didn't like. Maybe it was the audience or maybe Fatboy just doesn't enjoy JJ Abrams's storytelling style.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST

    by JRcanReid

    JJ Abrams = Chris Carter with a budget.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:14 a.m. CST

    JJ Abrams = Chris Carter with a budget

    by JRcanReid

    no subject

  • June 9, 2011, 10:20 a.m. CST

    When I see a review where the person...

    by Lobanhaki2

    ...talks about the movie as if they were a prosecutor making a closing statement in a movie trial, I get the notion that the guy or girl didn't exactly go into the movie with an open mind.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:23 a.m. CST

    The one thing that confuses me about these reviews...

    by Silverhour

    Ok, so what age range is this appropriate for, really? In all these articles the reviewers talk about taking their kids, or nostalgia for their childhood, but what age range are we talking about? Everyone invokes E.T. when talking about it, so I think 'Great, I can take my 6 year old to it.' but then someone mentions Jaws or Alien or Close Encounters and I think 'Well, maybe things will be a bit heavy for him, and he just won't get it.'

  • June 9, 2011, 10:31 a.m. CST


    by ED2D2

    I'd say middle school age is about right for kids. There's some genuine scary surprise grab your armrest moments (think JAWS popping out of the water the first time). I wouldn't say it's a kids movie. But it's the movie you would have seen as a kid without your parents permission.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Hoping this will be the "Summer Flop"!! (There's always one lol)

    by marineboy

  • June 9, 2011, 11:08 a.m. CST

    Oh Jesus..

    by Tank Williams

    Now were going thru that whole, "mixed reviewed' stage on Super 8. I hate that. Either it soars with flying colors, or its a piece of shit. I hate this in the middle crap....Now I have no clue as to how Super 8 will turn out...

  • June 9, 2011, 11:13 a.m. CST


    by ccchhhrrriiisssm

    They are there to warn about spoilers.

  • June 9, 2011, 11:36 a.m. CST

    JJ Abram has never made anything ...

    by Tom Fremgen

    that I really enjoyed. I had hopes for this one since Spielberg was involved, and being a child of the 80's, and the trailer looked good. But from Alias to Lost to Star Trek to MI3 to Fringe, his work has been interesting at best and simply ridiculous at worst. Sorry to hear Super 8 is more of the same.

  • June 9, 2011, 11:37 a.m. CST

    I really enjoyed this review.

    by Jeffrey

  • June 9, 2011, 12:03 p.m. CST

    JJ Abrams MI 3 was.. GOOD?

    by mcgillj

    errr.. someone who ACCUSED Roberts of TORCHING MI 3.. well.. doesn't it DESERVE to be? And yeah.. the opening scenes of JJ's Trek.. can be quite wreching.. the poster only said this film closes NOTHING close to either of those.. which is really a BAD THING.. This should be a much more personal.. and hit close to home kind of story.. if he's wanting to appropriate the 80s genre.. and all the influences say something along.. Goonies meets Cloverfield. but.. Trek? I ENJOYED the heck out of it.. but.. it was nothing SPECTACULAR.. in fact? It took the TNG formula.. almost bit of bit.. AMPED up the action.. and obviously had a budget of about 3-4 TIMES as much.. granted.. sadly.. the TNG crew never REALLY fit the mold of the formula they chased after.. and it always felt awkward.. to me.. to see Stewart shirtless with a plasma rifle trying to John McClane it up.. when they SHOULD have been going more along the Wreth of Kahn style villany.. never saw Shatner trying to run and shoot people.. (although he did mix it up with Rev. Jim in III). and.. MI3 was the best adaptation of the source material? well.. that source material is 40 years OUT OF DATE! even the first of the Trek films didn't hew TOO closely to the original series.. trying to take it in a more SERIOUS direction.. much like Depalma did with the first.. taking spy action.. into more of an action mystery intrigue spy thriller.. MI 2 was the worst of the lot.. 3? had the REDEEMING feature of a killer villain casting (who felt ultimtely wasted) and yet again fell back on the.. oh wait while I remove my face reveals.. there were some incredibly well shot SEQUENCES.. but then again so did MI2 as SILLY as hell as the bike stunt was? hell of a beautifully shot film. I'd suggest you wait.. I have a sneaking suspcion that Roberts is right on the money with his assessment.. some people will agree, or disagree (obviously). But.. it sounds much like most films.. a cynical cash grab by recycling something that worked 25 years ago.. it could be great... then again, it might not be. and JUST because JJ is behind it.. is no guarantee... I have the same sinking feeling the more I see on Cars 2.. while it may be FUN.. it seems to be by far the MOST shallow Pixar film to come down the pike..

  • June 9, 2011, 12:26 p.m. CST


    by Bag_of_Hammers

    Garth over at DH sums it up best I think: The film has much going for it but ultimately fails because of it's inability to earn the emotional tone it's jamming down your throat. It's like having JJ Abrhams sitting behind you the entire film, hitting you with a wifflebat and screaming "NOSTALGIA NOSTALGIA NOSTALGIA!" at every "awwww" scene. Also the monster is ridiculous and totally takes you out of the film. And Jesus, enough with the lensflare!!!

  • June 9, 2011, 1:19 p.m. CST



    jesus christ this site is so slow to post real entertainment news.

  • June 9, 2011, 1:23 p.m. CST

    Ebert's take? He didn't care for MI:3 or Star Trek,

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    but gives Super 8 3 1/2 stars. Hmmmmm.

  • June 9, 2011, 1:35 p.m. CST

    reader review

    by eternia_dwell another take

  • June 9, 2011, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Fatboy is a cunt

    by Turd_Has_Risen_From_The_Gravy

    Always was, even back in the days when he used to frequent Star Wars websites and try to lecture everyone else. He has nothing to do with this site whatsoever, so why does AICN keep giving him airtime? Oh,'s Beaks who keeps posting this vomit's 'reviews' time and time again here, the same way that Beaks' always tries to 'subtly' give free publicity and links to his douchebag buddies, like Devin Faraci. I remember the last time Beaks posted a Fatboy review even mild-mannered Harry was displeased, questioniong who this guy actually was and why his reviews were being posted. Still, it is nice to see someone who hasn't been bought out by the JJ hype train, even it is from an ignorant, hateful cunt.

  • June 9, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST

    LOL please

    by ryan

    Star Trek was a fine movie. I could never sit down and watch the original, or any of the television series for that matter. and nothing against any one who can, it just never intrigued me. my father on the other hand ate the shit out of it all. Now when i fall in love with a Star Trek movie, and he falls in love with a Star Trek movie, then i know very well something good has been achieved. Chris Pines fucking money anyway. and MI:3.....way beyond the others in the series. This guy J.J., he knows how to take material and make it appealing. fuck the haters

  • June 9, 2011, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Here's the deal with JJ..

    by Carl's hat

    When I look back at what he's done so's a mixed bag. Forever Young- yeah, remember that one with Mel Gibson as the guy cryogenically frozen? Liked it, didn't love it. Armageddon- shit movie. Felicity- not my bag, my sister liked it though. Alias-also never watched it but I have a feeling I could've gotten into it. Mission Impossible III- yeah, I dug it. Best by far of the 3. Lost- Loved it, all the way... until the finale, which has effectively ruined my appetite for ever watching the show again. Cloverfield- Good fun, but that hand held camera stuff makes me feel nauseous and tends to ruin movies for me. Undercovers- watched the first couple of eps with my wife. It didn't grab either of us. Fringe- Again haven't seen much of it. Couldn't get past the inital casting of the chubby guy from 90210 in it, so (probably unfairly) never gave it a chance. Will probably get them all on dvd one day and love it. Star Trek- This is the one that really tips me into the anti-Abrams crowd. Longtime Trekkie- this movie although it had some good elements, was not Star Trek and still leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Alcatraz- This one sounds interesting and as someone who has always been interested in the famous Escape from Alcatraz- I'm hopeful for this one. Overall, I guess the guy has done stuff I like. The abomination that was Star Trek was almost a bridge too far for me but i remain open to his future projects. (except trek 2)

  • June 9, 2011, 2:35 p.m. CST

    whatthehellhappenedtome -Fringe?

    by artdude102

    not on your list of JJ's things you hate compilation.

  • June 9, 2011, 2:49 p.m. CST

    This is an incredibly well writen review.

    by AsimovLives

    This guy should review for AICN more often.

  • June 9, 2011, 3 p.m. CST

    Hey Fatboy

    by Olsen Twins_Fan

    That was a helluva nice little review there.

  • June 9, 2011, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Súper Ocho!!!

    by animatronicmojo

    Dirigida por Señor Spielbergo!! <br> "Todavía se puede sentir el calor!"

  • June 9, 2011, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by Karl Hungus

    Chunky butt.

  • June 9, 2011, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Asi - Fatboy could have pasted JJ SUX for a page,

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    and you would have complemented him. My qualm is your assertion that AICN and others have drank JJ's Kool Aid and therefore give him a critical pass. That would include Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Variety, Rolling Stone, to name a few that have given positive reviews to Super 8, Star Trek AND MI:3. Can't we just agree to disagree?

  • In the future, this sentence will be used to test reading comprehension.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:16 p.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    Not that easily and not without arguments put on the table. And if 100,000 people jump to their deaths from a tall bridge, does that make them right as well? Just naming a lot of people as a reason to why something is right is a fallacy, you know? It even has a name, it's called fallacy by apppeal to popularity.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:52 p.m. CST

    Asi - You're missing my point. Yes, popularity is no

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    testament to quality. The Focker series would have made $1.73 total if that were true. I'm just commenting on your position that Abrams gets a pass from AICN because they're beholden to him, or have a crush on him like a teenage schoolgirl. And I didn't name just people, but publications who employ professionals to critique film, individuals who have probably seen more films in one year than you or I have seen in our lifetime.Do their opinions hold any more value than yours or mine? Well perhaps not. But they are getting paid for them.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:58 p.m. CST

    For Clarification's Sake:

    by Fatboy Roberts

    I am not demeaning Star Trek or Mission Impossible III in that last paragraph. I am saying that those are benchmarks in JJ's directorial career that he failed to hit in this movie. I really liked Star Trek, (my review of that is here - and I consider it - if not the best - definitely the most FUN Star Trek movie made, and Mission Impossible III had more than a few moments of real, palpable tension.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:31 p.m. CST

    Fatboy is a Movie Hipster

    by b

    It doesn't surprise me to see reviews like this from Fatboy. he is a majorly pretentious Douche Bag. He is very well known for this in Portland. In Oregon Fatboy is known for one of two things. People will either remember him as the DJ that got fired from KUFO or the leader of the pretentious comic-book and movie douches. its just a pile of hipsters that wear glasses that are to big for them and complain about EVERYTHING even themselves. its just sad to see that somehow he got his post on here. he thinks he is the biggest shit when it comes to anything pop culture and he doesn't even know how much he is made fun of. Just actually read what he is writing and then go watch a movie thinking about everything he said and you will understand the bullshit that is everyone else in his crew. unfortunately I have to hear his shit all the time because he frequents were I work and I don't think I have ever heard someone talk about themselves so much. I have already seen Super 8 and I thought it was great. it is easily my fav JJ movie now. it just goes to show how much of a tool Fatboy is. If you go check out his podcast or any of his previous reviews that are positive it will completely disown everything he is saying.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:30 p.m. CST

    RE: Moviedbag's embedded report from Portland.

    by Fatboy Roberts

    It's true. I own a considerable selection of cardigan sweaters. People mock them constantly. They think I don't hear them. But I do. It fuels my impotent rage, which is then injected into a diesel engine of smoldering condescension. I talk, and an exhaust of pure pretension spews from all orifices on my body capable of producing sound. What a broken, tiny vessel full of insecurity and inferiority I am, a hobbity-frame straining under the weight of self-loathing and condescension. People must see me shuffle by, mumbling to myself, and think "It's a wonder he can lift his feet to propel himself to a screening. Perhaps the imagined cheers of his nerdly, hipster followers is what forces him to go on, lest he be abandoned by their hivemind cool for something even more full of itself than he." Keep fighting the good fight, MovieDbag. Introduce yourself next time I'm patronizing (which is typical) your place of business. I will tip well, with my considerable podcast monies, in honor of your perserverance and dedication to your chosen profession in the face of mine - and my multitude of acolytes' - pretension and hubris. It is the least I can do for your generous, and unsolicited, suggestion that everyone who think I'm a fuckin douchebag go out and find all my shows, read all my reviews, and think about them thoroughly while they watch movies. In closing: Kill people. Burn Shit. Fuck School. Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:40 p.m. CST

    Seriously though,

    by Fatboy Roberts

    Thanks for listening/reading so much. No goofy bullshit. It's appreciated. And people berating others for acting smarter than they are, should rethink the word pretentious. Just use the word "Asshole" instead. I know about irony, you guys. I live in Portland and wear sweaters and funny hats. Trust me.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:52 p.m. CST

    RE: Fatboy & moviedbag

    by deebos_dro

    I have a grand conspiracy theory here. I think moviedbag and fatboy know each other, are the same person, or are somehow working together just to drum up interest for his pewp blog. It's a ruse. Don't let the drama churn any interest. There is no controversy.

  • June 9, 2011, 9:06 p.m. CST

    Portland, OR were the young go to retire...

    by Brandon Wolfe

    Portlandia is more true then you know. if you haven't seen it then check it out. also, Super 8 is the bees knees.

  • June 9, 2011, 9:08 p.m. CST

    In other words, typical Jar Jar Abrams. Looks pretty, but........

    by IronEagle74

    Not surprising from the guy who killed two major movie franchises(Mission Impossible, Star Trek)

  • June 9, 2011, 10:56 p.m. CST

    This Review is Spot On

    by Banjohik7

    Just came back from a screening of this movie through work. Completely disappointing. Starts strong, slowly falls apart. Doesn't earn any of the big emotional moments - and you'll know it's a big moment b/c the music swells louder than any movie I can remember in a while. Walked out of the screening and asked the woman in the elevator with me what she thought. She said "It wasn't that good." I was worried that I had become a cynical asshole, but she agreed that the emotional scenes just don't pay-off. The tone of the movie is all over the place and the kids dialogue becomes repetitive and annoying by the end. The acting is strong, there are some great shots, and some enjoyable moments, but it still felt like a carbon-copy As if Abrams was trying to out-Spielberg Spielberg. I say this as someone who is either a fan of or has enjoyed Abrams past work, including Felicity...

  • June 9, 2011, 11:29 p.m. CST


    by pauduro

    As to be spected for Mr lest see NORDLING lovvvvveeeeeeeeee this and claim its the bestesttttt of the bestttttttt

  • June 10, 2011, 1:30 a.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    AICN having a crush on JJ Abrams like a teenage schoolgirl is one of the best comparisons i ever seen for what's going on in here about him. It's so apt. And ifi had 5 bucks for each time professional critics got wrong and pissed on a good movie or praised the shit out of a bad movie and let themselves ride on the wave of zeitgeist without much thinking, i would be a filthy rich. And consiidering that nowdays the vast majority of film critics are geeks who get payed to review, bascially, they are cut form the same cloth as we are here at AICN, only they get payed, so yeah the type of geekasm we get in ehre will be more common (as already is) among the professional critics as well. So, no, again, to claim that Abrams and his works are good because of popularity, even amont the printing press, is nonsense. It's now how much like his stuff that matters, but how what they say about it. and when both the professional critics and the geeks like AICN review his mvoies and the majority say the exact same thing with litle to no variation, that's when things get very dicey.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:01 a.m. CST

    Word of mouth will hurt it's long term B.O.

    by Horace Cox

    Just saw it at midnight. Decent sized crowd that was enthusiastic at the beginning and pretty much deflated and disappointed while walking out at the end. Overheard several comments of the "wow, that was bad" and "there's two hours of my life I won't get back" variety. I enjoyed the beginning but as it dragged on it completely fell apart. The end is an absolute mess. The lair scene just felt flat and the ending is ridiculous. [SPOILER: They established that the monster just wanted to leave Earth. Then when it escapes, it apparently had the means to leave anytime it wished but it fucks around until some kid tells it to go home. Ummm, ok?] Between this movie and Star Trek, it seems like J.J. sure doesn't mind gaping plot holes in his films.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:02 a.m. CST

    fucking apostophes!

    by Horace Cox

    I meant its, not it's. Goddamned punctuation.

  • However, there's something i really believe: Super 8 is a better movie then Abrams Trek. But that's damning it with faint praise, because Abrams Trek is an horrible retard stupid terrible movie, a cinematic abortion for the ages. Abrams Trek is for Abrams what Argameggon is for Michael Bay: their worst movies which for some weird ass reason got very popular with the geeks and audiences and also very forgiven by most critics. I really think it's impossible for Abrams to make a worst movie then Abrams Trek. And if he ever will, Super 8 will not be it. I suspect that for some, the sense of disapointment they will get with Super 8 is what they should had with Abrams Trek but because they rode on the zeitgeist of the moment they let themselves got carried away and shut down their better critical capacities so to go with the flow. But with Super 8, they might just wake up from their pleasant slumber and notice that the hack boy Abrams and his movies they took to bed aren't actually what it cracked out to be in the unforgivable light of the morning.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:29 a.m. CST

    fuck this guy... you hear me fat boy!

    by thekylegassproject

    went to the midnight show last night and this flick has more wonder and magic in its little finger than the rest of Hollywood's current combined output. abrams is one of us made good who is telling the only decent (NOT to mention, original) genre stories out there. of course there will be a chorus of bullshit contrarian trolls and it looks like fatboy is leading the way. i'm going to agree with some of the above subject lines i quickly browsed: just another abrams hater. this guy is a movie hipster.

  • June 10, 2011, 6:32 p.m. CST


    by HiWayRobry

    Representin' Portland!! Boo-yah!! Nice review. I'm gonna see the movie, and I'm gonna enjoy it. But thanks for the honest appraisal of what YOU thought of the movie. And screw the people who bash you for articulating YOUR opinion of what you saw. Haters. Pssh!