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Massawyrm mulls over SUPER 8

Hola all. Massawyrm here.

SUPER 8 very much wants to be an Amblin film, so much so that it hits all the notes that one would expect from just such a film. That said, it is not an Amblin film; not in as much that it will be remembered among them and achieve classic status. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful film. I loved every moment of it. But it feels more like a great modern band doing a song in the style of an immortal classic band than it does that original band itself playing a new song. You get what JJ Abrams is going for, but it never quite becomes what it is trying so hard to be.

The biggest distinction between this and the films to which it is being so often compared is that it is, in concept, *trying* to be one of those films. Each of the films that inspired it – whether it be ET or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS or THE GOONIES – started out as a really great idea that was then filled with great characters. This feels like Abrams worked backwards – creating great characters with very fleshed out arcs, only to add the science fiction later. This is, at its heart, a coming of age film. And on that front it is magnificently composed. The children are great, the love story touching and the setup of how they come together is everything Abrams clearly wanted to put on film.

But Abrams is once again playing by his “Mystery Box” rules, keeping things guarded and close to the chest in order to build suspense. Trouble is, this kind of thing only really works if we get a very real sense of what it is we are not being shown. In Spielberg’s JAWS or Lewton’s CAT PEOPLE – two of the greatest examples of “mystery box” films – we get a clear sense of the menace we’re not being shown. It is easy to understand, even if we don’t have a clear picture in our heads of the size and scope of the creature until late in film. SUPER 8 is high concept. REALLY high concept. There’s a lot of information to get out before the mystery is finally unraveled, and by then, those having trouble connecting to this film will have checked out.

It’s important to note that, at the end of the day, I love every bit of this mystery. But those that don’t, or won’t, will find this to be one of the major sticking points. Like CLOVERFIELD before it, they’ll wish to have seen more of this story told from a very different perspective. And the story you really care about – the one with the kids – could easily have been inserted into half a dozen other concepts and worked just as perfectly as it does here. In other words, this movie could have been split into two separate films without people having known they ever belonged together.

It is exactly the type of summer film I expect many to shrug off while we geek masses scream about its genius. The very best moments here don’t involve monsters or special effects; they involve children watching movies in their bedroom or being chased off by bitter, conflicted parents. For those of you that complain that there aren’t enough real stories or great characters in the summer season, this will prove to be an oasis amid a desert of stock characters and CG. Abrams proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he has to potential to make a lot more than just popcorn fare; there is a heart and soul to this that tells me he will be chasing an Oscar sometime within the next decade and that, if the story is right, he might well get it. In that way, Spielberg is the perfect mentor for him.

But the only way this will ever be spoken of along with the classics is for its deliberate attempt to be among them. It is a really great homage with its own perfect elements, but not an instant classic in any way. It’s just great – and one of the films you shouldn’t escape the summer without having seen. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Until next time friends,


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Readers Talkback
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  • June 10, 2011, 7:36 a.m. CST



  • June 10, 2011, 7:40 a.m. CST


    by Massawyrm 1

    Not when Abrams himself refers to this theory of filmmaking:

  • June 10, 2011, 7:40 a.m. CST


    but beyond the "first" silliness, the reviews have been mixed on this one. I'm going to see it, but I'm not expecting another Goonies... I'm an adult now and nothing will top the shit I saw as a kid and I've stopped going back and watching stuff I loved as a kid, they just weren't holding up...

  • June 10, 2011, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Mystery box

    by lookylookymoontard

    God i hate that term............with all my might

  • June 10, 2011, 7:45 a.m. CST

    Brief and to the point ... Damn good review.


    Three thumbs up Mass ...

  • June 10, 2011, 7:47 a.m. CST

    Strange review. Doesn't sound like you like it.

    by knowthyself

    But then you say geeks are going to call it genius.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:47 a.m. CST

    Loved the analogy

    by ATARI

    Of it being a great cover of a classic song.<br> <br> Plan on seeing this at a matinee on Monday, so I'm done reading reviews and forums until after I see it.<br> <br>

  • there wasn't. LIARS!

  • I'm kinda bummed, actually. It's my own fault. Serves CHOPPAH right for getting expectations up for an Abrams film. I need solace. Thank goodness for virginal Tasmanian whores and pure Colombian cocaine.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:51 a.m. CST

    Finally - Massa, don't be such a stranger!

    by Rex Carsalot

  • June 10, 2011, 7:53 a.m. CST

    "Mystery box" = Lady Gaga's meat canyon


    As in, who knows what mysteries lurk in that box ...

  • June 10, 2011, 7:54 a.m. CST

    the original band playing a new song =

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    Jurassic Park 2

  • June 10, 2011, 7:58 a.m. CST

    btw - what are these "classics"?

    by Thunderbolt Ross

    I mean I loved Goonies as much as the next guy but it's only a classic insomuch as it's old

  • June 10, 2011, 8:01 a.m. CST

    Prometheus set pictures leaked ...

    by Valaquen

    and AICN doesn't report it, despite being informed yesterday. Well, here's a link for you guys:

  • Why watch a masturbatory fetish object xeroxed by a hack when I can watch the real deal and enjoy it instead?

  • June 10, 2011, 8:21 a.m. CST

    JJ Abrams = tv guy

    by Spandau Belly

    Michael Mann = real filmmaker who did tv

  • June 10, 2011, 8:27 a.m. CST

    I get more up to date news from the talk backs

    by knowthyself

    Then AICN. Thanks for the prometheus link.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:41 a.m. CST

    Mystery box?!? Emperor's New Clothes, more like.

    by irishraidersfan

    Come on, Massa et al. Okay, sure, I've not seen Super 8 yet, but JJ's 'mystery box' is a total pile of shit, his latest possibly excluded. His track record is "all fur coat and no knickers" - and people generally (inexplicably, favourably!) judge the book by its cover. I've found with material that's *not* his own to begin with (MI3, Star Trek) he does a fine job, but with his own? An empty box, not a mystery one.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:03 a.m. CST

    You lose all credibility

    by DeathShrike

    when you refer to The Goonies as though the film is a classic. Super 8 is a masterpiece compared to that film. In fact, it is a masterpiece.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:04 a.m. CST

    The sci-fi element was tacked on

    by Truxton Spangler

    Abrams has made no secret of that in the publicity for the film.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:05 a.m. CST

    I'm not sold completely

    by david starling

    I count myself as a movie "geek" to use the term, but I become geeky by those films which I enjoy, and inspire me, and no-one else. And I think that applies to everyone, really. So really, it should be those that love the movie will be geeky about it. Others, including genre buffs even, who might not have enjoyed the film, will wonder what the fuss is about. Oh, and its here in the UK in August - by which point it will pointless to go and see it, as it will have been spoilered to death anyway.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:16 a.m. CST

    GOONIES isn't really all that great.


    It's fun, but it doesn't hold up. I might watch it with the younger of my 12 kids, but I'll never want to watch it for myself. And that's cool. Just don't go calling it a classic. Holy fuck. CHOPPED.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST


    by doom master

    I'm seemingly the only person who believes Abrams' goal to be the next Spielberg is unwarranted and undeserved...but not anymore.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:35 a.m. CST

    abrams ...the barack obama of film-making

    by animas

    hope-crushing waste of potential that doesn't deserve any more of my money or time. doubt i will even watch this movie ...ever. .... going to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D today.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:36 a.m. CST

    Mistery Box

    by Fabian Santos

  • June 10, 2011, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Life is like a Mystery Box of chocolates.

    by cookylamoo

    Unfortunately, there's a lot of fucking nougats and jellies.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Strange Review

    by bigpale

    but I think I get it. I expect to walk into this flick hoping it will be up to the standards of Amblin circa 80's. But I will walk out with it having missed the mark. I'll love it, but I'll hate that it didn't quite reach its full potential (or the potential it intentionally set out to reach). I think that's what Massa' was going for.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:11 a.m. CST

    abrams....the obangyomama of film making

    by abe

  • June 10, 2011, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Pretentious jerks

    by Nuck81

    Just go watch the movie!! Why does everything have to have some special significance, or South Parkesque bullshit "point" Just pay for your ticket, get some popcorn, and watch the colors on screen

  • June 10, 2011, 10:44 a.m. CST

    Set in the 70s

    by fatmoshe

    The films JJ is attempting to replicate were not "set" in the 70s or 80s. They were shot during the 70s and 80s. I wonder if Super 8 would be getting the same sort of reception if JJ set it in modern times? I haven't seen the film yet, but I am sure that nothing in it demands that the film be set in the 70s. Just curious. What do the rest of you think?

  • June 10, 2011, 10:51 a.m. CST

    nuck81 must see every single movie that hits screens.


    It's pretentious to be discerning consumer, apparently. CHOPPED.

  • So this is why I'm done with movies.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:54 a.m. CST

    ricarleite4: Speak for yourself.


    I was pretty amazed by the CG in JURASSIC PARK, T2, THE MATRIX, LOTR and AVATAR. It's the filmmaker, silly. CHOPPED.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:55 a.m. CST

    A prediction.....

    by v3d

    The porn parody will be titled, Super 8 Inches. That is all.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:56 a.m. CST

    "Theory of Filmmaking" Seems a Bit Generous

    by Aquatarkusman

    "Tired gimmick used to wow the hopelessly credulous" seems more accurate.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:04 a.m. CST

    train wreck as in Fugitive

    by kabong

    how many other sequences homaged <p> string enough sequences together, call it a movie

  • June 10, 2011, 11:04 a.m. CST

    These reviews are all so conflicted!

    by Raymar

    I'm nervous!

  • June 10, 2011, 11:05 a.m. CST

    I don't get the hate for Abrams

    by Amazing Maurice

    You'd think he was Michael Bay the way some people carry on around here. The guy just made a summer popcorn movie that isn't a sequel, reboot or comic book/novel adaptation. That alone should be applauded. Not to mention that the movie seems to be deliberately aimed at cinema fans like us, as being a celebration of the kind of films that we grew up with. For fuck sake, cut the guy some slack....

  • June 10, 2011, 11:18 a.m. CST

    Amazing Maurice

    by MC-909

    It's not that JJ deliberately made a film aimed at cinema fans like us...well, actually, it is. But there is no love or passion behind it. All he did was make a film deliberately aimed at our nostalgia. It just seems like he didn't care what the movie was about, as long as it had all the elements Amblin has become known for, and that's what he's trying to sell.

  • Cloverfield was like a film-school concept with a big budget. Star Trek doesn't hold up to further viewings. Alias has a VERY select fan base. He just doesn't bring with him the cache that you get with Spielberg, Nolan, or even Ridley Scott. Yet, somehow people seem to mention him with the heavyweights as if his resume warrants it...

  • June 10, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Tip of the hat to you, too, cocknasty.


    Your RIP posts are highlights.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST


    by Koyaanisqatsi

    Please stop holding up The Goonies as the paragon of great childrens entertainment. Have any of you watched it recently? I watched it again last year after not having seen it 15 years and I had trouble just sitting through it. It's not that good!

  • June 10, 2011, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Prometheus set pics...why aren't these posted?

    by marineboy - for those of you interested ...more interesting than the tattoo being cgi-altered for the dvd release of Hangover II lol :s

  • June 10, 2011, 11:51 a.m. CST

    Goonies Tried So Hard You Could Feel It Sweating


    Each of the films that inspired it – whether it be ET or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS or THE GOONIES – started out as a really great idea that was then filled with great characters.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:57 a.m. CST

    ricarleite4 - there is so much CGI that you probably

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    aren't even aware of, such as the entire recreation of '70s San Francisco for Fincher's Zodiac, or a majority of the interior for Duncan Jones' Moon. You truly are an idiot.

  • June 10, 2011, 12:06 p.m. CST

    @ marineboy, re: Prometheus pics

    by Valaquen

    I emailed AICN the shots yesterday. Guess they're not interested in Scott's new film? *shrugs*

  • June 10, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST

    I don't hate abrams

    by professor murder

    Actually, there is a lot of stuff I like that he is associated with, like Fringe and most of LOST. But when it comes to directing, his resume isn't even really that long, especially in movies: Super 8 Star Trek Mission Impossible 3 and......well, aside from some tv movies, that's it folks. Yes people, he didn't direct Cloverfield. Not much to judge on at all. I think JJ Abrams strength is his writing, which is what he deserves recognition for, but everyone on here is hating on him for his movies. So when coughlinslaw says that nothing he does is worthy of praise? I think as a writer and a creator, he has some signs of brilliance.

  • June 10, 2011, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Wow openthepodbaydoorshal

    by professor murder

    You are telling people what they are and aren't aware of, then calling them dumb because of it? How do you know what anyone else knows? Choppa needs to slap you dead so cocknasybuttstank can declare your time.

  • June 10, 2011, 12:19 p.m. CST

    The second prometheus pic looks pretty impressive

    by aphextwin

    It' s massive set work...and a closer look inside the large entrance you can definately see Giger stuff...yay!

  • June 10, 2011, 12:21 p.m. CST

    JJ Abrams/Ricky Gervais

    by MC-909

    Did anyone else see that HBO special thing where Ricky Gervais had a roundtable discussion with Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis CK? It was produced by Gervais and if you watch it, it's plainly obvious why he produced it: he wants to be, or considers himself an equal (in stand-up comedy) to Seinfeld, Rock, and CK. By the end of the show, Gervais had made a total ass of himself, to the point where he said, (talking about stand-up comedy) "well, I had done the Office and I wanted to show people this other thing I can do." To which Chris Rock turns to Louis CK and mouths the words, "what, bomb?" It then turned into Seinfeld, Rock, and CK trying to explain to Ricky that he wasn't a stand-up comedian in the true sense that they were, even though Ricky kept insinuating that he was (he's not. Ricky's funny but he's not even in the top 50) Chris Rock even said "We ain't got the Office. We don't do this part-time. This is our lives." That's what JJ and Super 8 seem like to me: Modern-day Ricky Gervais.

  • June 10, 2011, 12:22 p.m. CST


    by Nuck81

    You don't impress me. Gimmick talkbackers are the lowest form of Momma's Basement loser. Make an effort, contribute to society...

  • June 10, 2011, 12:31 p.m. CST

    J.J. Abrams pulls a Tarantino basically

    by Squinty CGI Flynn

  • June 10, 2011, 12:41 p.m. CST

    next week Green Lantern...

    by Titus05

    the following week Cars 2...then Dark of the Moon and Deathly Hallows Part 2...Super 8 will open big but then fade to black rather quickly...people want to see crazy CGI, loud explosions, cursing and Michael Bay during the summer

  • June 10, 2011, 1:17 p.m. CST

    nuck81: I don't impress you?


    That's actually a really low blow since it seems that it doesn't take too much to impress you, at least when it comes to movies. Hey, isn't MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS opening soon? Better get your ticket! CHOPPED.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:20 p.m. CST

    professor murder - ricarleite4's post

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    "What is missing is the sense of amazement we all lost when CGI came around..So this is why I'm done with movies." such a stupid blanket statement. Choppah disagreed with some obvious choices for example..Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Avatar, etc. I just brought up some examples where the digital work is more subtle. ricarleite4 said he was through with movies because almost anything is possible visually through CGI. And I'm the dick? Okkaaaayy.....

  • JJ's personal touch is nonsensical CG lens flare.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:22 p.m. CST

    I got your back, openthepodbaydoorshal.


    I got your back, too, professor murder. Contrary to classical physics and so-called common sense, CHOPPAH can be two places at once.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:23 p.m. CST

    This movie is all short hand

    by Bass Ackwards

    All the major story beats aren't told in a compelling story or relayed by interesting characters so much as they're simply placed in front of you like a dead fish, then reanimated using cinematic language and archetypes established by previous movies. I didn't find anything of genuine excitement or emotion in this film.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:32 p.m. CST

    @ mc-909

    by Amazing Maurice

    I agree with you in part, I don't rate Abrams as a great film maker either. But at least the guy ATTEMPTED this. He seems as though he's tried to make a love letter to all those fantastic early 80's summer blockbuster that we all hold so dearly. Even if he doesn't hit the mark, he should still be applauded. Who the fuck else in Hollywood would have attempted this? Would we rather live in a world where movies like this DIDN'T get made? Hey roll on Bayformers 3 and watch it dominate the cinema this summer.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST


    by professor murder

    you forgot to chop us all at the end of your last comment, ha

  • June 10, 2011, 1:44 p.m. CST

    My mystery box

    by Olsen Twins_Fan

    is my tight, virgin bunghole!

  • June 10, 2011, 1:45 p.m. CST

    The Abrams hype finally sizzles

    by kwisatzhaderach

    Thank god.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST because JJ says it you have to regurgitate it?

    by awepittance

  • June 10, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST

    I'm honored sir

    by openthepodbaydoorshal


  • June 10, 2011, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Gotcha Massa...

    by MrMajestic

    it feels more like a great modern band doing a song in the style of an immortal classic band than it does that original band itself playing a new song

  • June 10, 2011, 2:03 p.m. CST

    cont. <sigh>

    by MrMajestic

    So what you're saying is Spielberg's stuff is The Beatles and Abrams' movie is Oasis. I hate Oasis. I guess I can save my money then.

  • June 10, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Amazing Maurice

    by MC-909

    Don't get me wrong, I really do appreciate JJ's effort. And he is probably the most prolific producer in Hollywood at the moment. But I just wish he'd do his own thing instead of trying to recreate the magic of the past. Even the way MI:3 was filmed looked like he was going for that Amblin magic. JJ seems like a really smart smart. He seems to be calculating his films for maximum profit and nothing else. Which I think is fine. But in doing so he effectively kills the soul of any movie he makes. On the other hand, Michael Bay doesn't give a shit about soul. All he cares about is spectacle. Which is fine by me, too, since that's what he's going for. JJ's going for a combination of the two: soul AND spectacle, which is what Spielberg was so good at. Honestly, until JJ breaks away from wanting to be The Beard, he will never reach that level. He has to come up with his own style, which he doesn't have at the moment.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:13 p.m. CST

    On the subject of 'JJ saying it'

    by mukhtabi

    Since this is JJ Abrams' film, and he talked AT LENGTH about mystery boxes, and can't seem to avoid obsessing endlessly about them, the critical and theoretical imperative is to explore Mr. Abrams' films by this clearly underlined, emboldened, and italicized idea that he clearly uses as his defining arc of all stories. Therefore, Massawyrm and all other reviewers who mention mystery boxes are doing it the right way, calling the film by the essential core of it's story. That in the case of Super 8, the mystery box in question is NOT the inherent core of the story is distinctly a departure for Abrams. Will wait to see it before I fully make up my mind about it.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Stae Trek, yes; Super 8 ...

    by luke_lymon

    NO JJ just lost my trust. Super 8 was too jumbled. Kinda like Goonies meet Cloverfield and thats not good in my book.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:45 p.m. CST

    A little Goonies Love..

    by Candy

    I'm so glad that I'm the only one here who absolutely loves the Goonies. More Ke Huy Quan for me! I mean no one else was fighting for the first Goonies key prop that mezzo put out at san Diego comi con 2007..all mine baby. When I drive to Astoria from rhode island on my cross country trip this summer, there will be "no lines, no waiting" at the Goonies house or at haystack rock.. Hell Yeah..I'm keeping it all for myself. This movie might not be considered a classic..but it brings me back to the 80's where all us kids cared about was riding our bikes and adventuring mindlessly in the summer (before technology and cell phones ruled our worlds) It was the best of times..I thought the 80s was a great time! Weren't we all Goonies then? I haven't gone to Super 8 yet..but I'm hoping hard for a similar doesn't have to be fantastic..No one can really remake those Amblin films..who ever said it, said it right- they just have a certain spirit, there's no way of duplicating that. I'm just hoping for a fun time..and then on to !Cowboys vs. Aliens! I won't get my panties in a bunch if these movies are considered crap by most..they're made for sake of fun. If I wanted to criticize film, I'd go watch some junk like the english patient or whatever. Enjoy the Show.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:46 p.m. CST

    This review is unbelievable and far too kind

    by Star Hump

    A wonderful film? The children are great? Wyrm, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were working the bubbler before you went into the theater. I know you know what a "wonderful" film is. Super 8 isn't one, not by a long shot. C'mon 'fess up. You were baked out of your gourd when you saw this movie, or when you wrote it up, or quite possibly both.

  • June 10, 2011, 3:55 p.m. CST

    rubix cube wasn't until 1980

    by akkosa

    and i thought elle fanning was the monster with her freakishly long neck.... then i fell asleep about 45 minutes into it.

  • June 10, 2011, 4:05 p.m. CST


    by donkingkong

    I'm sure it'll be great if you were only lukewarm to it.

  • June 10, 2011, 4:31 p.m. CST

    Porn parody? Just add "in the butt" at the end...

    by Darth Macchio

    Seriously. Porn version of Jaws? Jaws in the butt. Porn version of Romancing the Stone? Romancing the Stone in the butt. Porn version of Super 8? Yep, you guessed it, Super 8 in the butt. M:I in the butt. Cloverfield in the butt. Knight and Day in the butt. King Kong in the butt. Star Trek in the butt. The Lovely Bones in the butt. I could do this all day... Book of Eli in the butt, The Thing in the butt, The Goonies in the butt, Lord of the Rings in the butt, Star Wars in the butt (the Empire Strikes Back in the Butt). Wayne's World in the butt. The Matrix in the butt. (ok, that's enough, I think you can take it from here)

  • Good job, my feelings exactly

  • June 10, 2011, 4:47 p.m. CST

    what capovin2012 said about what bass ackwards said

    by kabong

  • June 10, 2011, 5:05 p.m. CST

    Professor Murder


    CHOPPAH CHOPS when he damn well pleases. CH- CH- CHOPPED.

  • June 10, 2011, 5:08 p.m. CST

    "Mystery box" and why it sucks

    by denzacar

    Orson Welles said "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.". Or something similar to that. He was talking about money, but the quote can just as easily be applied to special effects, writing, star-actors... Spielberg was forced to WORK AROUND problems in Jaws. So were Lewton and Tourneur with Cat People. On the other side you have Lucas with Star Wars prequels and Michael Bay with almost everything - approach where you just throw money and special effects on the pile whenever you encounter a problem. What Abrams is doing with his "mystery box" is that he is trying to imagine the unsolvable problem and then imagine a way to work around it - either with(in) story or with special effects. And that is kinda like trying to hide something from yourself inside your own living room - it doesn't really work, cause all you're really doing is trying to ignore the fact that you know where it is the whole time. And even should you manage to forget - you still know WHAT you are looking for and WHERE it could be. It IS your living room, after all. So it comes out as FAKE. Or simply bad. We end up with a fake elephant-shaped mystery which Abrams was trying to hide around the room the entire movie, and which is not really mysterious at all once the "big reveal" takes place. Instead, it is obviously a cheap parlor trick - like the contents of that cardboard box he has. Not even a real elephant, but a cardboard cutout of it. Made to look big with mirrors and shadows on the wall. And since he was pretending that it was a mystery the whole time, he no longer knows what NOT to reveal in the end - because it was all "make believe" for him the whole time. He is like a kid doing a magic trick, pulling it off - and then proceeding to explain how it was done. And then still claiming that it was actually REAL magic. He is taking his imaginary MacGuffin (as in one that he is hiding from himself), making it real (for both him and the audience), and then he de-MacGuffinizes it taking the mystery that he was investing in the whole time completely out of the picture. What remains is no longer a MacGuffin story once you do that. Now it's a story about actual objects and actual people with actual motivations - except it was and still is all imaginary and relying on the MacGuffin to hold it all in place - and it can no longer stand on its own once you de-MacGuffinize the MacGuffin. You know... like what midi-chlorians did to the Force.

  • June 10, 2011, 5:28 p.m. CST

    you got a problem with midichlorians?

    by CT1


  • June 10, 2011, 5:31 p.m. CST

    Not a Home Run

    by Jerry Danzig

    I saw S8 today with an old friend who is a fellow connoisseur of the great 70s Spielberg flicks. We both felt that S8 is a solid double or triple, but sadly it misses being a home run. There were too many loose ends -- or important plot points that might have been lost in all the tumult -- and a few moments that should have evoked a sharp emotional response from the audience fell flat. For example, remember how the audience cheered when the Alien chomped the evil corporate guy played by Paul Reiser in "Aliens"? There's a moment like that here, but it doesn't make it because we don't hate the bad guy enough. Although we know he's a slime ball, we haven't seen him do something so despicable that we hate him with a passion. Similarly, it doesn't feel as though the kids in S8 are in any particular peril, even when they are. We also noticed some anachronisms in the language. Kids in the 70s NEVER said "mint" in the modern usage, and JJ resorts to that expression several times here. Any screenwriter working on a period piece like this should watch and re-watch similar movies of the era -- like "The Goonies", say -- and use ONLY slang and vernacular contained in those films, to assure accuracy. My friend and I felt that the script felt rushed. Maybe with a few more months of polish, JJ could have dotted the i's and crossed the t's. Based on this reaction to S8, we sure hope he throttles back and really sweats the new Star Trek script. That franchise is too important to too many of us to fall short like S8. On the positive side, S8 moved right along, we were never bored -- and the kids were great, Elle Fanning in particular.

  • June 10, 2011, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Il Pass

    by pauduro

    Not intrestes...for torrent il try it not on cinemas thanks

  • June 10, 2011, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Richard Donner should get more credit for...

    by cameron1975willi good Gonnies is.

  • June 10, 2011, 6:17 p.m. CST

    Goonies IS a classic

    by barnaby jones

    end of.

  • June 10, 2011, 6:29 p.m. CST

    Massawyrm mullets over SUPER 8

    by AsimovLives

  • June 10, 2011, 6:40 p.m. CST


    by AsimovLives

    In quantum mechanics, it's possible for the same particle to be at the two places at the same time, or in two different states at the same time. But it only works at quantum scales, aka, the super-mocorscopic. So, are you telling us you are like Schrondinger's cat? The_Choppah is quantic?

  • June 10, 2011, 6:42 p.m. CST

    The only thing that Abrams impresses me is his capacity to bullshit.

    by AsimovLives

    His powers of bullshitting are so vast he could be a superhero.

  • If the name in the director's credit had been Spielberg instead of Donner , nobody would had been none the wiser. Donner could pull a Spielberg, but Donner is (or was) a talented filmmaker.

  • June 10, 2011, 6:46 p.m. CST

    Is it just me or is Massa's review very appologetic?

    by AsimovLives

  • June 10, 2011, 6:58 p.m. CST

    That's right, Asi.


    No plane can hold me. And I don't mean in the Kevin Smith sense, either.

  • Anyone younger than 35-40 doesn't get what The Goonies, E.T. or CEOTTK was.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:15 p.m. CST

    That's why Super 8 will fail - it targets old people

    by TheKiller7

  • WORD.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:16 p.m. CST

    If J.J. can get this released on VHS along with the DVD and BD --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- I'll have a lot more respect for him.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:39 p.m. CST

    Asi...Being THE_CHOPPAH is hard work


    Time can't change me...but, I can.. change ...time...

  • June 10, 2011, 7:46 p.m. CST

    I used to dabble in quantum mechanics


    back when we still called it BLACK MAGIC.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:52 p.m. CST

    I was offered a fellowship at the Large Hadron Collider


    But, they balked at my demands. I didn't ask for a salary, or a pension or even mileage reimbursement. All I wanted was for them to move the 'r' in Hadron one position front of the ''d'.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:52 p.m. CST

    So in other words Massa

    by GroolDemon

    It is decontstructionist Amblin? From the sound of it this movie seems to be hitting a lot of the same chords that Where the Wild Things Are did a couple of years ago. Am I correct in that assumption?

  • June 10, 2011, 8:09 p.m. CST

    teabaggerharry is 45 years old --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- and is bitter that he missed all those great movies because his mother "discouraged" him.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:10 p.m. CST

    SOooo sick of this tired depiction of "superior life forms"

    by Behemoth

    (Spoilers, douchebags.) I mean, it's moronic at this point, OK, Hollywank? You've got a species of supposedly superior intellect with infinitely superior technology, and what does it do? It walks around like a spider, grunts and makes clicky-sounding reptilian noises with its teeth. Oh, and it wraps other lifeforms up like a spider and eats them raw. Yeah, I believe that thing could pilot a spaceship made out of whatever the hell that material was. This is the MO of nearly every single freaking alien these days. Can someone out there PLEASE come up with a new template? It makes ... no .... sense. Speaking of which, wouldn't people hanging upside down for days on end die from blood rushing to the head? Ridiculous. And stupid. There were some great performances in this film, and even some touching emotional notes that were hit. But the film overall was a disappointing miss.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:13 p.m. CST

    You can never go back...

    by Boober

    You really can't. I remember when I first encountered the original Optimus Prime toy. I remember the experience and wonder of my parents buying that toy for me and how it captured my imagination. Optimus toys these days, no matter how much bigger and more advanced they are, still won't ever re-capture the magic that I felt with the original. Abrams desperately tries to combat the "You can never go back" phenomenon with polish and the mystery box, but, as we all really can NEVER go back. Children these days experience a very differnet world, well, differently, and it will take a power different than that of a Spielberg facsimile to capture their imaginations.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:31 p.m. CST

    I've never seen anything by Abrams that I liked.

    by MajorFrontbum

    Everything his name is on, to me is fucking rubbish. I have never been convinced that the guy is talented and the only reason he got where he is in this business, is because his parents are television producers - not because of any such talent.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:35 p.m. CST

    moosemalloy knew my mother - so he must be 85 years old

    by TheKiller7

    I tell you, its a retirement home here.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:44 p.m. CST

    I liked Super 8

    by Happyfat73

    I think Massa's review is spot on.... it's really quite good, but it isn't an instant classic (then again, what is?).</p> </p> It definitely wears it's influences on its sleeve... The setting felt like it could have been the same town that ET was set in. In fact, the main kid even looked a bit like Elliot.</p> </p> I liked that it treated its characters with respect, but do agree that the alien stuff felt a bit disonant with the rest of it - although there were a couple of good set pieces (the "prison bus" set piece was very tense.)</p> </p> All in all, think Abrams did a fine job directing this in the style of Spielberg - there were some really quite beautifully composed shots in the quiet moments (and, yes, the lens flares do almost feel like self-parody at this point.)</p> </p> Count me as another who doesn't get the Abrams hate. This film should surely confound those people with binary thinking, for whom everything is either sucks balls or totally awesome. Because it definitely doesn't suck balls, and although there are moments, it never quite scales the heights of totally awesome either.</p> </p> All that said, I'm square in the age group and demographic that this was made to appeal to, so I did get the extra kick out of the early Amblin nostalgia that some of he young 'uns might not buy into.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:59 p.m. CST

    teabaggerharry --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- you talk a lot during movies don't you. And THE MATRIX is your favorite, right?

  • June 10, 2011, 9:16 p.m. CST

    Before anyone asks, YES there are lens flares

    by beane2099

    The film is LOUSY with 'em. The movie actually ENDS with a friggen lens flare. I kid you not. It was if Abrams was saying "Yeah! That? How bout that?!" I didn't hate the lens flares in Star Trek like some folks did, but it irritated me here. If my job didn't afford me free movies I would not have seen this, I'll admit. Those things aside, Abrams did do a good job with the characters and such. It's rare these days when child characters aren't annoying as hell, and that didn't happen here. So I give points for that. Overall it was a decent flick, but DAMN those lens flares.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:24 p.m. CST

    Massa... you're fantastic. I love you :|

    by Dharma4

    This review nailed it. It's exactly how I feel over it. It's definitely a coming of age movie with half baked sci-ideas in them. My friend even leaned in and said, "That thing looks like the Cloverfield monster."

  • June 10, 2011, 9:32 p.m. CST

    It misses the mark multiple ways...sorry but true

    by corplhicks

    This is a movie that attempts to be an 80s Spielberg kids acting beyond their years type of movie. It's a homage to a director and filmmaker that cannot be touched. Not now, not then. The human story here just doesn't sink in enough, the pain, anguish, fear, family strife-- you just don't care quite enough. The alien to me looked different in form in various scenes-- size wise and appearance wise. A few times it looked like a small Cloverfield alien, especially with those oversize arms. Even when we see the alien fact, it hinted of Cloverfield. How it built an interstellar space ship from scrap parts is absurd in any dimensional reality. The Army gets a bad wrap despite the recent Abrams interview saying it doesn't-- but that's ok, Spielberg and Cameron almost always make the military and police look evil and/or impotent-- ET, WOTW, T2, T3, T1, Abyss, Avatar.etc etc. etc. The lead child actor was good and compelling but the Fanning kid was better. All kids were underutilized. The attempt to make the kids group a cohesive Goonies group failed--you just do not know them all well enough by the end or care enough. It was a valiant attempt to make a ET/Goonies/Close Encounters/Cloverfield homage that comes reasonably close but doesn't quite make it. B-/C+

  • June 10, 2011, 9:52 p.m. CST

    @ Barnaby Jones - Right On!!

    by Candy

  • June 10, 2011, 9:53 p.m. CST

    high concept

    by noiretblanc

    When will people realize that the term "high concept" doesn't mean what they think it means: the complete opposite of what it actually means? I always cringe when professional critics (re: people who get payed to criticize) use it wrong. Here's a tip: use "highly conceptual," instead.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:54 p.m. CST

    Is this really the correct use of "high concept"?

    by mrgray

    Many, many people use that term in the completely wrong way. Not sure it's being used correctly here.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:55 p.m. CST

    dammit, noiretblanc, and your 1 minute typing!

    by mrgray

  • June 10, 2011, 9:59 p.m. CST

    Uh, WTF. RE: mrgray

    by noiretblanc

    The weird coincidence of two people with screen names that amount to the same thing saying what amounts to be the same thing is a lot more mysterious and interesting that Super 8. That's some uncanny shit.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:40 p.m. CST

    Falls apart in the 2nd hour

    by Dursman2000

    A great start, a terrific build-up, and then...somehow...the movie loses its way. Might have something to do with how it turns from a Spielbergian type of fantasy into CLOVERFIELD/1950s monster movie in the 2nd hour. You expect that emotional magic from a Spielberg film and it never gets there. Either way the tonal change is jarring and I never thought the film got back on track. Emotionally I also never found myself really caring about the father or the son -- the focus of the movie really shifts off track to the degree where the pieces don't come together. A shame because there ARE some great moments in there.

  • and super 8 is the best movie of they year so far. but i havent seen tree of life, so maybe not. but super 8 is amazing, and the coming of age stuff was much better than the sci fi stuff, but the sci-fi stuff is still awesome

  • June 10, 2011, 11:05 p.m. CST

    I agree, yet disagree with you...PLEASE READ

    by LegendarySpartanBlood

    The movie had some serious golden moments. I watched it tonight and had feelings like i was watching Jaws for the first time, or maybe E.T. again. It was a really good movie. The children acting were phenomenal! They made me feel like i was 12 again! It was almost like Stand by Me and a day of the trifids all in one! I was thrilled like i haven't been thrilled in ages! And GodDammit I was tense the whole way through. That train wreck scene was incredibly intense! Seriously, It was absolutely BugFUCKnuts. Whatever, this was a good movie, I enjoyed the shit out of it. More so than anything else this year. My childhood has been restored by JJ and Steven. THANK GOD!

  • Where did all the dogs go? Dogs go missing. The boy posts missing dog note on a bulletin board filled with missing dog notes. Did any of the dogs come back? Was this even addressed? I can't even remember now. The alien was some kind of space arachnid. "Super 8". If only the screenplay was as clever as the dual meaning title.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:18 p.m. CST

    Concerned, but ready

    by Ganzeric

    I'm probably as excited to see Super8 as any of the big summer flicks, save maybe Cap America. The more I see previews and hear little bits of info, I'm just afraid that it's going to end up being formulaic, ET/First Encounters rehash. Hope the feeling is wrong. for new movies, music, video game, book release dates

  • June 10, 2011, 11:49 p.m. CST


    by NinjaDeathPoet

    My take after seeing it earlier today: It is a collection of performances. Mind you, wonderful performances, and rather amazing at some points, but just that. The story has no imprint whatsoever for me, in fact, I can barely remember it... I do, however, love emotion in movies, and this one packed a serious punch in a couple of it's sequences. The "other" Fanning girl was quite incredible I have to say.

  • See, to me that kinda bullshit sounds like the sourgrapes eye of the beholder bullshit that the last South Park was ranting about. And in 5 years people will bitch that films were only epic before 3D, rinse repeat. It all has to do with how you use it. As someone who is in their twenties, some of the most epic awe-inspiring moments for me have been CGI scenes. Like in Gladiator when they first enter the coliseum and it does that 360 view, I felt like I was fucking there, that this dead empire had come to life. Or The Two Towers when we first see Gollum, I turned to my friend and said "I've never seen anything like that before in my life." Or in Pirates 2 when the Kraken destroys the first ship and it breaks into two. Or the opening battle of Fellowship of the Ring. Or, I guess it's only a minor CG effect of a knife, but that fucking hallway scene in Oldboy. Or... or... or... all aided or created with CGI.

  • June 11, 2011, 12:43 a.m. CST

    Of course THE GOONIES is a classic.

    by one9deuce

    It isn't a great film like E.T. or CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, but it has endured for 25 years and we will still be talking about it on AICN in another 25 years. All "kids going on an adventure" films will always be compared to THE GOONIES.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:18 a.m. CST

    The Goonies Spielberg style

    by Munro Kelly

    I believe it was Spielberg's presence on set and the editing room that helped give it the Spielberg touch. It's not widely reported but Spielberg was the second unit director (uncredited) on The Goonies. I've read that the majority of the opening jail break was directed by him. The film was also edited by Michael Kahn, his main editor (Spielberg is said to be an uncredited editor on the film). Unlike Poltergeist, I believe that the credited director, Richard Donner, directed the majority of the first unit.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:26 a.m. CST

    I was sober for this one...

    by ImYerHuckleberry

    I see lots of movies late on a friday when Ive had a few. Booze makes me more critical by far. I saw this one as a matinee with my daughter at noon. Halfway through I had to think back... did I drink something? Why am I disengaged here? I just didnt get the magic. Whatever the hype says this is NO amblin film. Its a fun 2 hours but the magic is not there. I guess it lies in the premise. It should have been a balls out alien/predator or a cuddly ET. Instead its a creepy monster that turns out to be a cool dude in the end. Fuck that. You cant have your cake and eat it too JJ. PS Stuff your smoke monster up your ass.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:44 a.m. CST

    just got back

    by drave117

    You all are freaks. Super 8 was amazing. Best thing I've seen this year. Maybe I am just the right age for this (33), but this movie truly made me feel like a kid again, and it gave me EXACTLY the same sort of joy I felt when I watched ET and Goonies for the first time. Abrams does Spielberg better than Spielberg has in fifteen or twenty years.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:50 a.m. CST

    It was pretty weak.

    by PorkChopXpress

    The kids were great, but the movie just felt way too familiar and it left no lasting impression. It was entertaining enough and had some great set-pieces, but it was just left me a little flat.

  • June 11, 2011, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Member's Only didn't start making jackets until 1981

    by MediaGold

    and no way in all Hell would a kid in 1979 suburban Ohio know WTF a Rubik's Cube is. And I think one of the songs used was made after 1979 but I'm not totally sure. All these little niggles aside, this flick didn't have that old time magic that I knew so well. Not even close, pale frigging imitation. Last time Abrams gets my money. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me five times, I'm a fucking moron. Shove your flares where they won't shine, Hackboy!

  • FRIDAY 11:00 PM UPDATE: It's encouraging to see an original movie overperforming at the North American box office as well as receiving an overall 'B+' CinemaScore. Especially after Hollywood has spent the past month relentlessly beating up on what it's been deriding as a throwback in which ET meets Close Encounters meets Jurassic Park. That grade breaks down as follows: 29% of the audience under age 25 gave it 'A-', 71% over 25 'B', 56% of males 'B+', and 44% of females 'B+'. Moviegoers spent $12 million Friday on the the Bad Robot/Amblin/Paramount movie Super 8 from JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg for what should be $35M from 3,379 locations. "Sweeeeeeet," a Paramount exec emailed me tonight.

  • June 11, 2011, 7:20 a.m. CST

    If it was set in the present it would be called

    by Verminous

    Mino HD Flip.

  • June 11, 2011, 7:50 a.m. CST

    At the end of the day...

    by wacko3205

    The movie's great...sure there are a few flaws...but nothing that breaks the film. The cast makes the film & the effects are fantastic.

  • It's all about the cast and the nostalgia factor and the SFX. Nice. How about the bloody story? Could it had been told with another style of filmmaking, with another cast and still work?

  • June 11, 2011, 9:24 a.m. CST

    Now, now, genderblender ...


    ... I know math isn't too important to a subject to graduate cultural studies majors, but a $35 million opening weekend on a $50 million budget means only good things for the movie. And while geeks seem to be lukewarm to mildly positive, it seems to be catching on with general audiences, as the Cinemascore suggests.

  • June 11, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST

    The kids have no bearing on the outcome of the movie.

    by Batutta

    It would have ended the same exact way if they never got involved. It's a shame because JJ set up lots of opportunities for the kids to be more involved (the first encounter, the alien cubes) but he squandered them. As is, the story happens around them, not to them, which is weak scriptwriting. It's only watchable as an exercise in nostalgia, and for some cheap b movie monster thrills. The kids are very good too.

  • June 11, 2011, 10:41 a.m. CST

    Maybe the kid did make a difference

    by insightman

    His heartfelt plea to the violated alien might have convinced the alien not to drop the planetbuster bomb constructed from 3 or 4 of those mega-powerful alienlego cubes. But, of course, maybe his plea saved only 3 lives, but he did make a difference.

  • June 11, 2011, 11:13 a.m. CST

    What was missing

    by NinjaDeathPoet

    In my opinion: Some real articulated interaction with the thing, rather than guessery. Would have drove the closing scene to that much greater of heights.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:05 p.m. CST

    You're right on the money ...

    by LivesWithinLaws

    It did NOT need to be set in the 70's. That is unless it was supposed to tie into Roswell mythology. I don't remember as I had pretty much checked out by the time the laboratory movies were so conveniently acquired by the kids.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:54 p.m. CST

    batutta- (Spoiler)

    by krabklaw

    Remember- It was the kid Joe who convinces the alien to give up and his vendetta and just go home. I'd say the kids were extremely involved in the story's outcome. The theme of letting go of the past is paralleled by Joe's father's arc as he acknowledges his wife's death was an accident instead of trying to place blame. It is paralleled again when Joe literally lets go of the past by releasing his mom's necklace.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:04 p.m. CST

    Best Picture nominee

    by shutupfanboy

    In a summer flooded with superheroes, wizards and robots, we get a film that has one of the best action scenes in the last few years. We also get a very good acting performances out of children of all people and no names at that. Also, the script is great. Fuck the haters, this is my favorite picture this year and my early pick for Best Picture.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:49 p.m. CST

    Loved it, But... (spoilers)

    by Bald Evil

    A couple things really took me out of the movie. First, I don't care how black or how awesome you are, you don't survive a head-on collision with a locomotive. Second, while the climactic scene with the locket was very touching and symbolic, there is a major problem: silver is diamagnetic, and not only would not be attracted by a massive electromagnet, it would be repelled. This assumes that Joe's dad was not an incalculable cheapskate who bought his wife a steel locket and necklace to commemorate their son's birth. Possible, but more likely it was silver, in which case... that locket wouldn't have gone anywhere. Third, the creature looked WAY too much like the Cloverfield creature. I was encouraged at first by its apparently arachnid body design, but by the end of the movie it seemed awfully derivative of Page's previous work. I also wasn't a big fan of its humanlike facial structure. Nerdy griping aside, I did really like the movie. I greatly enjoyed the performances of all the kids (really, the whole cast), and I enjoyed the nostalgia of that time that seems so long ago. Now I'm gonna go try to find some Food Sticks.

  • June 11, 2011, 2:52 p.m. CST


    by Batutta

    The alien was two seconds away from leaving anyway. The kid saved his own life and that of his friends and that was it. The train still would have crashed, the alien still would have gotten his cubes, and the alien would have gone home if the kids were never involved. One tiny gesture at the very end of the film is lousy storytelling. More could have easily been done with the kid's possession of an alien cube and Joe figuring out the alien needs it to get home. As is, it just sat on his desk for an hour, and when Joe finally noticed it, it flew out the window.

  • June 11, 2011, 4:56 p.m. CST

    TOTALLY unrealistic!!

    by Horgy

    There's no way a kid who builds models can get a girl....

  • June 11, 2011, 5:39 p.m. CST

    Can we stop calling this Spielbergian...

    by Fortunesfool

    It's fuck all like a Spielberg film. Spielberg movies are imaginative, engrossing and beautifully crafted works of the imagination. This isn't ET, it's 'Ghoulies', or, at best, 'Critters'. Also, why was Joe Dante not heralded as a genius for making a fantastic 80's -esque kids in peril movie last year with 'The Hole'? I guess he didn't whore himself around all the geek websites, telling them what a awesome cool geek he was.

  • June 11, 2011, 7:41 p.m. CST

    Watched the last half hour --

    by MooseMalloy

    -- CRAP.

  • June 11, 2011, 9:29 p.m. CST

    Had its ups and downs (Spoilers)

    by Norton833

    Spoilers herein: Really liked this film until maybe the last 20 minutes or so. It definitely had the feel of early-80's Amblin films. The characters were all well-drawn, and their stories compelling. As an action movie, it was a raging success. The lack of CGI overload was refreshing. The retro thing was fun, though it had a few anachronisms (the Walkman, for example, wasn't marketed until 1982 or so). Once the monster, and his motives, were revealed, it began to fall apart. I failed to feel a mote of sympathy for the raging, man-eating monkey-frog-monster. And complaints that the creature, a supposedly advanced being from an advanced civilization, stomps around breaking shit like a mad bull elephant are entirely valid. The climactic event, which would have worked had it been played as horror, was played like the final moments of ET for no discernible reason other than as an homage to that film. There also seemed to be a whiff of that tired-assed post-9-11 guilt-tripping crap sort of slipped under the door in the reveal of the military's relationship with the monster. It's been ten freaking years, can we retire that shit already?

  • June 11, 2011, 9:47 p.m. CST


    by johnnyrandom

    ...are really nice.

  • June 11, 2011, 11:52 p.m. CST

    genderblender Super 8

    by blakindigo

    is doing better than projected at the box office. The budget is around $50 million. It is estimated to take in around $80 million domestic.

  • June 11, 2011, 11:57 p.m. CST

    JJ Abrams is a hack

    by chien_sale

    He'll never do a classic in his life. His work has no personality. He ripped off Blair Witch when he did Cloverfield. He ripped off Bourne Identity when he directed Mission Impossible 3. He ripped pretty much everybody on Trek. And now he ripped off Steven Spielberg.

  • June 12, 2011, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Nice to see some hate for Goonies...

    by workshed

    ...a bloody awful film that, also, tried so hard to be an Amblin film, lovingly recreating all Spielberg's trademark touches but with something missing. Oh, that's it... Spielberg! Give me 'Flight of the Navigator' any day.

  • June 12, 2011, 10:43 a.m. CST

    More boyhood nostalgia, camera flares and swimmy CGI? Yuck.

    by Tera Sanders

    Yes, JJ Abrams is terrible. The only thing that could have made this film worse is if it were directed by Tim Burton, Kevin Smith... or the actual Steven Spielberg.

  • (SPOILER ALERT) I actually agree very much with asimovlives on Abrams and that the future of sci-fi in cinema lay with Nolan, Blomkamp, and Duncan Jones, although not quite as vehemently regarding Abrams. I honestly went in expecting to despise this movie based on what I had read and heard. I thought it would be a soulless exercise in, wait for it, nostalgia porn, and that I could feel its manipulative tentacles full of suckers reaching through the screen to fellate our collective nostalgia phallus, but instead was genuinely surprised that it had a beating heart at its core WHERE THE KIDS AND THEIR INTERACTIONS were concerned. Also with regards to the filmmaking itself (shot choices, color palette, production design). As a filmmaker myself, there were times where I went, "Holy shit, Spielberg DOES do that with the camera a lot (or used to)." As a matter of fact, this movie will make you more aware of early Spielberg's style than you ever were, because I have to give him credit at absolutely NAILING the visual aspect, which I didn't think were possible. Afterwards, I had to wonder how much of that came to him naturally and how much of it actually involved storyboarding while watching multiple monitors of similar scenes from Spielberg movies. There are heavy-handed, but FUN, references to Jaws, many, many, many references to Close Encounters and E.T., and even some nods to Jurassic Park, Sugarland Express, The Lost World, Duel, Gremlins... the list goes on and on if you're sensitive enough to it (i.e., have seen those films dozens of times). The kids were fantastic. I thought they'd be bland and lack charisma as one poster stated, but they actually succeeded in making me realize just how underwritten or just plain badly written kids are in today's sci-fi movies and I would include the work of other sci-fi visionaries where I still don't think they're up to par in the character department (Nolan, looking at you). Actually, not just kids, but adults as well. I think Abrams did an amazing job of bringing these kids to life and making them believable in their hopes and aspirations as well as their quiet struggles. It also made me wonder if kids at that age really have become rotten little fuckers because of such extreme exposure at an early age to too much bullshit via the internet (like... go the fuck outside and build a fort or something with your friends and STAY OFF FACEBOOK), or whether we really are looking into the past with rose-tinted glasses... maybe a little bit of both. But honestly, either I'm a sucker and I'm just not seeing it or they were brilliant, because I haven't seen believable kids like that in a movie in a loooong-ass time. The talking-over-each-other aspect can feel forced at times because the dialogue in the background calls attention to itself rather than being unimportant and flippant, but more often than not it works and rather than shit all over Abrams for using this 'technique', I wish more of today's filmmakers would tell the audio guys to fuck the hell off and embrace it because the reason Spielberg did it had to do with creating a REALITY. It feels more real and increases the verisimilitude of their relationships to one another, because THAT'S HOW KIDS ACTUALLY TALK. It requires a bit of extra work, sure, because you have to now think about background dialogue, but when it's done correctly, its just plain awesome to watch. Ok, THE PROBLEMS WITH THE MOVIE - #1, right off the bat, the most glaring error to me was the relationship between the two fathers. Their reconciliation at the end felt like a typical Abrams cop-out at actually fleshing out the story and rushing into production with a half-cocked script because, "Hey, they only care what's in the box." Dickhead (sorry, but this error was so glaring, he deserves it), you don't even believe your own bullshit about the magic box, obviously, because you worked SO hard on creating the reality of these kids and their relationships that I could FEEL you going through the original script marking where to plug in obligatory monster scenes and glossing over shit that you KNEW needed another few rewrites to fully assimilate the two films, believing that the audience doesn't really care about endings and that it's impossible for it to be satisfying when applying your magic box theory. FUCKING BULL-TO-THE-SHIT - I've said it before here and I'll say it again - JAWS - satisfying ending based on CHARACTER ARCS AS WELL AS THE FACT THAT THE FUCKING FISH GETS BLOWN UP. RAIDERS (a SPIELBERG film with a LITERAL FUCKING MAGIC BOX) - THE POWER OF THE ARK IS REVEALED AND THE NAZIS PAY FOR THEIR HUBRISTIC LACK OF HUMILITY BEFORE ITS POWERS. FUCK ME, let's go for straight drama - TAXI DRIVER - Travis builds and builds and builds towards SOMETHING ("My whole life has been leading up to this point, etc.), we don't know what, but when it comes, it's a fucking spectacular blood-letting that finally calms him down... until the next probable blood-letting, which adds another suggestive layer at the very end of the film FURTHER SATISFYING THE REQUIREMENTS OF A GOOD ENDING. Anyway, ALL SATISFYING ENDINGS. You could go on forever. Abrams DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO RESOLVE HIS STORIES IN A SATISFACTORY WAY, and this is his number one problem as a filmmaker. Say what you will about Nolan, but that, 'He's the hero Gotham needs', as well as the spinning top and getting off the plane in Inception (hell, look at The Prestige) are ALL extremely satisfying endings. District 9 was building and building and building towards Wicchus helping the alien get home and when it comes, it's emotional and spectacular... because in all of these examples, the seeds for the ending, the anticipation of it and the way the character arcs will be tied up are SPRINKLED THROUGHOUT THE FUCKING MOVIES. It's subtle, but the ending of a film needs to be seeded in nearly every scene of the movie. Abrams, however, goes off in multiple directions for 90 minutes until he seems to look at his watch and go, "Ho-ly shit... we gotta tie this thing up, let's figure out an ending!" The biggest issue with this movie is the last 15 minutes, which are borderline terrible, trite, and glaringly underwritten in comparison with the rest of the film. Scratch that, they COULD have worked, had the rest of the movie tied in properly (in a way I can't even begin to get into because it would probably involved rewriting the entire film)... but the father's reconciliation didn't work at all. All of a sudden, 'IT WAS AN ACCIDENT'. That was the line of dialogue where I went... oh man, that fucking sucks. Then the whole scene with the kids getting cornered in the cave by the alien and it picking up Joel? THAT FELT LIKE A METAPHOR FOR THE WRITER/DIRECTOR GETTING CORNERED BY THE ALIEN (I.E. - MAGIC BOX) AND HAVING NO CLUE WHERE THE FUCK TO GO. "Go home!" Ok... go home. Got it. I probably sound like I'm all over the map, but I KNOW that shit between the fathers needed another story beat (which would have probably sacrificed some earlier stuff like, oh, I don't know, cutting 2 minutes out of the fucking endless and unbelievable that they'd be unscathed train crash? or the E.T. mimicing bike riding shots?). The alien is probably the least developed thing in the whole film, though, and because of those two things, the ending rings as hollow and totally unsatisfying. Which is a shame when the rest of the movie was SO fucking well done, imho. But I can still enjoy the rest of it because I had so much fun watching those kids interact as well as the environment, which the production designer nailed. One last thing with which I'd have to agree with Asi and I've already mentioned it - the train crash is bullshit. I think its spectacularly staged, is a sonic skull-fuck, and would have been fine for the kids to watch - FROM A DISTANCE. Like say, THE TRAIN PLATFORM, which could remained intact while they looked on in horror. But the way their dodging exploding cars and torn in half doors felt REALLY Michael Bayish and 'modern' versus the rest of the film. It also felt TOTALLY FUCKING FAKE, and it did a disservice to the story up to that point. There was a way to viscerally involve the kids in that crash without it resorting to modern bullshit movie physics and skin-of-their-teeth nonsense, but Abrams went fully in the opposite direction of the correct way and if he gets shit for it, it is WELL DESERVED. Stuff like that proves he is probably the most insecure, looking-for-validation filmmaker working on big budget high profile films working today. But like I said... the kids and the way their written is great.

  • It's pure laziness on Abrams part. What he's saying, essentially, is that endings don't matter and can never be satisfying if you apply his mystery box theory, so why bother? At least that's what I take from it.

  • June 12, 2011, 3:11 p.m. CST

    Super 8 only made $38 million this weekend

    by Titus05

    not a very good opening

  • June 12, 2011, 8:12 p.m. CST

    Super 8 only made $38 million this weekend

    by Dreamwriter

    It's still the weekend...there are 5 showings left in just one of the theaters near me, including two in Imax.

  • June 12, 2011, 8:15 p.m. CST

    RE: Set in the 70s

    by Dreamwriter

    This movie wouldn't work in the modern era at all. There would be no film to watch later, you could watch it instantly. The camera would be easier to keep and not drop. The characters would need a reason not to post the video on the internet, and there's no way the military could evacuate a town without it getting all over the internet and then the news. It would have to be an entirely different movie if it wasn't set in the 70's.

  • June 13, 2011, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Random impressions - I liked it quite a bit, but loved??

    by openthepodbaydoorshal

    First off, the initial scene with the change of the accident board at the mill. Has Abrams not seen the past 20 + years of the Simpsons opening? Yes, its a subtle way of introducing the concept of the mother/wife that died at work, and the revelation that follows, but I couldn't help but think of anything but Lenny and Carl at Springfield Nuclear. The actors, both adults and kids, all shine. Elle Fanning has a bright future ahead, perhaps even brighter than her famous older sister. Joel Courtney has a natural ability, and excels in the main role. And the kids acted well in tandem, also, sounding like kids and not scripted dialogue. The tiny nostalgic details were perfect. The Creepy magazine cover on the wall (I read both Creepy and Eerie magazines), Super 8 Filmmaker magazine (ditto, had completely forgot about that publication), Pilsbury meal sticks (the chocolate and peanut butter tasting nothing like real natural flavors, but they were cool), the fashions and hair styles were perfect, but not going over to "That '70s Show" territory. Whereas Spielberg was able to blend his story of his abandoned ET and the lonely middle child of divorced parents, Abrams kind of clunkily inserts his escaped alien story inside his moviemaking kids with parent issues story. How does the lead kid "get" to the alien to understand him? Cuz the script says so.. And a lot of scenes remind me of the recent interview on DePalma's Blow Out, where DePalma bemoans the work of directors that come from television, relying on close-ups, close-ups, close-ups of talking heads. And there are a lot of scenes of faces filling most of the frame. Maybe that came to me because that interview is so fresh in my mind. Michael Giacchino's score evocs the Williams and Goldsmiths scores of the '70s without actually aping them. In fact his score was effective, but not memorable, at least not to me. The effects are what you'd expect nowadays, when even low budget films (Moon, Monsters, District 9) impress. So even though Abrams tried to shoehorn emotion and spectacle into the same mix, the results are uneven, although the film is entertaining and the young cast is very, VERY good (c'mon young actors don't direct themselves, sp. since Courtney had no acting experience).

  • June 13, 2011, 4:37 p.m. CST

    another thing about the 2000's

    by Homer Sexual

    Spielberg says in this weeks Entertainment Weekly that he wouldn't make Close Encounters today because he has seven kids and could never portray a father who is willing to desert his kids. This is exactly why Spielberg used to be good and now his movies suck. Many movies today are just so "politically correct" and soft, compared to the 70's or even the 80's, that I often find myself thinking "this could never be done today." While I agree with many of the anti-millenium posts, I especially agree that the casting of generic hotties and emphasis on CGI is the bane of modern film. That interview actually made me no longer interested in seeing Super 8, it just seems like it's got all the corn and none of the edge of early Spielbergo.

  • June 14, 2011, 11:23 p.m. CST

    SUPER 8 is a major disappointment that ends with a Deus Ex Machina

    by Curious_Jorge

    Seriously, this movie was half-baked. Is the alien a hulking brute who destroys everything in his path, or is he a cat burglar who stealthily steals car engines and microwave ovens without any trace of his presence? And giving the alien big, brown puppy dog eyes? Umm, really? The best part about the movie was the zombie movie during the final credits, but it was hardly worth sitting through this mess. HIGHLY RECOMMEND -- THAT YOU SKIP.