Overlooking at Super 8

It’s been a week or so since I saw Super 8 in the theatre, and it’s given me a chance to really think about my feelings about it. I’d love to see it again to be sure, but living in nowheresville, Canada makes that premise a little bit more difficult. Driving an hour to see a film usually means I’m watching something new, but I digress.

Basically, I loved Super 8. I absolutely loved it. The kids were pitch perfect, the story was well paced and the action was consistently entertaining. The way JJ Abrams conveyed a complete love and reverence towards both the craft and medium of film was brilliant. Coming out of the theatre, I couldn’t see how I could possibly like any movie this year more than this one.

What I’ve realized since is that I may have turned a blind eye towards some of the major flaws of the film. I’ll try to be vague, but spoilers for Super 8 follow.

My primary problem came with the end of the film. I really felt like the characters had no real impact on the final act. On one hand, the kids have a direct impact within their own storyline (even when it crosses over with that of the alien), but ultimately fail to contribute in any way to the driving plotline of the entire film. While the discovery, and eventual liberation, of the alien/monster may only be a MacGuffin upon which the actual story is built, the way in which the alien storyline is resolved still felt forced.

Similarly, the resolutions of some of the relationships seemed forced. While the way in which they were portrayed (especially between the father and son) was still believable (and still managed to pull an emotional response out of me. That final, unabashedly Spielbergian, shot, looking into space, was pure magic), there was really no moment to me that the father really “got it” in regards to who his son really was. I guess I can believe that their relationship was strengthened due to the events of the film, and I can understand the desperation and unconditional love going into finding them at the end, it still seemed like nothing was really changed. The relationship between the two father characters seemed rushed, as well. Once again, I can buy the whole “shared experience” angle, but how Joe’s father can make a complete 180 that way seemed dubious, at best.

Despite this, and a few other small gripes (the way characters would be alluded to and introduced, seemingly only to be cannon fodder to create a false sense of danger towards the main characters, for example), none of these problems came up while I was watching the film. The things I absolutely loved (the relationships between the kids, the filmmaking aspect, the mystery, etc.) completely outnumber the minor issues (that are mostly nestled within things I loved).

I guess this sort of turned into a review, so I’ll end by saying that Super 8 is absolutely worth watching, watching again, buying, and watching again. It may end up being my favourite film of the year (though I haven’t seen Attack the Block yet). It does some things wrong, but it’s all wrapped within such a great package that it’s incredibly easy to overlook them. The scene near the end (to avoid spoilers as much as possible) when the kids are running through the town is enough, by itself, to recommend this movie.

I don’t want this to seem like a middling review, either. My intent is to demonstrate that a) Super 8 is not a perfect movie, but that b) the flaws don’t even begin to make me love it any less. I’m glad I waited to post this, because it let me get some sort of a perspective on my feelings, but I don’t think my enthusiasm has been tempered at all. If anything, I want to rewatch it even more. Please, drive-in, bring this to Perth soon.

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