Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on June 10, 2011
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Written by J.J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Riley Griffiths, Ron Eldard, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Noel Emmerich, Bruce Greenwood, Zach Mills, Amanda Michalka, Jessica Tuck, Joel McKinnon Miller, Dan Castellaneta
Writer and director J.J. Abrams’ attempt at some sort of home-spun Spielbergian sci-fi fantasy hit quite a few right notes, and had me hooked through most of its short 112-minute run time…but afterwards, I called to mind so many pros and cons related to the film and its story, I made myself dizzy and frustrated trying to make sense of them all.
This tale of high school friends filming a Super 8 zombie movie in and around their peaceful Ohio town, who accidentally capture on film a terrifying train crash and the escape of an alien creature, was ripe with great ideas, believable teen characters, an excellent reproduction of 1979, and a sense of wonderment that reminded me of the tone, look, and feel of both E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
What it didn’t have, however, was the resonance and staying power that those two films possessed, and a plot that stayed within the confines of its main focus (the kids and their film project) and the escaped alien (who we didn’t get to see enough of). However, in my opinion the big killing point was the ending; after playing hide-and-seek with this monster for almost the entire film, we were slapped with a meager, sudden wrap-up that unfolded far too quickly, and left us wondering what the hell happened to the remaining half hour.
Which, if it had existed, would’ve delved deeper into the alien’s backstory and purpose and escape, its involvement with the kids, and the reasoning why the Super 8 film reel in question was so important to the outcome anyway. If Abrams had stuck to the teens’ story and the quaint romance between the two young leads, and delivered an ending worthy of the buildup that preceded it, and had nixed the adult storyline and forced conflict that went with it, I might’ve rewarded this with a higher rating.
Instead, I’m labeling it a nice try of a nice film, with bonus nods for including an ELO song on the soundtrack, for showing the kids’ zombie film in its entirety over the end credits, and for reminding me of the time when my brother and I made our own futuristic Super 8 film, called 3039, in the back country of our small-town neighborhood in California. (6/10)