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Super 8

by

Jeff Nelson

Super 8 is a fun summer blockbuster that's worth seeing, but don't set your expectations too high.

Super 8
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Each time that summer approaches, moviegoers expect to see a large number of big summer blockbusters hitting theaters. For Summer 2011, they seem to primarily consist of superhero flicks and portions of franchises. The intensely anticipated Super 8 is neither a superhero film nor part of a franchise. Writer/director J.J. Abrams' film is produced by the highly successful Steven Spielberg. By the trailers, many audiences are comparing Super 8 to past films of Spielberg and Abrams. I would certainly say that this is where J.J. Abram's Cloverfield and Steven Spielberg's E.T. meet. Does it stand up to the classics such as E.T.?

A group of friends witness a disastrous train crash while making a movie and quickly suspect that it wasn't an accident. Unexplainable events begin to take place around town and the truth is something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. The plot isn't anything that moviegoers haven't heard of before. J.J. Abrams definitely did a good job with the screenplay. The dialogue works in both the action and the emotional scenes. There is some comic relief spread throughout the action scenes that fit without feeling forced. The first portion of the film is certainly the strongest. The action scenes are epic. The ending is lacking quite a bit. It steals too much from other films we've seen before that it feels tired. The kid characters are reminiscent of those from The Goonies. The plot may not be fully original, but it keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.

All of the events taking place are occurring around a group of kids. Not many of these kids have been in much else in the industry. However, they easily outperform the adult cast. Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, and Elle Fanning give good performances. This entire young cast is sure to have a bright career in the film industry if they continue on this path. While the younger stars gave stronger performances than the adults, this doesn't mean that the older cast members didn't do well. Fortunately, the entire cast delivers dialogue well.

From the very first teaser trailer, the film was bound to have a large number of action sequences. The train crash early in the movie is sure to be the most intense of them all. Those expecting to see the monster for most of the running time will be disappointed. The monster is shown around as much as the creature in Cloverfield was. I find this to be a wise path for a filmmaker to take. It keeps the viewers in suspense of what the monster looks like. No FX can create a monster as incredible as one made inside of a viewer's mind. J.J. Abrams does well with the camera angles. There's definitely a Steven Spielberg influence on the visuals throughout.

From the moment the first teaser trailer was released, I was on board for Super 8. The first part of the film is great, but I feel that especially the third act could have been much better. The screenplay is decent and I'm pleased with the performances. I expected greatness from Super 8 after the large amount of buzz surrounded the film and massive amount of early positive reviews. This is an enjoyable film, but don't expect the masterpiece that some have claimed it to be. Super 8 is a fun summer blockbuster that's worth seeing, but don't set your expectations too high.

My Rating = Three and One Half Stars

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