KTKA Review: Super 8

by Eric Melin on June 10, 2011

in Video Reviews

This review of “Super 8″ appears on KTKA-49.

J.J. Abrams channels his inner Spielberg, with help from the blockbuster maestro of the 80s who served as producer, on “Super 8,” a refreshing change of pace for summer flicks.

It’s just too bad that Abrams has made such a big deal about not letting any secrets out about the supernatural element of “Super 8.”

The bottom line is: That element of the story is just not that special.

What is special about “Super 8″ is almost everything else. The terrific chemistry between the kid actors, their naturalistic dialogue, the sure pacing, the surprising amount of character development, the suspense, the mystery, the alienation, the dread, the small-town 1979 setting, the details about being a kid and wanting to make movie magic: It all feels personal, like it came straight from Abrams’ heart.

It all builds up to a climax that promises something big and delivers something pretty ordinary. “Super 8″ is full of things to love, but rarely has a film that had so much going for it been this deeply affected by a disappointing last reel.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zack June 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

What last reel would have met your expectations of the climax you say never happened?

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2 Eric Melin June 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Zack- Great question. It’s really hard to do this without spoilers, but here goes:

The main problem is that the expert buildup (“Jaws”-style, showing little bits at a time) of what the monster was and what it was doing in the town didn’t amount to anything more in the end than a knockoff of “E.T.,” except with a faceless, personality-less CGI creature.

I looked past the scene in the AV club of the high school where the entire motivation and background of the monster was revealed in one clumsy swoop because I was still hoping for a unique payoff. When the climax finally happened (the monster and the kid), it was nothing more than a retread of the same moment we saw on the old film in the AV club. It added nothing to the story, except the kid got to mindmeld (and quote his favorite REM song) dropping this piece of wisdom: Everybody hurts.

It was a huge letdown and a betrayal of the monster in every respect other than that one dumb film from the past, which was corny to begin with. Abrams had mixed horror, sci-fi, and the coming of age story well up to that point, and was able to navigate the different tonal changes well up to that point, but the ending made me go back and think of that scene and a couple more that showed cracks beneath the surface.

I haven’t been so disappointed in a recent movie in a long time. Maybe if the kid had had this psychic connection or something leading up to that climax, it would have been more believable. As it was, I get that he had faced his fears about his mother’s death and was about to be accepted by his father in a similar fashion in the scene that followed, but I didn’t think the climax worked for the monster at all and it was too convenient and out of character for the kid at that moment.

Then, when its all said and done, the scene by the tower was rushed and awkward and contained none of the awe that we were meant to experience at that time.

Sorry this is so long-winded, but the TV format doesn’t give me the opportunity to expand on things. Thanks for forcing me to do that here.

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3 spike June 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Eric,

You really nailed it. There was a lot to love about this movie, but the last 20 minutes sort of unwound a lot of what had been building for the first 90 minutes, and not in a good way.

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4 Eric Melin June 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

Thanks for reading my comment, which was actually longer then the review. Fitting all your thoughts into a focused minute and a half commentary for tv is always a challenge…

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5 Zack June 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Thanks Eric, I appreciate you taking the time to elaborate!

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