Friday, November 25, 2011

"Super 8" A Story Like They Used To Make

With “Super 8,” J.J. Abrams appears to have done the film equivalent of make-a-Spielberg paint-by-numbers, but he has done it very well. It may be a somewhat entertaining experience for youngsters, but for those who grew up in the eighties it is a film like they used to make.

Looking back on those eighties childhood adventure films like “Goonies,” “Monster Squad,” or “Stand By Me” one is surprised that we got away with watching them. Kids in eighties films took on real life and death adventure, needed a good mouth washing, and were not supervised at all. The kids in “Super 8” are the same stock only with modern special effects.

In some ways “Super 8” is better than its most obvious inspiration, “E.T.” The story here is pure adventure, and really quite frightening at times—not a sappy sentimental story about an extra terrestrial sweetheart. Of course, the other way Abrams channels Spielberg is by not showing us much of the threat until the end ala “Jaws.” When we do finally see the monster it is not a complete let down either; even if the connection between our hero and the alien is a bit of a stretch.

The real attraction, however, is the story of the kids. We have real characters with real development. We are content to hang out with these kids and see their interactions; all the excitement going on around them is just bonus. That is the way they used to make these stories. That is the way this one most resembles its inspirations.

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