Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Super 8

Recently finished watching Super 8 on Netflix. It was pretty impressive in many ways and disappointing in very few. The film was written and directed by the accomplished J. J. Abrams who has been on a serious hot streak the last few years. The main and most important producer of the film was none other than the insanely awesome Steven Spielberg. Even if you aren't a fan of movies and film you should know who Steven is.

Short synopsis spoiler:
Super 8, set in 1979, is about a group of kids trying to make a horror film and they unfortunately witness the wrecking of a military train by one of their teachers. In the rush to avoid being killed they leave the camera running and record some interesting footage of the crash. Long story short, the teacher was once a military scientist on a team studying a crashed alien. He and the alien came to an understanding and the scientist tried to get the alien freed. The military dick in charge naturally decided to keep the alien a captive and torture it. The teacher crashed the train transporting the alien so it could be like E.T. and go home. The crash happens near a small town, where the aforementioned kids are from, and of course the alien holes up there to rebuild its ship and so the military, specifically the Air Force playing villain this time, evacuate the town by any means necessary. Naturally, one of the kids gets taken by the alien and the rest of her friends ignore the military evacuation and go back to town to save her.  Which of course they do and also help convince the alien to go home. Which was easy to do 'cause the alien had already gotten its revenge on the military dick in charge.

The child actors they used were very good. Particularly Elle Fanning. Wow. This young lady can ACT! I believe this is the only film I've seen her in but I look forward to seeing her more in film. Her older sister, Dakota, is more well known but Elle is a better actor. Glynn Turman did an excellent job as the ex-military scientist that frees the alien. The special effects were top notch of course.

Now on to a little story diving. I know the setting is 1979 but when electronic and mechanical things start disappearing around the town, because the alien is rebuilding his ship you know, and the townspeople have a town meeting and all agree the Soviets are preparing to attack, I was cracking up. That shit was hilarious! White people were really shook over the propaganda of a Soviet invasion back then. (I know 'cause I remember having to do bomb drills in elementary school. Yes, I said bomb drills. Just like a fire drill, except, you know, you might get buried in rubble or blown up instead of burned up. Yeah, I go back that far. I'm not old either.) The kids were all pretty believable as friends. There wasn't as tight a bond as the kids in Stand By Me, but it was still done well.  The handling of the connection and growing relationship between Elle's character, Alice, and Joel Courtney's character, Joe, was done very well.  When Joe found out that Alice had been taken and he decided to go find her, I believed it.

I found it immensely satisfying to see a few Black faces considering the setting, time and location wise. I found it a bit disappointing that Mr. Turman's character had to be a super-duper magical negro. (Click the link and read the essay if you don't understand the term. Also, I have since had a different thought process regarding this, however,  the disappointment still remains. I will expound on it another time.) And using  another Black actor in the film, Richard T. Jones, to kill the scientist was just another twist of the knife. The fact that he was the right hand man of the military dick in charge was no real problem for me but it was just a bit much to have him do the killing in my view.

All in all a pretty good earth set sci-fi movie. You can obviously see the influence of Steven's original E.T., which is what J. J. was going for, yet he still made it his own. I enjoyed watching it and one day I'll let Talea watch it as well.