Thursday, June 23, 2011

SUPER 8: A review by Thor *SPOILERS*

Since Thor's last review was so popular, I've decided that I'm going to let him do the movie reviews from now on. So, here he is with his review of Super 8!


Let me just start by saying how flattered I am at being asked to do another movie review. I'm literally purring with excitement! As a cat, I take praise frequently, usually for stuff I have no control over like how fuzzy I am or how cute I look when I curl up in a weird position on the couch. But this is different, and thank you.
Anyhoo...Super 8 was the movie my mom and dad took me to this time. I kind of wanted to see the X-Men movie but dad said I was a cat and therefore I didn't get to pick the movies because I don't have thumbs or any money. Still, I saw a Super 8 preview at the beginning of THOR so I was pretty excited about this movie because I had no idea what it was about. The ads and trailers were really could have been anything, from a giant mutant like in Cloverfield or an alien like in Alien. Or it might have been nothing. Who knows? Well, I know...because I saw the movie. At least, I saw most of it...I fell asleep for a while. Not kidding...actually nodded off in the theater. 

So, first of all let's get this out of the way: the movie's plot and story are nothing special. In fact, I would go so far as to say its a hackneyed, overused formula that died in the late 80s. I guess the director was figuring to revitalize the "Oh shit, something's loose in our town and only the kids can stop it!" genre. Sometimes, they don't make them like they used to because the way they used to make them sucked. The movie is set in the late 70s-early 80s, for no other reason (I could tell) than because in that era, the movie's premise might have been fresh. As it is, we don't get any real historical relevance as to why the film is set in the time it is, other than when someone at a town hall meeting blames the whole thing on a Soviet invasion. Still, that wasn't crucial to the plot: they could have replaced Soviet with Terrorist and it wouldn't have made a difference. But whatever, that was when the movie was set and so that was what we got.

The film is watchable, but not great. It's carried entirely by the charisma of the child actors in the film. The title of the film as well as the font and presentation, make you think the movie is set in or near a roadside, a Super-8. That isn't it: the protagonists make their own movies using 8mm film. That was never really explained in the movie very well--unless I fell asleep at that part, which is possible--and I only know because I heard dad explaining it to mom on their way out of the theater. The Super 8 film they use catches an image of the creature during a trail crash. The creature and a bunch of stuff belonging to it are being transported by the Air Force via freight train and---

Wait, that just hit me...the United States Air Force is transporting something important...BY TRAIN? Why would they do that? Why wouldn't they put it on one of their big planes and fly it across the country? They are the AIR FORCE. I'm sure the Air Force transports things by train sometimes, but something as important as a big, alien monster, wouldn't they fly it across the country instead of railroad it? But of course, they couldn't do that because then the guy trying to save the monster wouldn't be able to derail the train and knock it off its tracks by running his truck into it. Yes, that happens. And bear in mind that the guy who does this KNOWS that the Air Force is going to transport this thing this way. And, it is revealed by the Air Force Colonel that he knew how this guy--a former Air Force scientist--felt about what they were doing, AND that the train would be passing through his town. And I know I'm just a cat, not a train scientist but can a head on collision with a pickup really derail a freight train? I mean, that is an expression, right? As unstoppable as a runaway freight train? And this guy is a scientist...more than that, he's a military trained scientist. Wouldn't he have thought blowing up the track would be more effective?

Eh...I can't really give many more plot holes away without ruining the story. So you've been warned. The monster is an alien, and he's mad about the way the government has treated him. But he also conveniently can communicate through touch, and the reason this scientist knows that it just wants to go home and hates humans is because it touches him. He even says in a recorded journal the kids get ahold of that he knows that the alien hates all humans now and just wants to kill them all because he's been tortured and studied since his crash. So, what does the scientist do? He orchestrates a train wreck that frees the monster and results in like fifty people (including innocent civilians in his own fucking town) killed by the monster. I am guessing he assumes that the moment the alien is free, he'll build a spaceship and go opposed to any of the other things that he could follows:
  1.  Kill every human he sees for a while.
  2. Kill every human he sees for a while and then build a spaceship and fly home.
  3. Kill every human he sees for a really long time, then build a spaceship and fly home.
  4. Kill every human he sees for a while or a really long time, build a spaceship and fly home and invite his buddies to return and repeat one of the above options.
  5. Kill no humans then build a spaceship and fly home.
  6. Stay on Earth and keep killing humans because apparently you're impervious to their weapons.
The scientist was either hoping the alien would pick option 5 (would you?) instead of all the other things that any reasonable person would assume the alien would do--OR he knew it would choose one of the many other killfull options because humanity deserves it for being a jerk to it but he wouldn't be around to see it because he'd be dead from the crash so he didn't care. Of course, this doesn't take into account the lives lost when the train was wrecked, including the conductor and anyone unfortunate enough to be near the wreck. Even the kids, who happen to be making a zombie movie at the time, all almost died.

One other thing that gets stuck in my whiskers...and I know it's a little thing but I'm a cat and I like little things. This is more of a writing error than anything else. Apparently, the scientist who wrecks the train is also a school-teacher. A couple of the kids have had him in class. One of them says that the teacher likes to put things he confiscates from the student in his "dungeon." Which, I assumed meant a basement or cellar under the school. Turns out it's a third-wheel trailer out behind the school. The kids call it the dungeon, because probably when they wrote the script they planned for it to be a basement or cellar, but instead it was easier to shoot the scene in a parking lot and make the dungeon a locked trailer. More than likely, they just didn't change the script after making the change. Anyway, the kids figure out that this must be where the scientist hid all his records and notes about the alien: in a 3rd wheel trailer behind a public school building. Not in his house. Not in his safe. Not even in a bank vault...and the Air Force colonel is unable to figure this out on his own when he asks the mortally wounded scientist about it...or when he ransacks his house and office at school. At no point did any of them decide to look in the trailer he owned, the one he kept so insecurely locked that a child with a crowbar was able to pry is open. And, upon opening it, they find piles of 8mm film and audio tapes of the scientists research...yet manage to play the most crucial pieces of evidence needed immediately upon returning to a film projector and tape player...

Okay, I'm getting really tense. Hold on why I give myself a bath.

Back. That's better. Now, where were we?

Oh yes, this movie was boring. Like I said I fell asleep because NOTHING HAPPENED for SO LONG. And ultimately it becomes a reconnection story between a father and a son, and then also a father and his daughter. Also there is some romance or something. And the girls dad is inadvertently responsible for the first dad being a widower so there is all that to work through...which they don't, until near the end...for like five seconds. But as I said before, the antics of the kids are really the only thing that keeps you watching the movie. The creature isn't on film enough to dazzle us with the special effects. It's supposed to be this big revelation near the end of the movie that the monster isn't just some wild beast, he actually has feelings and sympathy...but we figure that out on our own way early in the film with a bunch of car engines and household appliances go missing. It's pretty obvious that the monster is building something, and not just roaming around like a wolf looking for kids to munch on.

Speaking of kids, the film the kids are making throughout this movie on 8mm film is played during the ending credits. It's supposed to be campy and stupid, but it's actually far more entertaining that the actual movie. In fact, if this movie had just been about a bunch of misfit kids in bell bottoms making a zombie flick in some coming-of-age light comedy, the movie would have been a lot better. They could have even had the train wreck in there as some kind of binding event. But no, we have to go mess this up with a pedantic alien vs. the military story.

All said, I'm just glad they didn't make this movie in 3D. My dad would have been SO pissed if he had to pay 4 bucks extra for the glasses just to see this dreg of a film in 3D. You should have heard him bitch after he got out of Tron! He almost punched a ticket guy on his way out of the theater.

Well, I've rambled enough. Time to give my paws a rest and go take a three minute nap. I give this movie three paws out of five, because it at least had something in it to keep me entertained. But it wasn't enough to keep this borning, out-dated film from passing out in my mom's lap.