I’m not much on doing movie reviews on my blog, but from time to time I will sneak one in. I like the fact that we have a second wave of masters in the making. I don’t know if I would qualify J.J. Abrahms as a cinematic master as of yet, but he is slowly building his resume and in this day and age at least with some certain names attached you can expect at least a certain level of quality.
I think the modern masters, much in the way of Spielberg, have their blockbuster paycheck projects and then the smaller master projects can be funded. I like that hierarchy. I like that Christopher Nolan can work on his Dark Knight trilogy and yet still do high budget yet thought provoking films like Inception. Granted, Inception isn’t the end all be all, but you get the idea.
I love that Darren Aronofsky can put out Black Swan and make a shit ton of money from an obscure movie about a dancer who goes a little too deep into her role. It was a low budget art film. It just happened to have the right amount of “what the fuck” in it. Aronofsky is on his way to becoming a modern master. With a small handful of mistakes… (The Fountain) his resume is strong.
Danny Boyle is possibly my favorite modern master. Of course, I grew up in the Shallow Grave and Trainspotting era and that’s what I remember. But his recent resume has just been fantastic. I loved Millions. It was so subtle and understated and yet touching. Sunshine was a fantastic sci fi movie. A true science fiction movie. I loved ever moment of it. Even the obscure and weird ending. What really converted me was Slumdog Millionaire. We all saw it. It was amazing. And 127 Hours… It is such a fantastic resume.
There is no doubt that David Fincher is THE modern master right now. His resume is unstoppable and each film, even the duds, like Panic Room are still precision pieces of art and stand so far above all of the other product out there. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m looking forward to Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, not just for the nudity on the poster.
Now, in the case of J.J. Abrahms, he is straight up blockbuster guy. He has yet to do something that completely blows me away, but he is at least making some noise in creating original product… Even when handed a franchise reboot. I am not a fan of the Star Trek series but truly enjoyed the Star Trek reboot as a summer popcorn movie. It was a ride and that’s what I want of my summer movies.
Super 8 is no different.
Super 8 was built as a nostalgic throwback to the early 80s. What I didn’t get from it was the magical and endearing nostalgia that makes us yearn for those movies of days gone by. While watching the movie I enjoyed it. I didn’t have any problems with it. The kids were cool and each character was where they were supposed to be, but to me, they lacked the overall chemistry as the Goonies or the gang in Stand By Me which this film intended to reference so much. There wasn’t that magic in those relationships. The children as actors were fantastic. I particularly enjoyed Joe as an actor. I liked the kid. He was obviously molded after Mikey in the Goonies.
As the film progressed, I had to laugh at myself that J.J. simply remade Cloverfield, only different. Did he not like his early produced film? So much that he had to start form scratch with the same monster in a different town?
The references to Jaws and such were cool I suppose, but didn’t have that gusto that a Kevin Smith Jaws reference would have. I fact most of the movie just sort of borrowed parts from all of those earlier films without really paying tribute to them. Over all to me, the nostalgia fell short.
I did enjoy the movie. I thought it thoroughly did it’s job of keeping me entertained for two hours without wincing at every scene. …until the ending. At a point as we are nearing the climax, the boys run back into town which suddenly has become a war zone. That made absolutely no sense to me and seemed so out of place. So did the evacuation of the town.
What made Goonies and Gremlins and Critters great and memorable kid movies was that despite the evil and goriness of all the killing and death stuff, a kid could still watch them and get excited by them. At some points I view movies now through my nine year old’s eyes. A movie like this should be designed for my kid. He loves making movies. He loves military stuff. As i watched, Super 8 would be too scary for him. I know him. The monster itself is too scary. Gremlins and Critters as monsters were still adorable and lovable, which is what made them so awesome… And made me as a child of that age at that time want to watch those movies over and over again.
I don’t see my son wanting to watch this movie over and over again. And that, is what these nostalgic films are supposed to be about. It’s a good movie. It’s watchable. It is enjoyable. But it’s going to disappear and fade away. It, unfortunately is not going to be the long lost Amblin film.