Tue 17 Jan 2012
I sat to watch Super 8 with the expectation of seeing the science-fiction / fantasy film of the year. The director is after all J.J. Abrams, the director of the last Star Trek and the producer of my previous favorite science-fiction series Lost and of my current favorite Fringe. No other than Steven Spielberg is the producer and rumors have that he had quite an active part in this production. And yet I was disappointed.
Super 8 has a very spielbergian look, colors and cinematography-like. It is set in 1979, at the same period when Spielberg’s great science-fiction films were made. Kids are in the center of the action, and Spielberg likes and knows to make movies and maybe understands better kids than women for example. The first 15-20 minutes when we get to know the heroes are pure fun, as a gang of kids get together to make a film, kind of an homage to the films noirs of the 40s – all is fine as in a good Spielberg film. But, hey, wait a moment, this is a J.J. Abrams film, isn’t it? And actually trouble starts exactly when the aliens and the rest of the grown-ups world interfere. I mean trouble for the heroes, but also or merely for the film.
Here is the problem of this film as I see it. There are too many Spielberg ideas here, and too little of J.J. Abrams. It looks like the master threw a basket of ideas, many ideas, good ideas, and the apprentice did not really succeed in putting them together in a convincing one story line. There are too many quotes in this film, from Humphrey Bogart passing through the special effects a la 50s and reaching to E.T. Many pieces of magic, a few scenes to remember, but here I am a few weeks after I saw the film and I cannot remember well the story line, which means that it did not really matter. Many people will like the film, and I also liked the passion for cinema and for alien encounters, but the overall impression is of a collection of beautiful scenes wrapped in a conventional and unconvincing story. A miss, maybe a miss to remember, but still a miss.