Super 8

As movies go, 2011 is the summer of the aliens. Of the three I’ve seen this month, I think that Super 8 captures a kind of innocent magic that is lacking in Attack the Block or Cowboys and Aliens. Maybe it’s manufactured Spielbergian magic but, somehow, J.J. Abrams never falls completely into the schmaltz that the man he’s paying homage does. (Spielberg produced and Abrams worked with him on earlier films.) I think it’s because Abrams always cuts to the chase, literally, instead of lingering too long on sentiment.

Just as he did with Star Trek, Abrams brings a fresh energy into a pretty well-worn genre. There’s a scene where all the characters pull together to take action and you know that it is the beginning of act 3 and that the ride is going to be fun and fast. Such joy. It’s suspenseful and scary but it isn’t gory or violent. This is not E.T, though. I think it would be most fun to see it with an 8 to 12 year old.

The set design and costumes are also very good. A lot of shows that portray the 70s make it look like a costume drama. Here the 70s looked pretty much real and not like a parody of itself.

But please, J.J. Lose the lens flare. I know it’s your signature thing and all. But it just distracts rather than adds anything to every scene it is in. You overuse it. There was a few times that it was so bad that I thought there was something wrong with the projector.

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