Film and TV

SUPER 8: J.J. Abrams Takes it Old School

Besides doing fun relationship stuff like arguing about how to discipline their dog, New Times blogger Tyler Hughes and his girlfriend, Jackie Cronin, go to the movies.

Jackie: I very rarely say this about movies but... I really, really liked Super 8. It was a throwback to all of those movies that I loved when I was growing up.

Tyler: It reminded me of films like The Goonies and E.T. Not really a surprise seeing as how cinema god Steven Spielberg produced the J.J. Abrams written and directed film. A serious sci-fi flick with kids as the principal actors. Very Spielbergian.

Jackie:  Following that trend, all of the performances turned in by the kids were all fantastic, especially from Joel Courtney, who plays the film's hero Joe, and Elle Fanning, playing the female lead.

Tyler: All of the kid actors in the movie were quirky and characterized, but totally believable. It was fun watching them make a Super 8 zombie flick, and accidentally capture the train crash. I think it helped too that the film was set in 1979, it helped to give it a sense of nostalgia and place. Everything fit, from the slang to the music, except of course for the monster.

[jump] Jackie:  I though it was great though how this "monster movie" wasn't about the monster at all. In fact, it was much more a story about Joe and his father, Jackson, played by Kyle Chandler. Who, I think, doesn't get enough credit for his work.

Tyler: I thought Chandler was great. He portrayed that struggle between trying to relate to his son and having to protect the town from... whatever it is going on out there. The quiet moments in the film helped to flesh out the characters and make you really care for them. It also helped to create a great sense of suspense as the characters try to figure out what happened with the train.

Jackie: That isn't to say that this was a quiet movie, there was a ton of action. The train crash sequence was awesome, that may have been one of the better crashes of... well anything that I've seen in a film.

Tyler: And there's a whole sequence where they turn a typical 1970's suburb in to a war zone. If I just saw that part of the movie I might think this was the remake of Red Dawn. Wolverines!

Jackie: I thought that the ending was pretty good, though the two parts of the story don't quite match up perfectly. It's kind of hard to talk about without giving up some important details but, Joe's story came full circle and closed out nicely, it just didn't mesh very well with the... other part.

Tyler: That's a good point though. The trailers for the film did a great job of not giving too much away. I hate that when a trailer gives away the whole movie, or all of the good parts. Like the Hangover: Part II's trailer.

Jackie: Oh yeah, I don't know why J.J. Abrams loves lens flares, but seriously... it felt like every other scene had one. At times it worked, but other times I was like, "Get that fricken light out of my face!" But other than that I loved it.

Tyler: Yeah, it was a solid, nostalgia inducing, well acted and directed, monster movie that wasn't about the monster. A great way to kick off the summer.

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook and Twitter.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tyler Hughes