Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Talkback: What DIDN'T work in Super 8

For the most part, I enjoyed Super 8. J.J. Abrams is an excellent visual director and he did a fantastic job directing the kids. For the most part, I was pretty impressed with the young performers. In fact, I think the material with the kids was some of the strongest stuff in the film. Also, I think it's important to support original ideas in film - so long as those original ideas don't star Kevin James.


I was less enamored with large aspects of the alien monster plot. In one scene, the creature smashes up a gas station and a police car with all the care of a toddler toppling his building blocks. Then, in another scene, we're shown that all the engines on a used car lot were taken right out of their automobiles - with no damage to the shell of the car at all.

Yeah, suddenly the violent, thrashing monster decided to gingerly remove engines from the cars and then carefully closed the hood to make his crime less obvious.

Space Monster Mechanics
Sketch by Josiah Patrow

I also don't quite get why the latter stages of the story seems to push the idea that the monster is misunderstood and that we should be rooting for him to get safely home. Look, I get that part of the point was that this alien was mistreated in captivity, but... he EATS at least two people right on screen! It's a little hard to treat him like a cuddly E.T. after that.

So I'm sure a lot of you saw the movie this weekend. What didn't work for you and why?


  1. Yup, my biggest issue was (spoilers) when the alien chomps the Sheriff and Lady in Curlers (2 innocent people it just had a psychic connection with, no less). I think this happened to make it seem like Joe was truly in peril/raise the stakes so you think it’s possible the alien could kill him (even though you know it won’t). While I think it’s understandable the alien would be scared/angry, I think killing innocent people or killing anyone not as an act of self defense made me lose any good will I had for it. I think the emotional ending falls flat after that because it’s SO similar to E.T. but the alien was too bad to earn it. While I enjoyed the movie overall, to me that’s the movie’s problem in general…when it’s good it’s really good because it’s riffing on Spielberg movies I love, but when it falls short or when what J.J. seemingly wants/likes (scary bad killing alien) clashes with that sentimental tone, it’s that much more disappointing.

  2. Did it chomp them? Didn't it just whisk them away off screen? It hung them up (and somehow (psychically?)) sedated them before, why would it just eat them now? The whole point of the lair seems to be to convey that it isn't a coldblooded killer. It seems a pretty quick cheat to say the opposite right after. Although it seemed like the kid, Joe, had to talk himself out of being chomped too.

    I really enjoyed the movie. The kids were great, and it was overall really entertaining. While I can let a lot go for the "Hollywood" of it, there seemed to be a lot of motivational plot holes. Why did Joe go on a rescue attempt? There was no reason to think she wasn't devoured. Joe and his dad's relationship was set up, but felt shallow. Why did the soldier take his locket, but let them keep the backpack of fireworks? (Unless I am mis-remembering...)

    Regardless, I enjoyed it, expectations exceeded, and have been recommending it to people that like fun movies. Cheers!

  3. I think that anything without Joe in the film didn't work. If we had stayed with him the entire film then it would have felt tighter and ultimately deliver a more satisfying narrative. The adults do absolutely nothing, there is no point to ever leave the group of kids, Joe in particular.

  4. The misunderstood alien was handled a bit awkwardly. I can see that the other people had no sympathy, so they were eaten on the spot. Joe understood what was going on, so he and the alien made a connection. Using that logic though, why didnt the alien forge a connection with the girl Alice? She seemed to be the most empathetic character in the movie based on how quickly/deeply she and Joe connected.

    I didnt like the ending where Joe let the lockett go. Even though he survived the whole ordeal, why would he suddenly be willing to let go of the one thing he has left from his mother? Why didnt the father hold his hand and help pull the lockett in or something?

    I agree with the thought that the alien should have been presented in a more consistent manner i.e. bashing things vs stealing engines like the Pink Panther. There should haev been something more to let us know the alien had reasons to show two sides of its personality/skillset. I know the varying styles of actvitity add to the mystery, but that was a bit clunky.

  5. I appreciated this blog contribution from reader and friend-of-the-blog Josiah Patrow:

    Funny Cartoon here

  6. We covered most of problems and flaws with Super H8TE last week. :)