Home > Movie Reviews > Production value!!: on development in “Super 8”

Production value!!: on development in “Super 8”

Orion and I haven’t seen a lot of movies recently, because nothing has seemed interesting.  We finally decided to see “Super 8” after hearing good things about it from everyone.  We had to settle for the tiny Arlington Heights movie theatre, and for a while we were the only people in the entire theatre.  I prefer watching movies with an active crowd, but the movie was nevertheless exciting.

“Super 8” felt like “E.T.” meets “War of the Worlds” – it’s a discovery film about alien life, from the point of view of kids, and with Elle Fanning instead of Dakota.  The best part of this movie was the truly believable relationships – the children are at that awkward semi-teen age in their lives, and their interactions are entirely believable. (The exception is the way parents act; their actions seem over exaggerated and suggest a much darker backstory; an adult audience automatically infers some kind of romantic affair when the actuality is much simpler.) It’s clear the script was meticulously developed, because almost nothing feels forced.  This natural, unnoticeable sort of development is the best kind, and shows a mature writer and director.

Unfortunately, I don’t particularly find budding pre-teen romance interesting.  Although well-done, I found myself waiting for the next bit of action; I wanted to see the alien rather than a bunch of kids argue amongst themselves.  Joe, our main character, is filming a monster movie to submit to a contest with his friends, and finds himself falling for Alice (Elle Fanning’s character); they both do good jobs, as do the rest of the children.  Charles, the leader/director/producer of the film group, especially has a heavy repertoire of one-liners that add comedic relief to otherwise heavy scenes.

In many ways, “Super 8” is similar to another previous alien+film movie, “Cloverfield” (which director J.J. Abrams produced), which is also about a group of friends, and presented entirely through a handheld camera.  I hated “Cloverfield,” and I remember I kept waiting for the handheld to cut to a real camera, and it never did.  However, it’s a lot more interesting and a lot less annoying to hang out with a bunch of coming-of-age children (“Super 8” hero Joe and his friends are around 13) than a bunch of rowdy young adults (“Cloverfield” characters are old enough to drink but not old enough to be responsible or likeable).

Orion is likely to focus more on the personal development of the children in “Super 8,” but for me, the movie felt just a little too light.  There wasn’t anything epic in this movie; sure, there were a few cheap scares and some great destruction scenes, but in the end, there wasn’t anything to grasp on to.  If someone mentioned they were going to see “Super 8,” I would wish them well, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it, especially in terms of a summer blockbuster.

Overall – 3.5/5; there’s nothing particularly wrong with “Super 8,” but there’s also nothing particularly great.  My favorite part was probably the short film that plays during the credits, called “The Case,” which is supposed to be the film the children end up making and submitting to their film contest.

Best regards,


See also: Orion’s Review (4.25/5)

  1. Sic
    June 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Hmm… the trailer made the movie seem thrilling, but that must be just good marketing. This is the type of a review that gets rid of my indecisiveness when picking what movie to watch. Thanks!

  1. December 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

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