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“Super 8”—Orion’s Take

Clover is a jaded, sarcastic, teenage-minded, reviewer when it comes to movies about relationships: if there is a movie that attempts to bring a certain set of relationships to the forefront, Clover cannot help but dismiss it as “sentimental” or “cheesy,” especially if there is no action or whimsy to distract her.  I must admit that I too fall into this trap when watching certain movies, but I often find explorations of emotion and human interaction quite fascinating.

You may have heard that this film is about aliens.  That is incorrect: while the movie includes alien interactions, the focus of the film is on a group of kids that are starting to grow up.  The tragedies are ultimately human tragedies.  Joe Lamb, the protagonist of the film, loses his mother in an accident at the steel factory.  His father, the lieutenant sheriff of a small town, is left to raise Joe by himself.  Their interaction, which is both distant and desperate, is one of the highlights of the film.  Likewise, the exploration of each character, no matter how minor, lends a sense of fullness, or richness, to this film.  Clover thinks this movie is nothing special.  I have to beg to differ: the tangled relationships, the setting, and the plot all mingle into something utterly pleasant.  I agree that this is no masterpiece, of the likes of E.T. (which this movie imitates and draws on), but there is some spark in this film that is absent from movies like “X-Men: First Class,” a real sense of character.

I can taste character when I watch a film.  Some movies portray people in general as bitter and unloving, a distinctly sour flavor.  Others make the world seem like a playground—minor woes, minor foes, and major cuteness: this is sweet, sometimes cloyingly so.  But in a movie like “Super 8,” which, for the most part, portrays people as people, produces a flavor that is wonderfully subtle, like almond or coconut, and also amazingly rich: like truffle.  These people are real; these relationships are real.  I know people exactly like Joe, or like Martin (haha, brownie points for having my name for a character, never mind that that character is a wimp), and every word of their dialogue makes sense.  Clover says that she isn’t interested in prepubescent romance, but the truth is that all romance is prepubescent romance plus sexuality.  In my opinion, getting a prepubescent relationship right is a lot harder to fake than getting an adult romance right—in movies like “No Strings Attached” you just throw in lots of sex and messy break-up scenes and people will buy it.  But everyone knows that innocent and intense feeling of falling in love with someone at that age, and the complications that come with it.  To say that this characterization is nothing special is to deny that romance is special at all (and I’m sure Clover would quite easily make that concession).  A world without romance is a dull world indeed.

Though the audience is left with a few questions at the end, the ending still satisfies.  The viewer leaves the movie sated, if not stuffed, on the well-written, believable relationships.  What more can you ask for?


– Orion

See also: Apple’s Review (3.5/5)

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. June 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

    This review makes me a lot more excited for whenever I get to see this movie. I was wondering if the combination of JJ Abrams and Spielberg would live up to the hype, but from the character development you just mentioned, it sounds like it did just that. Thanks for both of your takes!

  2. Sic
    June 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Of course Orion would say that about prepubescent romance, for he is an idealist!! *points finger* However, I will have to agree with him as I often reminisce about my “first love” in elementary school. Though, it might just be a desire of mine to go back to the days when I could naively enjoy life without having to deal with the nagging reality.

  1. December 26, 2011 at 1:20 pm

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