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So I saw Super 8
msauvage purple
And I have thoughts.

1) This movie will remind you of a lot of other movies--a lot--but, I think, in a way that sets it squarely in the genre of those movies rather than being just a ripoff/homage. It probably helps that J.J. Abrams has enough of a style of his own (and a filmmaker universe--nice Slusho sign). There's a point when you have elements of so many other, disparate things--E.T., Cloverfield, War of the Worlds, The Goonies, and, I would argue, a smidge of Jurassic Park--that it's more than the sum of its parts, more than "a movie cobbled together out of other movies." (In fact, what the movie really reminds me of is a '50s creature feature, just with a Spielbergian color scheme.) (Yes, he produced it.) This is what Picasso meant when he said, "Bad artists copy. Good artists steal." Not that this is a Picasso; it's a solid B+ or higher. I'm just saying, the homage quality is a plus, not a liability, IMO.

2) The train crash really is awesome.

3) What happens once we've run out of filmmakers who grew up in the '70s? What happens when the people making movies are the kids who grew up on Nintendo and never went outside? What are the glossy nostalgic childhood-adventure movies going to look like then?

4) The kids are great. But the best acting in the entire movie is Elle Fanning playing a young girl playing a detective's wife in the kids' amateur movie. Truth.

5) I am completely and utterly convinced that Joe and Alice have the same mother, and this is either something that got written out, dropped, or left as subtext. Why else would Alice's father be so pissed that the kids are still hanging out? Joe's father, sure--Alice's father was responsible for the mother's death. I think both the fathers are terrified the kids are going to fall in love. I suspect there was also some rewriting, for whatever reason, around how/why the mother died, because Alice's explanation is, "My father got drunk, called in sick, and your mother took his shift." But the way the father apologizes is, "I never wanted anyone to get hurt" (what was the precise wording?). How did he have anything to do with anyone getting hurt? All he should really be saying is, "It should have been me instead of her." Which makes me think that originally, he was drunk on the job and some negligence of his got her killed. Joe's father's complete and blazing hatred at the beginning of the movie would make more sense to me if that were the case. I don't think it's implausible that a grieving man would blame Alice's father for something that put his wife at the scene of the accident but didn't actually cause it, but... it makes more sense if Alice's father did.

And look at the way Alice watches the home movie of the mother; she's looking at someone's mother when she never had a mother, she's looking at someone whose death should have been her father's, yes, and that's enough, but what if we're being told that somehow she senses that this is her mother? I swear they cast an actress who has Fanning's facial structure. And then there's something else--"Go on, leave like your mother did!" Alice is older than Joe. It's plausible that the mother left her boyfriend/husband (...and her infant child?), married the deputy, and had Joe with him. Which kind of makes her sound like an asshole, actually. So I feel like maybe these two elements got written out to make the characters more sympathetic--Alice's father isn't directly responsible for the accident and death, and the mother now isn't the kind of person who would leave her first child, because that's a bit more human complexity than a summer movie about an alien blowing shit up can bite off.

The only, only thing that makes me doubt that theory is that, when Alice's father finally apologizes, he refers to "your wife," as if he doesn't know her very well, rather than "Elizabeth." Otherwise, I am 99.99% convinced that there was a version of this story where Joe and Alice were secret siblings.

6) If you are over the age of 15, you might as well give up right now. There is absolutely no way you will be saving the world. Really high chance you might get dead, though.


8) Even aliens get PTSD. But preteens can cure them.

9) So apparently Clovie has an intergalactic ancestor who was good with hardware. Seriously, maybe this guy sowed some wild oats with a sea monster. A really, really big one.

10) So... wait. Why did the alien have half the town strung up in his subterranean lair? Was he, like... stockpiling food for the journey home, or something?

I had other thoughts but I forgot them in my rage at Apple and all its products, specifically iTunes and its refusal to recognize my upgraded phone, download a restore, or even update itself. This is an ordeal that has been going on for three hours now, concurrent with a headache. Don't even get me started on the ~NEW YAHOO MAIL~ fuckery that won't even let me log into the account I use for LJ notifications. Discuss amongst yourselves while I fetch the Aleve.

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I'm just waiting for everyone to be like, "Uh, I thought that was pretty obvious."

Although, I will say, for some reason--the MOMENT Ron Eldard first arrived at the house, I thought, "That's either the mother's ex-boyfriend or a brother nobody likes." Before he even went in and made anyone mad! I don't know WHY.

So it's a monster movie?

I mean the trailers looking interesting but I couldn't tell you what the story was about.

There's a train crash, and some kids, and then dogs go missing, and some guy gets dragged away.

Is the monster cool? I'm not watching if it turns out the true monster is 'man' or something like that.

Oh, no, it's an actual monster/alien. It's kind of like Cloverfield without the shakycam. They do a really good job of only showing you bits and pieces of the alien. Like, even when I finally saw the whole thing, I'm still not sure what I was looking at.

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It bothers me how much the firecracker kid looks like the son from Poltergeist

He played the young Kirk in the last Star Trek movie.

I haven't seen super 8 yet, but i'm reserving this so I remember to come back and read it.

I do know that as someone who has lived in Dayton and the Dayton area my whole life, my friends and I are planning to go see it and bitch about how it doesn't look anything like Dayton. (From the commercials it looks super hilly like the very southern part of ohio... apparently it was filmed in virginia? Which explains that, at least. Although the "city" looked pretty awful, too...)


Were there any shout-outs to Raiders of the Lost Ark? It seems like that's the only Spielberg movie that didn't spring to mind at some point.

Also, Elle Fanning playing a young girl playing a zombie - and nailing 'creepy zombie' and 'awkward teen romantic chemistry' simultaneously - deserves mention.

I was a little disappointed in the ending - it almost felt like someone said. 'oh, look at the time. Quick, wrap up all the plot points!' Then again, the fact that the monster was 'defeated' by having the main character tell it to stop whining and go away was pretty cool. (I just realized that a very similar thing happened when the Powerpuff Girls took on a Godzilla lookalilke).


I was thinking maybe he was the wife's semi-estranged brother (or the dad's totally estranged brother?) and the kids were secret cousins. But yeah, there was definitely some subtext there.

Was the Slusho logo in the gas station convenience store? I was trying to keep my eye out for it and I totally missed it somehow.

I definitely thought they were going to end up being half siblings, too.

Yeah, it was. If you see the movie again, look up near the ceiling/top of the screen. It's pretty big--the drink machine, I think?

Loved the movie. Really loved it - it captured the 70s perfectly. Jessica Tuck looked wicked old there though. My daughter did lean over and say 'whats a CB radio?'. Sigh.

Loved it. Can't say anything more than that.

3) What happens once we've run out of filmmakers who grew up in the '70s? What happens when the people making movies are the kids who grew up on Nintendo and never went outside? What are the glossy nostalgic childhood-adventure movies going to look like then?

Now I am sad

I think this actually is what Scott Pilgrim vs the World might be.

I definitely got the secret siblings vibe - at the beginning. Then I thought about it more and decided it would have been impossible in such a small town for her to have had another kid and NOBODY have said anything. It's kind of reverse fridge logic.

So you're probably right, Cleo, and the subplot was cut, leaving a faint residue of subtext.

Also, was it just me or did the alien look like Optimus Prime?

I didn't think they were secret siblings. My viewing assumptions: I thought that Elizabeth was one of the few people who was kind to Dainard, so it really tore him up that he ended up being indirectly responsible for her death. Maybe he even loved her when they were younger, idk.

I'm sure Elizabeth got some call that day like, "Louis Dainard didn't show up this morning--could you come in today?" so her husband was well-aware of why she was at work on that day at that moment when the beam fell. It sounded like Deputy Lamb has long believed that Louis is a fuckup and had that belief affirmed in the most awful way, so he wanted nothing to do with a Dainard. He also didn't care for Joe's friends in general. Louis, on the other hand--Joe is a reminder of Elizabeth. And if Louis did love Elizabeth, then he lost her, and now he's "losing" Alice.

Also: The military vehicles and emergency shelter were upsetting for some people in the audience. Two days without power--cry me a fuckin' river. I couldn't stop staring at that one kid's teeths. And I wept like a cradle baby off and on throughout the movie starting with the appearance of the Amblin logo, which reminded me of one of my first trips to the movies, when my dad took me to see ET. ;_;

Unrelated, but also: It just came to my attention that this lady has been cast as Harriet Tubman and while I'm sure she's as nice as pie...hahahaha. Nope. No.

This is happening in many other genres too. Some years back I watched the DVD extras in Sen to Chihiro, and there's Miyazaki, *the* master, asking a team of young animators to make the dragon look like an eel. Which in seafood-crazy Japan, you'd think they'd at least know about. So, none of them had seen a live eel. They had to take a field trip.

Relatedly, medical-type relatives of mine were talking about the old days when doctors could diagnose by feel or by smell. Now the younger ones order an MRI and wouldn't know an illness on sight.

Tactile is turning into a rare commodity, it seems. To get all Asimov about it – maybe we are turning into Trantor. We've hit half of Bradbury's works already.

I thought the people hanging in the monster's layer might be because the alien wanted to learn more about human technology and could do so through his telekinesis. Prior to escaping he had only touched Dr. Woodward, so maybe he was using the Sheriff/Gas Station Attendant/Powerline Technician/Woman In Curlers/Alice's knowledge of human technology to build his... whatever he was stealing all those appliances and power lines for in his lair. Was he building some kind of magnet in or around the water tower to attract the spaceship blocks? These are mysteries.

It also crossed my mind that Joe's mother could also be Alice's mother when they were watching the movie, but it gave a weird, incest-y vibe to Joe's fascination with her and their blossoming friendship/romance. It would have been a more interesting plot twist without Joe's crush.

Did anyone else catch the monster's face in the gasoline puddle?

I saw it, and I even knew it was his face, but I just totally could not interpret the shapes I was seeing.

At first I thought the hung-up-people might be in-use as human batteries of some kind, but other people have said they were food.

Apparently, Bruce Greenwood was in this? I didn't see him at all. (More importantly, was there a JJ Abrams movie without a Greg Grunberg in it?)

Edited at 2011-06-12 03:08 am (UTC)

Greg Grunberg has an offscreen cameo -- we hear his voice coming from a TV at one point, followed by the classic seventies laugh track.

Totally non Super 8 related...

My iPhone did something like that recently - kept saying you have to restore but when you try to restore it gives you an error message that won't go away, no matter how many times you trouble shoot it? If that's the case, save yourself the headache and just take it in. That's a software malfunction and they should just give you a new one.

Re: Totally non Super 8 related...

Yeah, we did that this morning. I had a small crowd of Apple Dudes staring at my phone going, "That is WEIRD." They just said to hell with it and gave me a new one.

trufax: My work (Bernie's in Pittsburgh) rented all the 70s prop camera equipment (cameras, film, reels, old movie reels, projectors, all the stuff in the photo store-camera repair sign, order envelopes, Kodak signage, etc (not the stereo equipment though) lights, movie titler for the credits to the zombie movie) all of it-like 33 boxes worth of stuff.

it was a huge pain in the behind at the time but it is so AWESOME to see on film!

re:joe & alice being siblings...eh...i think that the dad would have told him because it would have been a piece of his mom he could have held on to? also, seeing how much the mom loved joe it seems unlikely that she would leave her infant/young child with a drunk father? also, there is no reason to not let the siblings be friends?

though i do agree that it seems like the hate towards her dad would be more justified if he was the one who actually did the dropping of the beam....

That's so cool about your workplace renting out all the old film stuff. I felt like I was "at home" again -- I grew up dabbling with Super8 and 16mm film and remember many old camera stores like the one in the movie. Ah....nostalgia! Even back in the '70s, film was a pretty expensive hobby to be involved in.

I wound up seeing Super 8 in IMAX on Thursday morning, and woooooooooo! That was, indeed, an awesome wreck. I'll be telling my dad about the movie tomorrow, and I'm going to tell him, "Remember the train crash in The Fugitive? This one is better."

While I really enjoyed this movie, I do think it suffers slightly in comparison to E.T. -- Spielberg's movie works better on both the emotional level, and in terms of plot and logic. That said, well done Abrams: solid cast, snappy dialogue, beautifully lensed, killer FX, fun soundtrack. Also, loved getting to see "The Case" during the end credits.

ETA: Okay, one major gripe -- can we knock it off with the dead/M.I.A. moms already, J.J.? Yeesh.

Edited at 2011-06-12 03:38 am (UTC)

JJ's just taking a page from the best fairy tales with the dead/ MIA mother.

Yeah, I was wondering about #3 when I saw the trailer. I also wonder how much longer Hollywood is going to pretend that most kids don't have cell phones now, and can just call for help when they're in trouble. (If this is set in the 70s, obviously they couldn't, but I've seen so many movies with current settings where the everything could've been wrapped up in twenty minutes if one of the kids did what a real kid would actually do, which is immediately text everyone they know. I understand that the filmaker's trying to tell a story, but completely ignoring such a prominent reality of Life in These Here Times seems lazy.)

They could always say solar flares were screwing with the phones. A few years ago there was some weird solar activity messing up people's signals. [/attempted justification]

While Kyle Chandler looked awesome on the big screen, the one false note I felt was at the end when he said "I've got you." At no point in the movie did he "get" his kid--literally or figuratively. The kid rescued himself.

I'm just glad the dogs are all okay!

Yeah, I found that to be an odd choice of phrasing. Like, I understand the father's supposed to say something cathartic at that moment, but it didn't really mesh with the emotional storyline at that point. "I'm here" FOR ONCE might have worked better.

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Yeah, I was actually thinking about that, the fact that the spaceship was kind of top-heavy with appendages, just like the alien.


~NEW YAHOO MAIL~ is the bane of my existence; I cannot EMPHASIZE MY HATRED enough.

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Oh, you can't mess anything up. It's already messed up when you get there. All I'm saying is, if they ask you to switch to the new Yahoo mail, DON'T SAY YES.

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gurl I haven't even bothered with the new Yahoo, for some reason it hasn't switched me over yet (laziness? I dunno).

I think Spielbergian films will become a Historical kind of thing in film.

It just today hit my stepfather; it hasn't hit my mother yet. Presumably because they could only deal with so many thousands of people screaming at their inaccessible inbox at a time.


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