Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turn Off Your Heartlight

Super 8       WWW Score: 70%

Since its shot-in-a-theater-with-a-cellphone trailer debuted over a year ago, the buzz has been building to monumental proportions for Super 8 – a flick that should have been titled ‘Cloverfield 2: Terror Hits The Heartland’. J.J. Abrams attempt to ape the feel of Steven Spielberg in his prime comes off as nothing short of a sadly flat facsimile.

Abrams takes what was clearly a solid concept and over-directs the thing to the point that the entire exercise feels more forced than any one of Jennifer Aniston’s relationships. From the young cast throwing out lines that sound more 2011 than 1979 to countless plausibility issues (a pickup truck slams into a speeding train head-on yet the truck suffers only front-end damage and the driver somehow survives) Super 8’s script is riddled with holes and lame dialogue that only serve to remove the filmgoer from the entire experience.

My main point of contention with Super 8 is squarely focused on the creature itself. What is it with Abrams and his fascination with using a different version of the exact same monster in all his recent films? The “misunderstood” alien in Super 8 is simply a scaled-down version of the Cloverfield creature and nearly identical to the one that pops up in Star Trek. A movie that is designed to deliver an emotional punch must have at its center something that exhibits at least some shred of “humanity” inside it. Instead, the alien is nothing more than an oversized insect that enjoys eating people rather than Reece’s Pieces.

Everything about Super 8 is heavy-handed - the script, the acting, the score – Abrams comes closer to imitating Michael Bay than Spielberg. It all makes me question why exactly J.J. Abrams is as “brilliant” as people purport him to be. With a real opportunity to create something timeless – Abrams has instead tweaked E.T. but turned the loveable alien into something completely devoid of a heartlight.