?Despite my previous claim to the contrary, I ended up seeing Super 8 this weekend. I’d seen enough reviews saying that it was the greatest movie of the year as well as that it didn’t live up to the hype that I went in with a pretty open mind and enjoyed the hell out of it.
Now, that isn’t to say it’s perfect. In fact, I don’t think I need to own it or even see it again. But that doesn’t mean it was extraordinarily special. You’ve probably heard the all the talk about Super 8 being a de facto ’80s Spielberg directed/produced film, like E.T., The Goonies, even Gremlins, and that talk is 100% correct. For anyone whose formative years included watching those movie — and I know there’s a lot of us — Super 8 is a like a little time capsule of childhood happiness. It’s amazing how nostalgic I felt even in the first five minutes, knowing I going to watch a bunch of kids I would have identified with immediately in my youth tackle a monster adults just couldn’t handle.
It’s not a perfect copy, of course. For one, the dangers the kids face in Super 8 are ramped up for modern audiences, and it’s kind of jarring to see kids run through an ’80s suburb with everything exploding everywhere, clearly in mortal danger. Also, the kids don’t quite have that lovability of the ’80s flicks of our youths, but I kind of wonder if that’s actually because the characterization is deeper than “fat kid is a scaredy cat!” and “Asian kid like gizmos!” which is admittedly for the best. I do know that Joel Courtney, as the main kid, as well as Elle Fanning, were both terrific, and a lot of the movie’s appeal was because they pulled off wonderful, realistic, incredibly grounded portrayals of being kids in 1980 without a hint of guile.
More than a lot of nerd movies, I think your mileage may vary on Super 8. The generation younger than me might find the movie silly and slow, and there are probably folks my age who found it a pale simulacrum of the movie we loved as kids. But for me, it was practically a time machine, and I really, really enjoyed it — and I don’t think that would have happened if I’d waited to see it on DVD.