Super 8 (4 stars)
This sci fi movie has the look and feel of an older movie, particularly a Spielberg movie. ET plus Iron Giant with a touch of creature feature (and two touches of Harrison Ford’s version of The Fugitive). The cast is pretty good (a nod to Stand By Me). The effects are at times over the top but effective. I liked the pop music soundtrack, but, as is often the case, I found the non-pop mood music excessive and loud.
I’ve enjoyed much of J.J. Abrams’ work beginning with Alias and including much (not all) of Lost. Abrams has a recognizable style. He knows how to move people through an apparent disaster (see Episode 1 of Lost). He makes frequent use of an effect I HATED in his StarTrek – and here – in which a blue light crosses the screen as a kind of flare, masquerading as the effect of lights within the scene. Perhaps he considers that realistic, but I consider it annoying. My first thought is there is a problem with the “film” or transmission/projection; my second thought is fire the camera crew, except it’s really the director who goes out of his way to add this in post production. Ugh.
Abrams also has a signature many of my friends will notice. However, I don’t really like his affectation because it marks him a disciple of that professor – and I am not. Contrived instances of our shared … fetish muddy the waters; I delight in the random, not the staged. (OK, I can’t help but think, “oh, look!” no matter the context and I’ve staged more than one instance.) [If this paragraph means nothing to you but you want to know, follow this link, then this one. It’s innocent fun – or deeply profound – despite my use of the word fetish, which will probably cause the wrong people to follow search results to this entry]