Looking Back at 2010s Films: Super 8 (2011)

25 Nov

By Tanner Smith

2011–J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8” was one of the biggest hits of the summer and one of my new favorite films. I saw it three times in the theater, I had a great time each viewing, I watched it several more times on DVD, I absolutely adored this movie…

Well, now that time has passed, I don’t think I would rate it four stars today. But I still enjoy it and I’d only tone the verdict down to three-and-a-half stars.

When I first saw this film in a theater, it blew me away. The effects were great (that train crash is still spectacular!), the mystery is well-handled, the buildup is nice, the kids are perfectly portrayed (that pyromaniac kid Cary constantly cracks me up), and it’s just the Spielberg-Abrams collaboration I was waiting for and got….But with that said, there are some major problems that became more clear to me, watching this again. First and foremost is the subplot involving the personal “vendetta,” if you will, Deputy Lamb (Kyle Chandler) has against this one guy, Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard). Maybe it’s just me, but his reasons for feeling (and acting) this way toward not only him but his generally nice daughter could be stronger. I know that it’s because Lamb’s wife had to fill in for Dainard at work and she was killed in an accident as a result, but really, it wasn’t his fault. I get it; Lamb’s a flawed man, as is Dainard, but I just couldn’t sympathize with him, because of his incredibly harsh attitude toward him and his daughter (as sort of guilt by association, I guess). This plot element simply doesn’t work for me anymore and I fast-forwarded through any scenes that bring it up.

That’s my biggest problem with the film. Other little problems include certain plot elements that don’t pay off as well as they should, and…I’ll just say it, I think the ending is kinda anticlimactic. There, I finally admitted the very thing that people have the most issues with about this film. (Though, I still think the last scene is clever and leads to a heartbreaking moment where Joe has to let go of his late mother once and for all, so that made up for it.)

With that said, I still enjoy “Super 8” for much more reasons than my personal issues with it. I still recommend it, just…slightly less highly than I did before? Take that for what it’s worth.

P.S. The kids’ short film played during the end credits? Awesome!

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