Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Super Movie

In a few words... best movie I've seen this year.

(don't worry... I wouldn't dream of spoiling this film for you, because if you haven't seen "Super 8", I truly want you to go see it for yourself... so most of what you will read below you can learn from watching the trailer...)

"Super 8" tells the story of Joe, a 13 year old kid who lost his mom in an accident, son of Jackson, who is a police officer in their little town of Lillian, Ohio, and is also grieving the loss of his wife, Joe's mom.  Quickly, we meet Joe's friends Charles, Preston, Martin and Cary, all--like my friends were and your friends were at that age as well--with their different characteristics and personalities, some good, some bad.

We also see that Charles is directing a film, using a Super 8 camera, and the movie kind of jumps right in the middle of the production of the kid's movie, and Charles has taken the gumption of bringing on one of the cutest girls in the school:  Alice Dainard.  And Alice's past and present are somehow intertwined with that of Joe, who really is the star of this movie.  Elle Fanning plays Alice, and she's awesome, leading to this exchange on The Deucecast Ep XI: The Lion, The Witch & the Podcast:

Me:  Elle Fanning was great in this part
Mikey:  Elle, I dare say, the better Fanning
Me:  Elle yes. 

Charles (far left) directs, while Alice (the only girl in the photo), Joe
(the kid next to Alice), Preston and Martin follow
So, while out filming a night scene in a location that they would be in extreme trouble for being in, not to mention the transportation they used to get there, there is a huge incident, things go horribly awry, and since by now our characters are established, the story takes off like a roller coaster who just crested a hill and is about to fly at 60 mph+.  (stick around long enough and you'll see the film they made in its completed form... and it might be better than "The Green Lantern" will be... just saying...)

The villain character comes in the form of Colonel Nelec, portrayed brilliantly by Noah Emmerich... Nelec is not a bad guy because he's evil, greedy or conniving... no, he's a bad guy because he just doesn't care, as long as his mission is accomplished--and by utilizing his "not caring" attitude, a lot of bad things happen to a lot of good people.  Emmerich is a character actor that you probably recognize from "The Truman Show" as Truman's best buddy, with a very distinctive face and voice, and though he's been in lots of other stuff you may or may not have seen him in, I am hoping this turn will give him more visible roles.

So, that's all the details I can tell you without giving away too much, and potentially spoiling the surprises and the genuine film "moments" in the movie.  When I say "moments", that's something that so many movies today, good and bad, fail to have.  Moments are those scenes, lines, or things that really just stand out, that make you smile, that make you think, "That's good..."  There are good films, even great, that lack "moments", but this one has several.

Another great thing about this movie is that you care about the characters, you truly give a darn.  You want the movie the kids are making to be good, if not cheesy and corny, you want Joe to figure out how to deal with his mother's death, you want father Jackson to treat his son better and be more understanding, and you want to know what was in that train.  You want to know what that camera saw.

"Super 8" is fantastic storytelling, it unfolds the drama piece by piece, solving one question while at times, asking another... its tense at times, but never scary, its a sci-fi movie at times, but never leaves its relational core.  The movie isn't about what was on that train... the movie is about the friendships of Joe, Charles and other kids and how they react to what was on that train, and as they all deal with their own lives, especially Joe's tragedy, and Alice's family dysfunction. 

One of the comparisons I hear is "Stand By Me", and that is a smart parallel, but only because of the relationships of the friends involved... you care about Teddy, Chris, Vern and Gordo more than you actually care about the dead body, even though the dead body is the reason you care about the four boys--"Super 8" has the same dynamic, even with a chick thrown in.   

Ron Eldard, left, and Noah Emmerich, the other side, will
hopefully be bigger stars than they are.
By the way, that's Ron Eldard as the dad to Alice, a guy you might have seen as one of the shuttle pilots in "Deep Impact", but like Noah Emmerich, his other work may not be as familiar ("Drop Dead Fred"?  "Ghost Ship"?  Seriously, can you tell me you honestly saw "The House of Sand and Fog"?), and I'm hoping that this will raise his stature.

There is some language in it, much of it by the kids being... well, kids.  There is an F-bomb right in the middle of the movie, though its kind of comical by who says it, and the violence is really just sci-fi violence.  I'm afraid to use the word I'm looking for, which is "alien-violence", because I don't want you to thinking, "Whatever, I'm not going to see some alien movie..." because its just not that... I mean, it is, but its not. 

To sum up, I loved the movie, as did The Lovely Steph Leann.  Go see it, in the theaters, don't wait for the DBDB release.  Get a big bag of fresh popcorn, a Co-cola and a pack'a Twizzlers, and enjoy a movie that was made for the movie-going experience... you might not have another movie all summer to give you such an opportunity.

The Summer of Blogging, Day Nineteen

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