When I go to a movie I take a notebook. I usually jot down a few items about the movies as I watch. I can look back at my notes and see the movies that really engaged by the amount of notes I take during a movie. For this film, I have only one note in my book: “loved it! “ I was completely engaged throughout the picture. Every aspect of this movie was masterfully done. The acting, the storytelling, set design -- everything was done really well. The pace of the story was fine and the balancing act between all of the human emotions is awesome. Some people have said that it’s a cross between The Goonies and Cloverfield. I would say “yes and no”. I will explain more later. Right now let me go into other aspects of the movie. I am going to give this movie a full-on green light. I count this as a win for J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.
The story surrounds a group of kids who are shooting a movie for a super 8 film festival. Super 8 refers to the type of film they are using, not a motel. While they are filming a scene at a train station, a train derails. The crash lets lose something that begins terrorizing the town. The rest of the movie focuses on things that happen while the kids try to figure out what is going on in the town, while finishing the movie, dodging their parents, finding young love and dealing with town familial politics. There are enough elements to keep you involved on several layers in the movie. The complex story is fun to watch as it rolls out. I liked how the kids and the grownups were trying to solve the same things, but were going from two different aspects.
The kids: Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso and Elle Fanning all did wonderfully in their roles. I enjoyed the characterizations that each brought to this young film crew. The kids’ production reminded me of some of my films shoots where you had several people doing roles and also working on the crew. The dynamic between them was well-played. I bought into the friendship they portrayed and enjoyed watching them argue and bicker like friends do from time to time. It felt real to me as I watched them go through this event. For the adult cast they had some challenging elements to bring to the screen, the relationship between Jackson(Kyle Chandler) and Louis (Ron Eldard) was well-performed. There were some really well played-out scenes where the characters grow and evolve and truly enjoy watching the development of the people as well as the story. A movie that has a depth of character is almost more entertaining for me to watch as the story is.
J.J. Abrams did a spectacular job. He made a well-balanced and entertaining film. This movie built to a good pace with the suspense and plenty of emotional story elements to satisfy several different viewers’ tastes. I have been a fan of his work in the past I was truly won over with his version of Star Trek. As a side note I have to admit I was extremely nervous when I heard they were remaking the series in a movie. I was willing to give him the Benefit of the doubt and went to see it with as much as an open mind as I could, I was not disappointed with his take on the earlier years that I surprised and pleased with the outcome. He had me as a fan from that point on. He is spectacular storyteller and does a wonderful job putting them up on the screen. The cinematographer (Larry Fong) did a great job of visualizing this film. His style of filmmaking can be seen in his past projects and they carry over to this one as well. His scene set up for the more suspenseful parts of this film defiantly have his touch to them. The sweeping long shots of the action and the composition of the perspective shots were “Mint”
I still want to address the comparisons to The Goonies and Cloverfield. There are some elements that are really Goonies-esk, you have a bunch of kids going out on an adventure and facing dangerous elements while they pursue their goal. If you take out all of the campy elements of Goonies, it’s not that far off. I have not seen Cloverfield but to the comparison seems to lie in how you do not get a good look at the monster until the very end of the movie. Many films in the past have used this technique so I don’t know if Cloverfield can take credit for it. Aside from that I can’t comment on how much alike those two films are.
Ok this week I am going to ask you what was one kids movie that you liked when you were young and when you watched it as adult it lost some of that wonder, It’s a sad questions but I had to ask, because I was watching Goonies again and I just can’t get that same feeling I had when I was a kid. My tastes have matured I guess.