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Love, Loss, Zombies, Monsters and Kids: Over-hyped Super 8 pulls out all the F-stops and hits a wall 

JJ Abrams re-spins Cloverfield in Super 8.

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I have an immediate aversion to any movie with Stephen Spielberg's name attached to it. Not just because Spielberg and George Lucas singlehandedly changed movies for the worse in the '70s by making special effects-induced blockbusters and taking away the strong story-driven anti-hero movies of that era, but because nowadays everything Spielberg touches involves cuteness, schmaltzy music and some sort of cornball ending. Plus, he has this "never grow up" agenda and gobs of money to make things overly extravagant (think Transformers franchise). Super 8 is no exception: it's a kid's movie from start to finish.

Teaming up with the brains behind TV's Lost, J. J. Abrams (also responsible for Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek), this movie is essentially Cloverfield meets ET, Stand By Me and District 9. Set in 1979 Ohio, it starts out with a bunch of kids (including Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney and Gabriel Basso) making a zombie movie with a Super-8 camera. While filming, the friends witness a horrifying train derailment. Amid a series of unexplained events and disappearances, they discover that the crash was no accident. Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), the dad of one of the kids and designated "grown up," searches for the shocking truth behind the crash.

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Even though Super 8 seems destined to score big at the box office (it did $37 million in its first weekend), it might miss its intended mark and the reason for this might be due to a generation gap. Don't get me wrong - if I were a kid, I'd probably love this movie, but I wouldn't be old enough to compare it to the outdated and overrated ET. And I'm guessing not too many people will even remember Super 8 film. Predating video and digital, it will seem too archaic to the youth of today and only seminal for people who are old enough to remember what shooting on film was like. I still have my Super 8 editor from high-school film class, but I'm clearly not this film's target. Furthermore, the filmmakers juiced up the dialogue of this period piece with slang of the time like "mint," but then to appeal to modern-day youngsters they fell back on jargon no one used in the '70s like "dude," "awesome" and "totally." Plus, one can only take so much of these clever suburban white kids.

With special effects, suspense and cuteness intertwined, Super 8 provides the perfect Spielberg entity. I know hoards of people will be entertained out of their wits, but I miss the time when moviemaking was all about art and integrity and if it happened to make a buck, all the better. To this day, thanks to the revolutionary Star Wars-shift in cinema, comes preordained, studio-driven, market-researched junk.

Super 8


Starring Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Kyle Chandler

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Rated PG-13


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