Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: J. J. Abrams
Since making that miserable journey through Star Trek and coming to the invigorated reboot I have had my eye on this movie. Not for any particular reason that had to do with the film itself but as an opportunity to bash the film’s maker, J.J. Abrams. So before even popping in the DVD I sat down an wrote out my passionate opinions on Abrams. I have strong feelings because my time is so valuable to me and he personally wasted an awful lot of it that I’ll never get back. Well not literally him personally but I hold him accountable for it, among other things. Many are the grievances I have to J.J. Abrams but after sitting down to watch this movie I found that I wholeheartedly loved it. Damn J.J. Abrams and the conflicting feelings I have right now.
This is a wonderful film that takes us back to the days of Spielberg, who served as producer on the film, and makes us…member? I of course am a big South Park fan and can’t help but consider the man behind Member Berries in the show. This movie makes me member. Not what life was like in 1979 because I was not alive but of so many films that I grew up watching from that era. Member what is was like when movies about kids were real? Member when aliens came to Earth? Oh I member. This movie stands on its own but it does do an awful lot of pulling on our nostalgic strings.
I love the kids in this film who are out to make their own movie. How seriously they are taking it and how it draws them into this greater adventure. The way the big kid directing the movie runs out looking through his hands at the scene is awesome. I don’t know who most of these kids are but they get across a wide range of emotions from enthusiasm to fear and everything in between. They remind us of that confusing period of adolescence and really hit us in the heart.
In hindsight I can’t help but see this movie as a template for Stranger Things. There are so many similarities but they were partially going for the same thing. Both trying to emulate a specific time period and Spielberg feel. Kyle Chandler plays the David Harbour part in this movie and he is nothing short of fantastic. Of course this movie came first and its influence over such a beloved show to myself as well as everybody only frustrates me more because it draws the pendulum of J.J. Abrams back to the “he’s awesome” argument. My opinion on the matter can be read at great length below and despite how great this movie is I stand firm on the matter.
I’ll concede for the time being. In the face of this terrific movie I will temporarily draw back on my argument because the lovers of J.J. Abrams win this round. I absolutely love this movie and I pride myself on accepting when I am wrong about something. I’m not going to make excuses for why it is good and try to argue that it was a fluke for Abrams. He is a very talented filmmaker and deserves plenty of credit but I don’t have to like him. Let me explain why I don’t.
Section reserved for bashing J.J. Abrams:
I will be the first to admit J.J. Abrams has talent. If nothing else what he did with Star Trek as well as this movie alone prove that but nevertheless I maintain he is overrated. When I was in college Abrams made a name for himself with his hit television show Lost. I want to say unequivocally that I think Lost was specifically the most overrated show of all time. A gimmick that strung viewers along like hanging a carrot just out of a donkey’s reach.
When I was in college I would argue with people relentlessly about the show. Some had the audacity to call it the greatest show of all time and to those people I would bestow outrage. I am a big fan of television and dramatic series and I gave Lost an honest effort. It let me down time and time again. Never answering any of the several questions it would propose in nearly every episode.
I’ll never forget once I was coming home from college to stay with a friend one night. My friend called me and asked what time I would be in. I told him I had to watch Lost and I’d hit the road right after. He responds “all you do is talk shit about that show why are you watching it?” He didn’t understand though. All week the advertisements had been on television. FOUR things were going to happen on Lost that week. I had to see it, and as I told him I had invested too much time in the show not to see something actually happen. Wanna know what happened? Not a damn thing and I just ended up getting to my friend’s house late that night.
My point is that Lost was a show for suckers. I don’t think Abrams or the writers of the show had any idea what they were doing. It was like they would toss around ideas and just go with the coolest ones with no larger plan in place. They were freestyling the whole show and everybody, myself included, was eating it up. I was frustrated with the show and I talked negatively about it at great length but I was still tuning in when it aired. Another fool in the masses that gave that ridiculous show ratings.
I eventually quit watching the show at a point when I simply couldn’t take it anymore. When I reached a point where I didn’t care why there were polar bears on this tropical island, who “the others” were no longer made any difference to me, I didn’t even care about the bizarre smoke monster that made not a bit of sense. I do remember my breaking point. It was when “the others” leader led Locke to the guy who had all the answers. The guy who would finally solve some of the mystery I had been suckered into was coming. There was an entire episode of Locke and that guy travelling the island to get to this one guy and what happened when they got there? There was a room with an empty chair, an empty f-ing chair! I patiently watched every episode for I don’t even know how many seasons and what I got for my patience was an empty chair? Who the other guy motioned to and introduced as Jacob if I’m not mistaken.
Now I’m sure there are plenty of suckers out there that would want to argue with me about this but you know what? I think as a writer, when you don’t know what you’re going to do next you put all your eggs in one basket and then get even more vague than you were before. I was done at that point, time wasted and I still to this day haven’t binged the show and gone back to see what I missed.
That settles one issue with Abrams but it doesn’t stop there. My next beef is with Star Wars The Force Awakens. I’m not really a huge Star Wars fan (it’s no accident we haven’t reviewed the movies, I don’t own them) but I’ll easily admit The Force Awakens was a totally OK movie. That’s the whole problem though. It was just an OK movie. The great and powerful J.J. Abrams ditched a Star Trek franchise he had brought back to life to make an OK version of the space rival.
I mentioned during the review of Star Trek into Darkness that I thought the movie might have been better if Abrams didn’t spy a bigger fish in the pond. Granted it was an opportunity that no sane director anywhere would have turned down but still. Abrams had started something with the new franchise of Star Trek and I for one think he belonged at the helm for the series going forward. Not just as a Producer either with one foot in the ring but behind camera where he made the magic happen in that first film.
It doesn’t really matter what I think about Abrams though and my grievances mean nothing. He’s been immensely successful despite what I think and I’m knowingly on the losing side of the argument. Nevertheless this is my space and I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for years. Screw Abrams and the horse he rode in on.
In closing for Super 8
This is a great movie. A movie that seemingly heard what I was thinking and said “oh yeah? I dare you to hate on this.” I simply cannot do that because this movie inspires too much in me. It makes me member, and I sincerely love it. It’s going to be hard for anybody that hasn’t seen it to not think it’s just a rip off of Stranger Things but you have to keep in mind this came long before. This movie is worth your time to see and I would recommend it to anybody.
NEXT MOVIE: Superbad (2007)