|I'd never seen this poster before. Cool.|
It does! Welcome back to the Tagline, where I am constantly feeling like I already wrote this review, but I find no archive of it, leading me to believe that I experience an alternate version of my blog as I sleep. Anyway, last time I savagely attacked Cloverfield, much as the monster attacked New York, and Hud attacked human decency. This was a movie produced by J.J. Abrams, about a big monster killing people. That being said, J.J. didn't write it, and he didn't direct it, so it doesn't seem fair to stick him with all the blame. For the sake of fairness, I thought I would give him a fair shake and talk about Super 8, another movie where some people have a camera and film a monster, and then stuff happens. Super 8 is a very different movie though. For starters, it doesn't use a found footage contrivance, and so at times the characters can not have cameras without it ending the movie. Also, Hud is not in the movie, and that makes it a lot better overall. If you are wondering, it may be several more days before I stop commenting about what an unbelievable chode Hud is. I'll try to reign it in but I can't make any promises. Anyway, Super 8 takes place in the 70s, and follows a group of kids who are trying to film a low budget zombie movie. This effort is spearheaded by the group's fledgling film buff Charles, who wants to film a shot at a train station in town, to add authenticity to a scene in the film. They want to get a shot just as a train is coming through. When they are filming this shot, a truck is driven onto the tracks, causing the train to derail and explode and almost kill them all. They discover that the man driving the truck was their biology teacher, who warns them to get scarce. They do right before a bunch of government vehicles swarm the scene.
|Always a good bed to stop and|
About that time, stuff starts getting weird in town. All the dogs run away, electronics start disappearing... stuff gets weird. It begins to become clear that something was on the train, and when Charles and his friend Joe examine their footage, they discover that some sort of large creature escaped the train. Shortly after the government sweeps in to begin evacuating the residents of the town. Joe discovers their friend Alice is missing, having possibly been kidnapped by the creature. Attempting to evade being corralled away from town, Joe, Charles, and their two friends Martin and Cary attempt to find where the alien is hiding and rescue her.
|Okay so noticing they make this face a lot apparently.|
The movie unfolds as a kind of alien mystery, and I can enumerate now the things it does wrong that maybe other movies in similar genres (COUGH CLOVERFIELD) didn't so so well, even though they share some similar components. For starters, replace the cast of 20-something assholes who you don't get to know very well. One of the limitations of found footage is that it can be hard to set up establishing scenes that reveal things about characters without it seeming really obvious and contrived (like the establishing morning after shot at the beginning of Cloverfield). So all I had was the vague sense that the characters were probably douches. Super 8's cast is made of mostly likable pre-teens, so any possibly drama is relatively subdued. Angst is at an all-time low, and I can appreciate that.
|A chubby kid acts important. It's okay though.|
It's also worth noting that while Joe and friends go to save their friend Alice, they can be reasonably sure that she hasn't been trampled by a 40 story tall monstrosity. They are trying to find their friend who's missing. Sure stuff is getting scary, but it isn't like they're literally chasing after an impervious monster smashing tanks and skyscrapers. Also when they find Alice, she hasn't been impaled, and she doesn't run away across New York while bleeding from a chest wound.
|Hey what's that in the background.|
Not being found footage, the movie also benefits from things like soundtrack, scene framing, better dialogue, MUCH better dialogue, dialogue you can hear, and dialogue that is not words repeated 2-4 times at once. It isn't that you can't make a good found footage movie, I just think that using that format makes it hard to tell a story well. For a good example actually, next week I think I will talk about Chronicle! That seems like a good idea right?
That's it for tonight! Join me next week when I will talk about a cool movie where guys get superpowers and die.