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Dork vs. Dork: Super 8
Dueling movie geeks return for another summer of pre-judging sci-fi and action movies

06/09/11
By Dan Szczesny dszczesny@hippopress.com



Con: Oh boy! What better way to start off (sorta) summer than with a Spielberg-produced alien movie?

While the premise (a troop of neighborhood scamps investigates a train derailment and the eerie something that escaped it)  is intriguing on the surface, there is a Seawolf class nuclear attack submarine of compromise running beneath it. If Spielberg and J.J. Abrams were dishing out The Sandlot + Predator I’d be in for a matinee, but, make no mistake, that is not what you are going to get. Super 8 will be a confusing peril-less thriller where all the action occurs slightly up and to the left of the screen and each child uses his unique talents to Goonie his way through the final reel. Which talents? Oh, the very ones that make them social outcasts as evidenced by the first third of the film. I suppose alternately they might befriend the escaped “something” and defend it from the government and its deadly walkie-talkies.

And speaking of Abrams: while he may have hit a solid double with the Star Trek reboot, let us not discount his otherwise lacking track record. He stretched two good seasons of Lost across six years, induced nationwide motion sickness with Cloverfield and unleashed Jennifer Garner’s bizarro chin on an unsuspecting audience via Alias. Frankly, he is one indomitable heroine away from Joss Whedon territory.

Oh, well, at least Super 8 will use the always beloved trope of “films about people making a film” that every Media Studies freshman can mine for a term paper.

DAN Responds
Look, I know that Super 8 isn’t the kind of Hipster Bait that would make you buy a new pair of skinny jeans and break out your urban dictionary to discover a new definition for ironic, but movies really did have plots and story and characters at one time. Look it up, it’s true. Even that late-night Fright Night series had dialogue between the guy dressed as a giant underwater squid and the cowering female in the angora sweater. Showing the Big Bad does not make the movie any better. Hitchcock knew this and even Spielberg did, once. If Abramslearns that lesson with Super 8, you can too.

Pro: Finally! We can kick off the summer with an original blockbuster that isn’t an origin story for a Marvel comic that no one reads (Thor) or everyone already knows (X-Men).

There was a time when Steven Spielberg knew how to dominate the summer without the crutches of CGI. It’s was called story- telling back then, and with J.J. Abrams aboard as writer and director, Super 8 just may be what film-lovers need to remind them of what good movies used to be. Yeah, I know, my esteemed colleague on the other side of this page is going to cry about how I’m an old man and why don’t I just pop in my old VHS videos of Fright Night features with guys in rubber monster suits. But I’ll take that, and Super 8, any day over the sound and fury signifying nothing of the Transformers set.

What’s that you say? Super 8 is just an E.T. remake? Abrams turned the rotting Star Trek franchise corpse into a vibrant and exciting new vehicle, and as for Lost, beats me what the heck was happening half the time, but at least it was engaging.

Isn’t it time for original movies? Don’t we deserve more than rehashed superheroes and Natalie Portman? Spielberg and Abrams will deliver, and just maybe we’ll remember what we’ve lost.

GLENN Responds
OK, first, I don’t think anybody in Fright Night wore a rubber monster suit; second, Steven Spielberg was also a producer on the Transformers film you so thoughtlessly loathe. You’re claiming that the first summer film of note NOT containing a flappy cape or two automatically  qualifies as some rose-tinted time machine back to the “Good Old Days” of summer films. Was the story of the Star Trek reboot really a thoughtful masterpeice? Really? ’Cause I thought it involved time-travel, Vulcans who became evil AND come from an alternate reality and dumping explosives into a black hole. Super 8? More like Super (this) Ain’t.






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