“Super Eight” Review (Spoilers)

“Super Eight” Review (Spoilers)

By Matthew Quinn
Originally Published in According to Quinn

Just saw the film Super Eight. Here are my thoughts on it.

The Good

For starters, it’s actually an original concept. It’s not a remake, it’s not a sequel, and it’s not an adaptation of something else. I took pains to see it that I didn’t take for X-Men: First Class because I wanted to encourage originality.

The scene where the train crashes while the kids are filming the movie is very well-done. In my opinion, it’s one of the best scenes in the film.

Pyromaniac Carey (Ryan Lee), was hilarious, both his own behavior and how other people talk to him. The best part of all was when the father Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler) says that he doesn’t dislike his son Joe (Joel Courtney)’s friends–although Carey does worry him.

I liked the character of Doctor Woodward (Glynn Turman), the ex-military scientist who attempts to help the creature escape. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character quite like him before. Even “Keys” from E.T. intended to study the alien, even if he didn’t want to hurt him.

The alien was well-designed. It looks like some kind of hybrid between a reptile and a giant spider. No man in a rubber suit here. Them giving it a humanoid face and facial expressions was good, even if it did look a bit like the Faun from Pan’s Labyrinth.

I liked how the alcoholism of Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard), the father of Joe’s love interest Alice (Elle Fanning) is portrayed. He rages at his daughter for sneaking out and tells her to leave him like her mother did but then when she rides off on her bike, he drives after her, screaming that he’s sorry. Then he hits a parked car and can’t immediately get out of his own.

Deputy Lamb’s resourcefulness when detained by the Air Force was impressive. He jacked an individual airman and stole his uniform, blew up a fuel truck to cover his escape, and then went around disguised as the airman to find out where his son had gone and retrieve Louis from military custody.

The scene where the human soldiers’ heavier weapons go haywire and randomly shoot at things when they approach the alien’s lair was well-done and foreshadowed by the alien’s effect on electricity and the items that run on it displayed elsewhere in the film. However, I could understand how this would affect heavier weapons like tanks since they’d be more electronic/computerized, but why are the Jeeps’ machine-guns going off randomly? I figured they, like the soldiers’ rifles (that don’t misfire), would be purely mechanical and not have any electric components to mess with.

The scene where the alien is assembling his ship out of convenient metal items and a soldier is dragged into the air by his rifle was well-done.

The kids naming the chemical company that made the zombie-poison in their movie “Romero Chemicals” was clever. For those of you not in the know, George Romero is well-known for zombie movies. He was behind the original Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, the latter of which came out in the late 1970s and would be known to the kids.

The Bad

The movie was a bit slow in parts, especially toward the middle.

Also, the scene where Joe and his father have a confrontation in which he forbids him to see Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) had some truly awful dialogue. Deputy Lamb asks his son if they’re clear and Joe says they’re not. He said they’re never clear and made a reference his mother’s death. That scene could have been much better written and had much more pathos.

It’s not clear why Alice’s father doesn’t want his daughter associating with Joe. Deputy Lamb’s hatred of Louis makes sense, as does not wanting his son to visit the home of an alcoholic. Does seeing Joe bring up the guilt? That’s what the people on TVTropes seem to think, but it’s not made especially clear.

Chunky filmmaker Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) flat-out says he has a crush on Alice but Alice only has feelings for Joe, but that’s not foreshadowed in any way. Yes, he says that’s why he wanted her in the movie, but we don’t see any crush-like behavior from Charles toward Alice after that.

Is Joe’s release of his mother’s locket when the alien ship starts pulling it in supposed to signify him getting over his mother’s death? Although he clearly misses his mother, her death does not appear to have affected him as badly as it has affected his father.

The Verdict

Creative, but a bit disappointing. I’d give it 7.5 out of 10.

As an aside, there’s a prequel comic explaining how the alien got here. Here it is.


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