The other day, Paramount released new footage from the film Super 8. This scene found its way into the final cut of the film, but was pared down on the cutting room floor. In this extended clip, we see the main cast in their local 7-11 talking about the zombie film Charles (Riley Griffiths) is attempting to make. The clip really shows, at length, the stalker-type obsession Joe (Joel Courtney) has for Alice (Elle Fanning). He even wants to know what book she was reading in the silent reading section of the library; no doubt so he could read it feverishly before they set out to film at the train station and just happen to strike up a conversation with her about it. Ah, kids. Anyway, you can see the clip here.
Cool. My first and only thought about this clip: who the hell cares, really? I was hoping, when I heard of the unseen footage, that I would get something redeemable about this movie. Something that would make me feel better about shelling out ten bucks to see it. Something that would make me say, “Well, it was a good movie, they just cut out the wrong bits.” Sorry, folks, that is not the case.
Here’s the thing with Super 8 – it had such good intentions. Mystery. Intrigue. Steven Spielberg’s stamp of approval. Even halfway into the movie, I liked it. It had a cinematic feel reminiscent of old school Spielberg; kind of like a cross between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Goonies. And then the pilot took a hard nose dive which never corrected itself, and the story careened out of control until it finally burst into flames right before the end credits. It was so bad, I wanted to go back in time after the movie to an hour prior, to tell the me that hadn’t finished the movie to leave, and go get some Dairy Queen to salvage the evening.
The problem with Super 8 is the problem that many movies have nowadays with advanced graphics and CGI – as soon as you see the monster, you’re done for. Why was Jaws so brilliant? Because you never saw the shark. You knew it was there. You saw the terror it left in its wake. You heard the eerie music. But you didn’t actually see the shark. Years later, Spielberg admitted that he only did this because the shark didn’t look right. Technology had not advanced far enough to satisfy him. Little did he realize at the time, but because of his perfectionism and attention to detail, he created a cinematic feature that drove the film. Audiences were terrified of what they could not see.
This begs a very scary question, though: If Jaws were made today, and the shark could look just right, would it have been another box office bomb?
I haven’t been this let down in years. Remember the movie Signs? Back when M. Night Shyamalan wasn’t Hollywood’s laughingstock? He had just come off The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, two great films. I went into Signs thinking history would repeat itself, and I would be treated to another twisting and weaving plot that would hook me at the end. Instead, you know what I got? Really dumb aliens. And not just any aliens – aliens that were killed by water. Never mind that they had been traipsing around a planet whose atmosphere is riddled with water vapor. What if it had rained? All that terror, all that paranoia, could have been wiped out by a cool spring shower. Clever writing, that was. It just goes to show, if you don’t have a strong ending, you don’t have a strong movie.
So, seeing the monster killed it for me. But what really beat the dead horse (as in, it was already killed, yet they kept trying to kill it) was when they gave the alien feelings. Of course. A monster that has been killing maliciously for days can be talked down by a thirteen year old kid. Makes total sense.
The Labyrinth was a more believable movie than this. Maybe they should have cast David Bowie. So, better late than never, I rate this film with 2 bears. And the second bear isn’t even full-grown, it’s still just a little bear.