This 2011 summer blockbuster aims to please. Don’t expect artful greatness, though. J.J. Abrams crafts a nostalgic coming-of-age story which yields to supernatural horror and mystery. In the end, Abrams gives 8 a Spielbergian ending. Super 8 certainly aims to please.
The late 1970s is superficial and the amateur film-making parts of the movie is almost irrelevant. The movie could’ve been set a decade later and it would’ve been practically the same. Grainy, yellowed film stock from a Super 8 camera is cooler than blurry video from a camcorder, but my point remains. Too bad, however, that Super 8 only showcases the chorus of ELO’s smash hit “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
For the teen film crew, the actors playing them aren’t annoying. Stand by me, though, when I say that the monster story bursts through in the 2nd half. In the end, the lead kid reasons with the alien so he doesn’t become food. Whither the adults that were trying to rescue them out of the horrible pit? Who cares!
By the way, for original aspect ratio purists, the Netflix presentation of Super 8 is in 16:9 but the movie may have been shot at 2.35:1. I noticed some ridiculously smooth pans indicative of pan-and-scan. Grrrrrrr.
Here’s NBC newest attempt at a hit: well-adjusted agrarians surviving 15 years after all the electricity is gone. It’s a good thing for Revolution that 15 years is enough time to clear out most of the suicides, riots, and catastrophes. The people are well-groomed, (mostly) scar-free, and have no visible gray hair.
Ben Matheson downloads important data just in time before the blackout begins. We won’t see how his wife, Rachel (dependable Elizabeth Mitchell), dies until flashbacks in future episodes appear. However, Ben won’t stick around in the present narrative as he dies during a squabble with he and his son, Danny, versus Captain Neville’s militia. Danny (Graham Rogers) tries and fails to be heroic and is captured twice by the Monroe militia. Daughter Charlie is left to be the plucky action girl along with Ben’s girlfriend, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips).
It can’t be a drama without a nerdy guy, Aaron, a friend of Ben’s and the third part of Charlie’s travelling party. Also, there’s Grace (Maria Howell), who provides a not-so-safe haven for Danny’s initial escape. She holds a necklace identical to Aaron’s and uses it to activate a computer and light bulb in the final scene. Grace also communicates to someone, whoever he or she really is.
In the pilot episode, Charlie and company travel to Chicago. Why is Chicago so important? I know Wrigley Field is the last Major League ballpark to install lights, but I think that’s irrelevant to the show. Oh, wait, that’s where Ben’s brother, Miles, is! Miles’ buddy at the time of the blackout is also the big bad, Marine sergeant Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons). How convenient. Anyway, Monroe is on a mission to obtain the secret to acquire a method to generate electricity.
Giancarlo Eposito‘s Captain Neville and Billy Burke‘s Miles are the key to holding this show together as both make the show livelier. At least those are two reasons Revolution‘s better than The Event. Tracy Spiridakos‘ Charlie is sweet and optimistic, but speaks some of the cheesiest lines. I’m torn whether to call J.D. Pardo‘s slithery Nate faux-Taylor Lautner or faux-Wentworth Miller.
Nate has uncertain allegiances. He finds Miles and reports his location to the militia, but he helps save Miles in a critical fight scene between the militia and Miles. There may also be a will they/won’t they romance between Nate and Charlie, but I’ll give it a few episodes before I start groaning.
When placing recent NBC dramas in tiers, Revolution may fall below the highs set by Awake, Kings, Journeyman, and the first season of Heroes. Hopefully it won’t match the median dullness that is The Event or sink below to the cheesy The Cape or the lame Heroes season…pick a number between 2 and 4.
Video of the pilot episode below. It may be country and time-restricted.