Written & Directed by J.J. Abrams
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney and Noah Emmerich
J.J. Abrams brings his keen eye for tension to this loving homage to the Spielberg sci-fi films of the late 70s, early 80s (Spielberg produces), but never forgets his modern sensibilities for spectacle (and lens flares).
It’s 1979 in a small Ohio town, and a group of middle schoolers are working on a low-budget, super 8 zombie film. They inadvertently capture a train crash that was no accident, and has the Air Force scrambling to clean it up. The aftermath tests the limits of the town, it’s overworked deputy sheriff, and soon proves to be a bigger mystery than anyone could have imagined.
It’s equal parts Close Encounters…, E.T. and Jurassic Park, injected with the Lost pilot, the Abrams produced Cloverfield and 2009’s Star Trek. It’s all the best parts of those works that Abrams brings together to tell a beautifully drawn mystery/sci-fi/adventure, with kids at the focal point. If one didn’t know any better, they’d probably think this was a Spielberg film, it is THAT lovingly crafted.
Right down to the beautiful score from Michael Giacchino. The Oscar and Emmy winner does a wonderful job with the film’s music. It is distinctly Giacchino, but you can hear the influence of John Williams in this work.
Chandler is fantastic as Deputy Lamb, put in the unlikely position of trying to save his town from the fall out of the crash, while at the same time trying to rebuild his home life and connect with his son after the tragic death of his wife.
But I can’t forget to mention the kids who carry the film. From the strong debut of Riley Chase as the film-within-the-film’s director, to Elle Fanning who’s carving out her own place in Hollywood, refusing to fall in the shadow of her sister Dakota. But the break out is reluctant hero, Joel Courtney as Deputy’s son Joe Lamb, who steps up to the challenge of the film and knocks it out of the ball park, giving one of the best young performances in recent memory.
It’s a more than capable, loving homage to the films of yester-year. Definitely worth a viewing in theatres. Added bonus: NOT 3D.
Judy Moody & The Not Bummer Summer
0 (zero) stars
Directed by John Schultz
Written by Kathy Waugh & Megan McDonald (who also wrote the source books)
Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham and Jaleel White
I could sit here and just thoroughly trash this movie, writing the scathing review that it does deserve. But it’s a kids movie that most who read this won’t even see, and I’ll never even think of again, so why waste the time and energy. It’s a sufficiently terrible movie, that in all the wrong ways mashes up Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Ramona & Beezus, both films I actually quite enjoyed, to be a bargain bin, store brand rip-off. The Go-Bots of imaginative and precocious kid protagonists. I wouldn’t dare show this film to my potential children, as I would like them to have a healthy respect for cinema. Just avoid this one, and, if you have kids, don’t even bother showing it to them. It’s not worth their time to watch it, just like it’s not worth mine to write a full review on it.