Reviews: Super 8 & Judy Moody

Super 8
Super 8

Super 8

4 stars

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

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.

Movies I’m Looking Forward to in 2011 part 2 of 4

Building on yesterday’s entry, the movies I’m looking forward to in the second quarter of 2011, April to June.

April

Super – I’m a fan of James Gunn, I like off book superhero stories (Kick Ass, Defendor) and a good strong cast including Rainn Wilson (who’s much better than what Dwight has become), Ellen Page and Nathan Fillion make this one of my most anticipated films of the year.

Scream 4 – Say what you will about Wes Craven’s last picture (the so-so at best My Soul To Take), the man’s a legend, and the Scream trilogy is one of the best and most consistent horror franchises. I’m looking forward to this with cautious optimism. Can it call back to true satirical spirit of the original, or will it cave in to the constructs of the genre like the third? We’ll find out in April.

Your Highness – I think the best way to describe this is… Why not? James Franco and Natalie Portman are terrific actors, Danny McBride has been a great second fiddle for the past few years, why not make a raunchy Medieval comedy. Could go either way, but chances are good.

May

Thor – I applaud Marvel’s ambition in rolling out their heavy weights as one big franchise. Iron Man 2 was troubled, but still good, same with The Incredible Hulk. With a strong cast, a great director, and a relative unknown in the lead, this teeters on the brink, but I think it’ll be well received.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – I think this is what the third movie should have been, instead of one film spread out over two movies. A singular, stand alone narrative. The only thing that truly worries me is Rob Marshall replacing Gore Verbinski in the director’s chair.

The Hangover II – When The Hangover came out, it was one of those films where everything came together to be a truly funny movie, that didn’t hold back, and certainly didn’t take the easy way out. Can the crew catch lightning in a bottle again? With everyone on board for a second venture, this time to Thailand, let’s hope so.

The Hangover II

June

X-Men: First Class – The third film and Origins: Wolverine were disappointments, but with fresh eyes and talent, here’s hoping they can revive the franchise. Especially with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto, respectively.

Super 8 – The new J.J. Abrams film is shrouded in mystery, but should we expect anything less from Abrams? After Cloverfield, Star Trek and “Lost,” I’ll follow him anywhere.

Cars 2Cars is perhaps my least favourite Pixar film (not that it’s bad, just… not as good) and probably the least deserving of a sequel. Should we be worried that their production slate features only one (Brave) original film, of three (the other being Monsters, Inc. 2) to be released between now and the end of 2012? I hope not, but it doesn’t inspire optimism. But Pixar has a proven track record, and they won’t jump in without making sure the story is worth it, first.

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