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I have to admit that I had to visit thesaurus.com to figure out what an appropriate antonym for Super was. Here are some of the choices that were thrown up: bad, inferior, second-rate, poor, contemptible, despicable, detestable, hateful, loathsome, repugnant, repulsive, shameful, unworthy, blah, bland, dull, unimportant. Unfortunately none of them accurately describe the movie I am about to review. So I had to dig deep into my intellectual reservoir to come up with …. Ordinary. Because after sitting through two hours of a special IMAX pre-screening of JJ Abrams’s much hyped Super 8 – I was left with a sense of disillusionment that usually accompanies an “earth shattering” announcement by Steve Jobs. (But that is a topic best left for another tirade.)

Ok – let’s get two things straight. One – I was really looking forward to a collaboration of Messrs Abrams & Spielberg. And that had really nothing to do with the crazy secrecy that shrouded the run-up to the release. I was sincerely looking forward to this movie. Two – Super 8 is not a terrible movie at all.

Just very ordinary.

If this is sounding different from other stuff you have read about the movie – then it is probably because I just don’t get it. That may be – but here are my 8 reasons as to why Super 8 ain’t super at all.

1. This movie has been made to bring back the spirit of adventure, camaraderie & magic, that used to infuse the great summer movies of the past. Many of which were helmed/produced by Steven Spielberg himself. I remember vividly, when I watched ET for the first time, I felt for the kid and his family and their problems and his goofy alien friend. I still do. Same goes for the cult classic “The Goonies”. The dynamics between the children, their individual characters, their personalities – were so vividly portrayed; and more importantly so deftly woven into the plotline. Unfortunately for Super 8  – though the performances are generally strong – there are too many side stories going on, almost independently from the main plot… the “tie-up” is missing. Guess it takes an auteur of Spielberg’s or Donner’s class to do this.

2. Super 8 was supposed to prove that a strong powerful summer movie exists without an heavy dependence on visual effects. Then why do I, at the end of the movie only remember the effects? (Some of which – like the train crash scene – were absolutely spectacular. But the crash itself lent nothing to the movie.)

3. Glaring plot holes tied filled up with contrivances. Like for instance – the entire US airforce couldn’t figure out that the monster was hiding in a shed at the cemetery – when a little kid (Joe) who just happens to be the main character, just happens to visit his mother’s grave and finds the “subterranean” monster. Seriously? And there are many more…

4. The build up to the monster finally gets to you. Most of the movie is over before you get a good glance at the monster. By that time you don’t care for it… and that destroys the ending.

5. Full of boring/uninteresting characters. Joe’s dad – the deputy sheriff, Joe’s girlfriend Alice’s dad who was responsible for Joe’s mother’s death (only in the end we find out he wasn’t really), the rest of the town… BORING. Damn – even the evil Air Force colonel was not really evil. When the most interesting character in the movie is a long haired dude who gets stoned and utters the only instance of the “f” word in the movie… then you know you are in trouble. Even the main character – Joe – builds train models and loves doing make up.

6. Cliche central. Alien crashes, Human captures and tortures, Alien gets pissed, Dogs desert town, Alien abducts people and hangs them upside down in a cave (why?), Little boy manages to communicate with the Alien and shows him that there is good in the world. The only thing missing was a dude listening to a walkman and missing the monster creating havoc outside. Wait a minute… that was in there too…

7. The core group of friends… their banter was neither endearing nor touching. Take the pyromaniac kid for instance. His constant references to explosions and fire eventually fizzle out after the third such reference in 10 minutes. The dialogue writing and screenplay were just plain weak. (Just compare this to the sizzling dialogue from Star Trek… this seems as if JJ penned all this while waiting for a train at Grand Central.)

8. Finally – and this is something hard to describe in a post mortem – the movie felt long. I remember seeing Avatar and realizing at the end that I just sat through three hours of a movie which felt like an hour and a half. Here, when I looked at the time, I thought my watch had stopped! This is a two hour movie that feels way longer.

So folks… in the end Super 8 disappoints. Especially if you consider the legacy it is supposed to be carrying. This is no ET. Not by a long shot. Maybe Steven Spielberg should remake this himself.

See it if you have to… but considering how expensive it is, these days to watch movies at the cinema… I would suggest you get a fourth installment of Capn Jack Sparrow instead. Atleast, you can be sure that at the very least he will be interesting and less ordinary.

Two Stars.

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