Super 8

Super 8 (2011)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, Noah Emmerich, Ron Eldard, Gabriel Basso
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Digital Copy

With the name Steven Spielberg screaming at you first thing on the front of the Blu-Ray cover of "Super 8" you expect big things – naturally. I was really excited to give the film a look, as I had not been able to catch it in theaters. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that this is perhaps the worst movie since Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers."

The film tells the story of a group of kids, as they try to shoot a small zombie film of their own. Inadvertently, they become witness to a colossal train wreck and also happen to film the incident. When military troops descend upon their hometown, evidently trying to cover up what really happened and what cargo the train carried, the kids discover on their developed film that it is something much more dangerous and deadly anyone could have suspected. But the Jack is out of the box and not even the gun-toting, trigger happy and tough-talking army men can put it back in.

What we have here is a derivative of Steven Spielberg's own "The Goonies" – but a very poor one. It seems as if the filmmakers tried way to hard to re-capture the Goonies, down to reusing the exact same character archetypes. There's the shy but handsome hero-kid, the nerd with the right gizmo at the right time, the fat kid who talks too much and gets on everyone's nerves, the pretty girls… well you know them. They're all here.

I found this overly obvious leaning on the Goonies a little heavy-handed, but ultimately, it is the film's inane story that becomes the film's downfall. While technically at the top of the game with special effects that are wall-to-wall impressive, the film has neither soul nor a sensible story.

If you think I am just overly harsh, let me just take a look at one of the film's key scenes with you and tell you why I think it makes absolutely no sense at all – the train wreck in the film's opening.

Imagine you have a heavy freight train, weighing in the neighborhood of 6,000 tons or more, speeding down the tracks at full speed – probably about 70 mph. Along comes an ancient pickup truck and collides with the train head-on at 25 mph. What is going to happen?
The car gets squashed, dragged along the rails, cut and torn apart with little but shrapnel left in the end. While it will do some damage to the locomotive, it will take hundreds of yards for the train to come to a stop because of its momentum and the sheer weight that keeps pushing it forward. If you don't believe me, call the MythBusters for confirmation.

In this film however, the filmmakers have gone for an "alternate reality." Sadly, theirs is so far outside of "real" reality that it is laugh-inducing. Here, the locomotive explodes – diesel does not explode that easily – as do most of the box cars. But not before they all fly off the rails, hundreds of feet in the air, tumbling end over end in all directions – note "all" – exploding upon impact, and all that exactly at the impact point. If that didn't make you scratch your head, wait for this. The pickup truck that caused the collision is still intact – a little beat up, but still in one piece, and what's even more miraculous, the driver is still alive. Sitting strapped in the driver seat, snazzy, though a little groggy, able to talk and get out of the car. Never mind, that no one in the train has survived the wreck. In fact, it seems there wasn't even anyone driving the train because there is no one around, even afterwards.

No, I am not making this up – the filmmakers of "Super 8" are. No kidding.

If you think that was the end of it, think again. What happens next defies all logic and must have you rolling with belly laughs. Within two minutes of the accident, an entire convoy of military vehicles and helicopters descend upon the scene. Now, where exactly did they come from so quickly? How did they even know the train went off the rails?

One could argue they were the train's escort, since it was an Air Force train with top-secret, sensitive cargo. But hold, on, wait, no, that wouldn't work. An escort would hardly drive along the speeding train in jeeps on overland streets. And if they were an escort, what the hell were they doing two minutes behind the train? an escort would – as the word implies – escort the train, not trail it. So, not only did this super-secret, incredibly important and world-endangering sensitive train run without an escort – or any staff onboard – but again, where did these Air Force guys come from so quickly? All of them? At once? Fully prepared to deal with the situation?

Can you spell stupid?

This is only one of the film's scenes with countless more to follow in the same vein. I could go on and on like this, dissecting every minute of this movie, all the way to the unbelievably ridiculous climax. I mean in the end, the people and characters of the film went through all that for THIS? Looks like someone just ran out of ideas, pure and simple and said, "Let's just end this movie right now."

Again, if you think I am overly critical with this movie, think again. There are films where you will sometimes have to sit back and let things happen, overlook overly convenient plots points and things that are a little fat fetched. You just roll with it. And I can do that.

Sadly, "Super 8" doesn't give you that liberty, because the film literally insults your intelligence every few minutes. I don't mind a film that takes me for a ride, but I hate it if filmmakers believe I'm too stupid to realize when they slap together ideas without any sense or logic at all.

Presented in a 1080p high definition transfer, the Blu-Ray release looks spectacular. It is bold in its color richness and features incredibly deep blacks that render a very dimensional image.

The audio is also top notch, giving you a full blown, bombastic experience that will blow your mind at times with an impressive bass extension and clear high ends. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

"Super 8" is one of those films where you wonder how this ever got made. Who paid money for this production and who signed off on this harebrained script? The worst part for me personally is that the film flaunts Steven Spielberg's name front and center. I am not sure if this movie is really something anyone should be too proud of having on their resume, least of all Steven Spielberg.

Well, there you have it. Watch it or leave it, but if you ask me, just forget about it. This movie is not worth your time unless you want to create your own Mystery Science Theater experience with some friends.