It has been a movie feast recently, thanks to a visitation to a new cinema and then some tickets to see a free movie at Event Cinemas in Queensgate. And the movie of choice on which to splurge said tickets was Super 8, the Goonies of this generation.
Well, not really. The advent of computer generated imagery and the increase in production values means that this movie looks amazing. Sets are large, effects are larger, and it is a slick production with not a hair nor a line out of place. Compare that with Goonies, watched last night, where the effects were sometimes less than special, the worst (the octopus) was omitted, and on the commentary, Sean Astin noted that he had used Josh Brolin's real name in the movie - and it was still in there.
However, watching the Goonies last night reinforced what was lacking in the movie from the day before. Fun. A sense of amusement. A sense of wonder. As, despite the spectacle, Super 8 was all pretty lifeless.
There are some great actors in Super 8, all with very wide eyes, and I am a huge fan of Kyle Chandler in almost anything, so the acting itself was not a problem. And perhaps I was influenced by the fact I am now definitely not the target demographic for the film. And the fact someone left a window open in the cinema so that I was almost frozen for most of the film on one of the coldest nights we have had this winter did not help either.
But really, while the kids in Goonies were annoying, at least they were goofily annoying. The kids in Super 8 are boringly annoying, sticking to the stereotypes of the 80s without any of the retro fun (even though this is set in the very early 80s methinks) and making the kids world weary and burdened rather than, well, like kids. Sure, the Goonies had their problems, but the Super 8 brats are weighed down by them, and adds to a massive drag factor in the film.
The plot doesn't help that much. The train crash is incredibly impressive, though at the 5 minute mark I had to wonder at what speed the train was travelling and, at that speed and with that mass, how would an almost motionless pick-up truck (even an American made metal beastie) be able to do any damage - and, subsequently, how could any occupant of said pick-up truck survive. After that, the adventure plays second fiddle to a budding romance, which (for me, in this context) entirely the wrong way around. And the ending... well, it's very much a, "so, what next?" kind of anticlimax.
Luckily, what follows the end, played over the credits, is the zombie film that the kids have been working on with their Super 8 camera for the duration of the movie, and that film is huge amounts of fun. Low budget, bad dialogue, tragic acting, terrible storyline... It's like that zombie film has all the good bits of the Goonies really, and the leftovers - and the budget - went into Super 8. Shame.
Verdict: Super 8 was a disappointing coming of age movie, that probably shows my age more than anything else. 4.5 frames out of 8.