|Super 8 movie poster, image property of Paramount and Amblin.|
Super 8 AWESOME!
Before seeing J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 this afternoon I had heard it called “the E.T. of our generation” or “a cross between Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” After seeing it, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s a good thing.
The trailers do a really good job of keeping a lot of the events a mystery, so I won’t give too much of the plot away. It’s a small town in 1979. Our hero is a young middle schooler named Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) whose mother has recently died in an unexplained accident at the factory where she worked. Joe and his father Deputy Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler) seem unable to communicate with one another and neither one has fully gotten over the loss of their wife and mother. Jack focuses mostly on his job. Joe makes monster movies with his friends.
One night Joe and his friends sneak out with Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) to go shoot a scene for the zombie movie they are working on. They witness a horrible train accident when a white pickup drives directly into the path of a military train. From then on, things just get weirder and weirder and the kids realize that they are part of something much more real than their amateur horror flick. The government gets involved, people and pets are disappearing, and nobody seems to have any answers. Amidst all of the crisis friendships are tested, families are strengthened and pasts are forgiven.
What I loved most about this movie was its keen focus on its characters. Oftentimes in these big-budget sci-fi thrillers we are only treated to big explosions and action—visual eye candy and nothing more. Here the special effects are handled with restraint. The creature is only shown when necessary, maintaining a lot of the mystery and reminding us that the film is less about the monster and more about its victims. It’s about Joe and Alice’s blooming relationship—full of raw emotion and vulnerability. It’s about Jack’s inability to let go. It’s about old enemies coming together. It’s about kids having an adventure. It’s about an alien wanting to go home.
It really is the E.T. of this generation.
17 Miracles AVERAGE
Jasen Wade stars as Levi Savage, a Mormon man who joins the Willie Handcart Company and journeys through the harsh, cold winter to the Salt Lake Valley. The film by LDS director T.C. Christensen chronicles the trials of the early Mormon pioneers and some of the miraculous events that the real Levi Savage recorded in his journals. The movie isn’t necessarily very plot-driven—most of the events and characters are unrelated to each other—but it paints a fairly vivid portrait of the pioneers’ struggles and faith. Although some of the miracles were cheesy, overall I was impressed with the quality of this obscure, low-budget movie.
The Hangover Part II AWFUL
Ed Helms plays Stu, a man getting married in Thailand who brings his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Allan (Zach Galifianakis) along with him as his groomsmen. A sequel to 2009’s hilarious drunken misadventure The Hangover, this movie also has the boys waking up without a clue as to what they did the night before, desperately trying to piece things together before the wedding ceremony. What makes this movie different than the first is that it’s not funny. It follows the exact same story of the first film—almost scene for scene—making all of its gags unoriginal and uninspired. You can’t laugh at a joke when the punch line has already been given away…
Soul Surfer AVERAGE
AnnaSophia Robb plays Bethany Hamilton, a teenage surfer who eats, sleeps and breathes the sport. When she loses an arm in a horrific shark attack, she fears that she might never be able to surf again. But with her supportive parents (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt) and church leader (Carrie Underwood) coupled with sheer determination she’s able to get back into the water and surf again. This movie was a little heavy-handed with the inspiring messages and Christian themes, but all in all it was much better than I expected. Although Underwood should stick to singing and leave the acting to the actors, the performances from Robb, Quaid and Hunt were very well done.
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