June 13, 2011
Weekend In Reviews
Super 8 - Going into Super 8, my expectations were very high. I didn't just want to like it, I wanted to love it. I expected it to be awesome. The months-long advertising campaign made sure I didn't know exactly what it was about so my expectations were based almost entirely on my affection for JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg and their past works. I knew that the title referred to film. I'd heard there was an alien, I knew Kyle Chandler was in it and I knew there were kids and a train. (Side note: I much prefer that method of advertising to the "put all the good scenes in the trailer so no one ever has to bother seeing the movie" method.)
I would say that overall, the movie met and, in some ways, exceeded my expectations. I appreciated the time spent developing the characters and their relationships so that it wasn't just an alien invasion movie full of one-dimensional caricatures. Including elements of a family drama in an action-adventure movie helped me feel invested in what happened to the people and the town and even the alien.
Newcomer Joel Courtney was outstanding in the role of Joe Lamb. When he and Kyle Chandler squared off in their heartbreaking father/son argument about Joe staying away from Alice and her father, he matched Chandler every step of the way for emotional resonance. Elle Fanning continues to be amazing in this movie as she and her sister are in every movie ever. In fact, the movie rests primarily on the shoulders of a bunch of kids and none of them disappoint. They are sweet, funny, charming, irritating, likable kids that you believe could and do exist.
The movie does have it's flaws - I didn't love the slightly saccharine confrontation between Joe and the alien. Since we were told that he communicated telepathically through touch I would have much preferred that Abrams let Joe's face do the heavy lifting instead of subjecting us to a soliloquy that made it all feel a little too neat and tidy. I also could have done without the final bit with the necklace which was both heavy-handed and annoying as we watched countless other metal objects NOT get sucked up to the water tower while the necklace was pulled right out of Joe's pocket. While I mostly loved the look of the film, I did find the lens flares a bit distracting as I kept thinking "boy, JJ really loves his flares doesn't he?" Still, those quibbles are minor and represent maybe 10 minutes of a 2 hour movie.
In the end this movie was like The Goonies, October Sky and E.T. all rolled into one, fun, exciting, beautiful movie that I highly recommend everyone go see.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer - My roommate, Kelly, decided to watch the entire run of Buffy The Vampire Slayer for the first time as her summer project. Naturally, I'm watching with her because it's not like Buffy can be on in my house and I'll just ignore it.
We watched Season 1 and the first 15 episodes of Season 2 over the weekend. She enjoyed the first season well enough though she found it mostly lacking in emotional heft but I assured her that the overall quality of the show improved significantly by the second season and she now agrees that the stories and the characters are truly engaging.
I'm remembering some of the things I really loved about the show and some of the things that I always forget I found annoying. Like Kendra's accent, Buffy's micro-minis, Willow's endless supply of tights and old-lady skirts, and the seriously ugly shoes that we wore in the 90s. But there's no end to the list of things I love about the show and since we're nearing the third season which is my very favorite, I expect to spend a great deal of the next week happy as a clam.