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Film has "Super” cast

Movie review
By: Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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The tricky part of making a film that is heavily influenced by classic movies is that it can come off smelling like a cheap mockery if the quality doesn’t match the inspiration. “Super 8” is a well-intentioned homage to classic Steven Spielberg movies such as “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” But unlike those films, “Super 8” never makes up its mind as to what kind of film it wants to be. At the core, it’s a film about Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), a kid who recently lost his mother and is coping by making a zombie movie with his friends and falling in love with the lead actress, Alice (Elle Fanning). However, there are also elements of a misunderstood monster movie that never quite jells with what the kids are doing. J.J. Abrams (“Star Trek,” “Mission: Impossible III”) tries to use techniques that worked well for Spielberg but don’t necessarily work the same in “Super 8.” For instance, hiding the shark in “Jaws” builds tension and makes the attacks even scarier. However, hiding the monster in “Super 8” makes it really hard to empathize with a creature we’ve never seen. As with Abrams’ previous effort, “Star Trek;” the saving grace of “Super 8” is the cast. The kids are all note perfect for the movie and they speak and act like real children do. A few scenes are also genuinely thrilling, such as the train crash in the first act and various monster attacks throughout the film. Abrams is a competent director on an upward trajectory but has yet to find the material that will elevate him into the elite tier of directors he so clearly covets. “Super 8” may be a love-letter to everything having to do with classic Spielberg but it simply can’t hold a candle next to the director’s all-time-great movies. Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer. ---------- Super 8 Directed by J.J. Abrams Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Kyle Chandler Rating: Three out of five stars