Ecstatic Days is pleased to present guest reviewer Grak-Pha Teekelp’s review of the new Spielberg-Abrams film Super 8. Teekelp is a space alien from a planet about 1,000,000 light years from here, and thus has a unique perspective on the movie. PLEASE NOTE: The review contains spoilers.
Super 8 From an “Extra-Terrestrial” Point of View
by Grak-Pha Teekelp (approximate name)
Well, um, I certainly don’t want to criticize Abrams or Spielberg, since I recognize that on your planet they’re popular filmmakers, even sometimes considered auteurs,** but while watching Super 8 me and some of the other “aliens” who sometimes drop by this solar system had a hard time suspending disbelief.
The beginning of the movie is I suppose a nice portrait of some of your larval forms bonding while trying to make their own amateur film. I was somewhat put off by the fact that these supposed friends did not assimilate each other’s bodies and excrete them afterwards to reconstitute and solidify that friendship, but maybe that’s just me. (I was impressed by the durability of these larval forms however—our offspring at that stage of development would certainly have been decapitated, squashed, or shot in any number of scenes, but your larvae just blithely soldier on.)
Anyway, once the alien comes on the scene, the movie largely became a comedy for me and my friends. First of all, the main rule of transporting hostile intelligent lifeforms, as should be obvious, is not by bucolic train ride across a couple thousand miles of terrain. The main rule is do not transport hostile intelligent lifeforms if already in a secure location, especially if their level of technology is superior to your own.
The second rule is if you are transporting a huge hostile alien via train, don’t transport in the same train the small unpainted Rubic’s Cubes that the alien needs to reconstruct their spaceship and blast off for home. Certainly, it seemed odd your military would then transport said cubes into the very town where the alien had taken refuge after its escape, even in a work of fiction.
But, really, it’s the little white cubes that had us laughing. Trust me when I say, the standard emergency kit we all carry with us includes a tiny…well, so you can understand, let’s call it a 3-D printer, and at the mental touch of a button, presto!, back-up spaceship. Certainly, no one we know of uses little blocks to construct spacecraft. Living meat ships, yes. Ships made of something akin to plastic, yes. Tiny little cubes…no. But, you know–creative license, I guess.
We’ll also ignore the unlikely shape and physical characteristics of the alien, but, please, we want you to know: you can keep creating Predator-type aliens, and even blend them with giant spiders, but there really aren’t any intelligent species with these characteristics. It was fun the first few times, but now it’s beginning to really be boring for us. (Oh, and the three telepathic species don’t have to lay claws or hands on you to read your thoughts…or to crush your brains and splatter them across the floor.)
Perhaps the biggest laughs came from the reveal of the machine the alien created to facilitate its return home, presumably some kind of launching system. This ad hoc, cobbled-together monstrosity made of all kinds of useless things really brought on the giggles. It’s somewhat endearing that you humans would think that your refrigerator motors, car engines, and go-carts would, when shoved together into a kind of dump site, help power a spaceship, but…no. Still–riotously funny!!
Um, and all those humans tied and hanging comatose upside down, as part of the alien’s machine…wow, I mean, that’s gotta be some reflexive visual half-heartedly stolen from that movie Alien, because I have to tell you: humans are even more useless as parts for spaceship launchers. As for all of the devouring of humans…nothing on your planet is palatable to anyone anywhere in the galaxy. This is the primary reason you haven’t yet been killed and eaten by some space-going species. (That, and it’s rude behavior.)
Another hoot for me personally was that Christmas tree of a spaceship at the end, because if we really used running lights like that—or any kind of illumination visible to your instruments or your eyes—you’d have known about us a whole lot sooner. No, the only alien spaceship “sightings” with any legitimacy are the ones where someone just sees a patch of darkness in the sky at night that looks a little darker than usual. Certainly, there’s no reason for the alien in the movie to draw any attention to himself.
My other objections are really nit-picky, I guess. The scenes with the tanks aren’t well-blocked and as mentioned your larvae have a lot of agency—my word, they’re more competent than the adults! And your military…if I didn’t know better I’d think they’re a bunch of idiots.
And, just from a stink-of-the-obvious objection, does the larval form at the end that lost its mother have to let go of the locket as if symbolically letting go of his mother? Does that really have to happen? Does it…reeeeeaaalllllyyyyy?
Granted, not many of your SF movies or books do much more than perplex us or give us the giggles. ET is another winner. Dune. Those Star Wars movies—wow. Just: wow.
Somebody on your world should make movies out of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels. They’re not accurate either, but the adaptations made over here have made a lot of money.
**Worth noting: Spielberg’s ranking for filmmakers in your solar system, including other civilizations that’ve died out previously on Saturn, Venus, and Mars, is a somewhat luke-warm 14,045th, right after Venusian ~~~!~**, best known for its 14-hour epic the title of which translates roughly as “Ruminations on the Underbelly of [Local Lifeform] as Considered by a Parasite.” Abrams is not yet ranked.