(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)
Why I added it to my queue: Because this is the latest by the seemingly untouchable J.J. Abrams, a deliberate homage to the Steven Spielberg films of the early '80s produced by no less than Spielberg himself; and because I've always been curious to know why this nonetheless landed with such a bored thud among the general audience when first released in theaters this summer.
The reality: Oh, did I say 'homage?' Perhaps that's better expressed as 'overly sentimental, nearly shot-for-shot repeat of a typical early Spielberg film, producing a deflated sense of wonder despite contemporary special effects, pretty much the opposite of what was promised.' C'mon, Abrams, seriously! The creator of Lost and Alias is better than this, and the whole thing ends up feeling like some vaguely conceptualized vanity project that Abrams has probably been carrying around in the back of his head for thirty years, slapped together with leftover footage from Cloverfield and with the audience not really taken into consideration at all. One of those annoying Hollywood '70s period films whose every single throwaway detail screams as loudly as it can, "I'M A PROP IN AN ANNOYING HOLLYWOOD '70S PERIOD FILM!!!," this feels more like Abrams was trying to get something out of his system than to make a truly great movie; and now that he does have it out of his system, here's hoping that he can quickly put this mere fluff of a film behind him and again get to something a lot meatier.
Strangest piece of trivia: The super-8 movie our teen heroes make was actually shot by Abrams on super-8 film and old '70s cameras.
Worth your time? No