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What to See, What to Skip: New Reviews This Week

Indiewire By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire June 10, 2011 at 5:11AM

With the brouhaha surrounding the long-awaited "Super 8," the acclaimed Norwegian monster movie "The Troll Hunter," and the slew of new docs opening, it's unlikely you'll skip this weekend's slate of new releases. Need some box office guidance? Check out the new reviews posted this week on indieWIRE and the iW blog network...
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"Super 8"

With the brouhaha surrounding the long-awaited "Super 8," the acclaimed Norwegian monster movie "The Troll Hunter," and the slew of new docs opening, it's unlikely you'll skip this weekend's slate of new releases. Need some box office guidance? Check out the new reviews posted this week on indieWIRE and the iW blog network...

"Super 8"

indieWIRE Review - B+
"JJ Abrams has turned Coppola’s forecast into plot, if not practice: “Super 8” is literally about a fat kid in Ohio making a movie. However, it uses that grain of inspiration to create an enjoyable sci-fi nostalgia trip with the help of a familiar name: Steven Spielberg, Abrams’ executive producer and the de facto cinematic deity whose filmmaking bible defines the movie’s chief appeal. “Super 8” amounts to Spielbergian porn, and unlike another critic, I mean that as a compliment."

The Playlist Review - A
"While there is so much to love about this movie, there are points when the multiple story threads seem hurried, particularly in a clunky scene that goes from climactic confession to terribly threatening without much finesse. And the amount of sentimentality, while mostly a welcome by-product of nostalgia, is taken occasionally over the edge by the recurring appearance of the deceased Ms. Lamb’s locket which becomes a rather heavy-handed metaphor we could have done without. But ultimately these are trifles in what to us is a hugely successful addition to the Summer Blockbuster genre."

Leonard Maltin Review
"If you’re wondering what’s missing from so many big-budget, effects-driven Hollywood movies, the answer lies in J.J. Abrams’ Super 8: heart and passion. What’s happening onscreen really matters to the young people in the story—so it matters to us, too. Moreover, there’s no cynicism or aloofness in these characters or the way they’re depicted. Just look at the face of newcomer Joel Courtney, who plays the leading role in Super 8, and you see the kind of guileless all-American boy we don’t find too often in contemporary films."

Spout Review
"Everything from the plot and characters of the film to the art direction and the music send you back 40 years to a golden age of sci-fi and Spielbergian magic. It’s absolutely dripping with ecstatic fond memories of childhood inspiration."

Caryn James Review
"Mission Impossible III and Star Trek show us that Abrams knows how to make and remake genre movies, but only that last sequence has the flash of freshness that gives Super 8 a life of its own."

"The Trip"

indieWIRE Review - B+
"The incredible thing about “The Trip,” Michael Winterbottom’s road trip comedy featuring the comedic stylings of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, is that it gets away with a lot by doing very little. Reprising the semi-fictionalized versions of themselves they played in Winterbottom’s 2006 “Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” Coogan and Brydon endlessly reveal their finest impressions, trade barbs and yammer on about the highs and lows of show business."

The Playlist Review - B
"Edited down from a BBC TV sitcom comprised of six episodes at 30 minutes a piece, Michael Winterbottom‘s condensed, greatest-hits version of “The Trip” for U.S. audiences runs a brisk 70 minutes. Slight, and simultaneously very funny with deeper undertones than one would expect, it manages to still feel like a stand-alone film and not just the best parts of a longer TV show."

Leonard Maltin Review
"'I went into the film with a residual fondness for its two stars, who improvised most of their dialogue, so I can’t predict how someone who’s never been exposed to them will respond. But if you’re at all an Anglophile, or have a taste for show business chatter, I think you’re on the right track."

Spout Review
"The more I think about it the more I realize that two of my favorite films of the year, “Trollhunter” and “The Trip,” have an awful lot in common. True, Coogan and his co-star Rob Brydon don’t look all that much like legendary Norwegian monsters, or even the gruff and scruffy woodsman that keeps them in line. Yet each film speaks with an oddly melancholy whimsy that turns out to be quite compelling."

"The Troll Hunter"

indieWIRE Review - A
"Riffing on the DIY monster-movie approach of “Cloverfield” and the absurd supernatural premise of “Ghostbusters,” Norwegian mockumentary “The Troll Hunter” offers high-caliber entertainment despite a low-budget production. The shaky camera suggests “The Blair Witch Project,” but writer-director Andre Ovredal’s impressive array of fantastical creatures, and the film itself, plays more like “Jurassic Park.”"

The Playlist Review - B
"If you’re one of the countless people that saw “Cloverfield” but felt there just weren’t enough trolls, it appears that your needs have been catered to. “Trollhunter” is the latest in the Found Monster Footage genre, a weirdly-specific niche that accommodates the necessity of shooting cheaply with digital video and not showing much of the beast."

Spout Review
"There are obvious comparisons to be made between “Trollhunter,” a Norwegian found-footage-style mockumentary, and films like “Blair Witch Project” and “Cloverfield” (check out Eric Kohn’s rave review). But don’t let the thinly treading trend worry you, because this one is easily the most entertaining of the bunch."

"One Lucky Elephant"

indieWIRE Review - B+
"Covering an impressive 10-year span, the movie examines the man-beast dynamic as Balding seeks a better home for Flora outside the ring. However, Leeman leaves it unclear whether Balding or Flora require more cautious treatment: Their plight turns a nature movie into a story of family crisis."

Spout Review
"I still wouldn’t mind so much if “One Lucky Elephant” wasn’t so highly praised by everyone else. It shows how low the critical standards for documentary are lately."

"Bobby Fischer Against The World

indieWIRE Review - B
"His tragic story—from a beloved American icon to an embarrassing, blowhard bigot—is already well documented, but director Liz Garbus breathes new life into it with “Bobby Fischer Against The World,” the most compelling chess documentary you’re ever likely to see."

Spout Review
"It definitely feels like a film where the filmmaker got an idea to make a doc about this intriguing person who had just recently died and then went to town researching him and pouring over whatever footage and photographs of him she could get a hold of. What’s on screen is just what Garbus has learned and can now share with us as a proxy (with help from the interviewed experts). It’s all as interesting as a report of that kind sounds like, but nothing more."

"Queen of the Sun"

Spout Review
"I could have been bored throughout “Queen,” and I must admit that the repeated information and settings truly did leave me frustratingly antsy often. Yet Siegel is also interested in the idea of the honeybee and what cultural attention we’ve given it."

"Raindeerspotting"

Spout Review
"It’s the kind of doc that I can’t entirely get behind ethically, at least as far as the questions I still have about the making of the film. But I can’t help but recommend it very highly, in large part because of those questions it leaves you with. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now."

[Compiled by Austin Dale.]

This article is related to: What to See