Entertainment Magazine

Review #3675: Super 8 (2011)

Posted on the 10 September 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Andy Spencer

Written and directed by J.J. Abrams

Far and away the most hyped film of 2011, J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8″ has, I am happy to say, lived up to its all but insurmountable mountain of buzz that it has accrued, and done so with a grace and style rarely seen in summer blockbusters.

Review #3675: Super 8 (2011)

The title comes from the old type of film found in portable video cameras, which are used by the main characters. These children, led by Elle Fanning as Alice and Joel Courtney as Joe, are filming a zombie movie for the Cleveland Super 8 Film Festival, and (as aspiring filmmakers, and as kids) want more “production value” in their film. Be careful what you wish for, right? As seen in the trailers, a pickup (somehow) derails the train they are shooting next to, and from the wreckage emerges…something I won’t go into any more detail about (for fear of spoiling this movie for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it).

It is from here that Abrams truly shows his mastery of storytelling. The movie follows Joe as we see him in a variety of events and emotions: grief, terror, love, wonder. All of these things are what make “Super 8″ the best film of 2011 so far, and how they fit in so well with the suspense, and later on, effects-driven action. Yet, through all the explosions, killings, and mysteries surrounding the town of Lillian and its occurrences, Abrams manages to keep the film feeling distinctly human, and it is this fact that allows you to empathize with every major character, as each one is portrayed as their own human being, complete with inner light and inherent flaws that lie within us all.

When this movie decides to bring the thing into the picture it does so in a very similar manner to the Abrams-produced “Cloverfield”, showing a bit at a time, and almost never giving you a good look at it. And when you do finally see it, it is always fleeting. Is this an attempt to heighten the mystery, or to keep people focused on the more worldly characters? I decided the answer was the former, but regardless, whichever you choose, you will leave satisfied.

There seems to be a popular sentiment that “Super 8″ packs too many homages to older films into its 112 minute runtime. I caught some subtle but noticeable references to “E.T.”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and “Night of the Living Dead”, among a few others. However, unlike other reviewers, I do not feel like these little things detracted from the film. Nor do I feel like they added to it; Abrams is a protege of Spielberg, and thusly, would probably create some shotsthat are so similar to ones found in some of Spielberg’s earlier classics.

Like Spielberg, Abrams manages to deftly weave two vastly different types of storylines into one extremely clever hybrid, with the strengths of both, and weaknesses of neither. If you are a fan of sci-fi thrillers, or of dramas that focus on the ever-changing “human element,” you owe it to yourself to experience this incredibly unique thrill ride for yourself. You should not be disappointed.

Score: 10/10

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