Super 8 Reviews
There is a fine line between plagiarism and homage, but I guess getting the person whom he's plagiarizing to produce his film saves J.J. Abrams from any charges and raises Super 8 to the level of homage. Super 8 is E.T. and The Goonies all rolled into one, but it's not just the character types and the plot that are reminiscent of Spielberg; the kid characters emerge from broken families, the adults fail to understand their children's intelligence, there are numerous shots of people looking, and even the score is similar to something John Williams would pen -- all trademarks of early Spielberg. While it could be said that Abrams's film never rises too far above imitation, that doesn't mean that the film isn't thoroughly entertaining. Even the emotional moments -- the love story between Alice and Joe, Charles's third act revelation, Joe's speech to the alien, and the third act bit with the necklace -- are all compelling and delicately handled; indeed, Abrams handles pathos with a more practiced hand than early Spielberg, whose emotional moments reeked of sentimentality.
While Joel Courtney is quite good, Elle Fanning gives the one exceptional performance; everyone else is adequate.
Overall, this is a fantastic, human, compelling science fiction film that will surely remind you of times when science fiction was about more than just explosions and special effects.
Thankfully to the kids are more than alright. They're fabulous; yearingly fresh-faced and infantile. The boys stand in tremulous awe of Elle Fanning's Alice, who has agreed to co-star in their Zombie movie. She's also a precious commodity for J.J. Abrams: the budding romance between Joe (Joel Courtney) and Alice gives the film its heartbeat.
For all its flickers of feeling, Super 8 never relinquishes its movieness. Where Spielberg mingled the extraordinary with a verifiable suburbia, Abrams works at one remove, locating the extraordinary in Spielbergia. The magic comes lovingly pre-packaged and idealised.
Abrams admits that the coming-of-age and coming-of-alien storylines were separate ideas, melded together. This bi-part origin is always palpable, unaided by Abrams' drip-feed approach turning into a cascade. Sci-fi eventually floods the town - and this film - washing away mystery and much of the charm.
Convention also rears its ugly head. Apart from a sketchy rescue mission, the kids are bystanders in a plot that has crash-landed from a different movie. No matter how much CG-alien action rolls out, we miss just watching these kids grow up. In this, at least, Abrams is true to his mentor. The humans here are the most awesome special effect.
The film is based around children making a film for a competition who then witness some sort of attack on a train, only to learn that it was containing some unknown creature that causes destruction within the town. Some of the key strengths about this film are its visual effects and tension building. The effects on the train wreck and the creature make them seem so realistic, along with the sound effects can make the audience feel like their having the same experience as the film actors. At the same time, the method of building up tension is one if the films greatest achievements, as everyone in the cinema kept jumping at very scare moment. However, the shock scenes may not get to movie goers who are used to moments like this.
There are some flaws to this film that can make it quite disappointing. The first is that the train attack was quite exaggerated, I don't expect the destruction of a train cargo to be OTT. The second flaw that there is a lack of imagination with the creature, as it looks like a mutated spider with scales. The biggest problem with this film was its ending, it felt short and unsatisfying. There could've been better ways, but it all ends with the ship taking off and slowly fading out.
Overall, Super 8 is a fantastic sci-fi with some unnoticable flaws. However, the film was too extreme for a 12A and definately isn't for young children. This film has some laughs, emotional moments and truly intense scenes that will satisfy most science-fiction movie lovers.
The film according to J.J. Abrams was homage to the producer of the film, Steven Spielberg, and his films of the 1970's ranging reverence from Spielberg's directorial films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind & E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial to Spielberg's produced films like The Goonies.
Unless the use of the preposition according to is meant to suggest that maybe, being Steven Spielberg the producer and having been reportedly on set many times ended up to determine the direction of the film, there is no excuse to use it. I mean, to me according to just sounds as something not checkable (or not that trustful) and there is no doubt that what we see here is a remake or, ok voilà, a tribute to Spielberg. This also makes me remember of some things I've read around, months ago, that now I know were nothing but repetitions but that, at that time, sounded like substantial observations. The thing is that not being into adventure fiction or into Spielberg's films, all I knew about Super 8 was what I quiclky saw in the trailer, so simple comments like "Super 8 is a mix of Goonies, E.T. and The War of the Worlds" made me think that the person had a considerable cinematographic baggage. "Naïve me". I watch the trailer again and just comes to mind an article I read years ago about those whose job is to make movie trailers: creating trailers for mediocre movies is an art. Super 8 is not a bad film, but the package is definitely better than the content.
It's the summer of 1979. A group of kids is shooting a zombie film when they witness a terrible train crash. What was supposed to be "only" an accident - even if one of large proportions - turned out to be the beginning of a chaos. Strange things start to happen and the Air Force transforms the crash site into a top secret mission. Charles has the idea of adding what their camera may have filmed during the crash to their own film. When the film is developed, they discover something scary.
For those who, like me, liked E.T. and The Goonies, is such a pleasure to (re)watch these kids and those memorable 80's. Even more pleasure is to follow a group of amazing losers shooting around with a Super 8 (There's no doubt that those Super 8mm cameras were much cooler than the digital ones we have today. As also the whole process of filming, taking the film to be developed, the exciting waiting days, etc). Even if Joe is the typical nice boy, I really liked to see Charles in the command. "The fat boy" not only doesn't bring the stereotypes of "chicken" (by the way, was "pussy" an expresson in/of the 80's?) and laziness as he is smart and creative. Another great point is the anguish of coming of age and falling in love.
I know it sounds stupid. Why would she ever like me? I haven't lean out yet. Doctor says it's going to happen.
Peter Bradshaw brought up an interesting point on how the growing intimacy between Joe and Alice, which develops from Joe pasting zombie makeup on Alice's face, has something of the Spielberg-fannishness in Kevin Williamson's Dawson's Creek. Who used to watch Dawson's Creek knows what he is talking about.
If the intimacy between Alice and Joe happens in a convincible way, without any over-sentimentalism, things start to go wrong when over-sentimentalism is put in scene with lot of explosions, last minute reconciliations and heroic acts. Now tell me that you don't know how this is going to end. (Being really honest, you know it from the early moment when the train crashes.)
A group of youngsters are out making a low budget zombie film, and, to add some porestige and production value to the effort, decide to film at a train depot one night. It just so happens however that while filming, a train carrying some special cargo derails in front of them, making for a spectacular crash. The "Thing" the train was carrying escapes, and it doesn't take long before the military arrive to deal with things and some odd activities start taking place.
For most of the running time, this film really cooks and some excellent moments are delivered up. Towards the end though, when the specifics begin to get really fleshed out, and the conclusion starts to come around, things do start to run out of steam a bit, and the strength of the script begins to weaken. That's not to say that the third act sucks, far from it, but the build up to it is so great that it is unfortunate that the great consistency doesn't hold up all the way through.
I'm not totally upset with how the film ends, but it does seem somewhat underwhelming and some of the initial impact is lost. The film does regain some points though during the end credits by showing the complete version of the film the kids are shown making during the film's running time....and the results are the best kind of cheesy awesomeness.
All in all, this film is a successful tribute to both low budget indie filmmaking and Golden Age Spielberg. Abrams really shows his love for these subjects, and it brought back tons of nostalgia for me as I sat there looking at my tv. Part of what really helps the film is that, not including Elle Fannin, almost all of the rest of the cast is made up of unknowns, all of whom are quite excellent, and display some great chemistry and chops...especially the kids, with Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths being the real standouts.
As for the music, there's no John Williams, but Abrams go to guy Michael Giacchino turns in a solid score that both works on its own terms, and smartly recalls some of the best of Williams' past works.
All in all, this is a wonderfully entertaining and outstandingly well made sci-fi romance adventure film. There's a great amount of humor, pathos, and bit of horror too, and all of it blends fairly well for the most part. The film is kinda overstuffed, and since Abrams is trying to do so much, maybe it would have been better to extend the running time, but nevertheless, this is some great stuff that you should definitely check out.