118. Super 8
I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I have to say it again. Steven Spielberg is my idol. I’ve been a fan of him since fourth grade and he is a large reason as to why I’m in love with movies and would someday love to make them. This isn’t technically his film, but it might as well be. Most of the stuff he produces or is involved in somehow is usually good.
I enjoy J.J. Abrams work. He has some good shit. When I heard that he was “teaming up” with Spielberg I almost shit myself. I’ve been waiting for Super 8 for ages, especially once I learned that Spielberg was a big influence.
The movie takes place in the summer of ’79 in a small town in Ohio (represent!). The main characters are kids in junior high school. Alice may actually be in high school, but I’m not sure. Regardless they are not sexy teenagers. They are nerds. Dorks. Geeks. They are making a movie together which kinda propels their actions throughout the movie and if you stick around for the end credits you get to see their completed film which was pretty neat.
So while they are filming a train is derailed and they are in the middle of this accident. From that point on the military gets involved and things get weird. Dogs and people go missing. Various appliances just disappear, etc. Of course there is an alien in there as well.
Let us start off with the cast. The kids were amazing. I liked how they looked dorky and weren’t “adult teens.” They looked like awkward middle school kids and acted like it. Their dialogue was amazing in this movie. They seemed like a realistic depiction of some middle school guys today at least. They also were incredibly funny and were the source of constant humor throughout the film. Elle Fanning was incredibly good, especially here little zombie movie.
The adults were ok, but they aren’t the focus of the film. Kyle Chandler does a decent job as the brooding Deputy Sheriff and distant/struggling father of Joey. Rob Eldard also did a good job as Alice’s drunken father. It actually would have been cool to see more of those two together, but that would have been a different movie. Noah Emmerich was pretty good as the military dick leading things.
There are a number of visual aspects that are similar to Abrams other work. The lens flares appear here and I actually enjoy them, but I did find a few spots where the flares were unnecessary. The alien is good. Better than the Cloverfield alien/monster in my opinion. It isn’t frightening to look at and I don’t think it needs to be. Spielberg’s creatures aren’t meant to be a menace to humans. Humans incite that problem and Abrams uses that here. The creature is frightening visually to an extent, but only because he is on the offense.
Abrams uses some Spielberg visuals, but the biggest thing from Spielberg can be found in the story itself. The themes and other common elements to Spielberg’s work is what makes this movie.
-The use of a kid as the main protagonist and the character we connect with the most. They also are usually the one who comes in contact with the “alien/creature” at some point.
-Bad family/parent-child relations. Autobiographical of Spielberg’s own childhood. The parents are usually not together and the father is usually a disgruntled man who can’t connect with his son.
-Coming in contact with aliens/special creatures or beings. (dinosaurs, odd shark, aliens, robots, etc.)
-The alien being is mistreated by humans. We are hostile towards them, showing how cruel we really are. That and just general human cruelty and ignorance.
-Use of everyday people as protagonists.
-Use of a non-contemporary time period.
-Some “secret” government force as an antagonist.
I’m sure there are other references and themes, but those are the ones of the top of my head. It’s basically Spielberg’s movie in that way and Abrams does a wonderfully job replicating Spielberg’s work in both the story and visually. I’m sure you could fool some people into believing Spielberg directed the film.
There are also numerous references to other persons and items of pop-culture at the time. The kids have posters of NASA space shuttles and the movie posters from Star Wars, Halloween, and Dawn of the Dead (I initially though it was Night of the Living Dead, but others have said otherwise). They are cool things to see and also really help to se the time period which was done excellently.
My first reaction was that this isn’t a movie for kids to see. Thinking about it now, I think it is ok. Not little little kids though. Then again kids may not get the humor, which is why I’d be ok with them seeing it. It really isn’t gruesome or violent in any extreme.
This movie has a lot of humor and you should be laughing the entire movie. The crowd I was with did. It isn’t a huge sci-fi nerdfest nor is it nonstop useless action. It isn’t a particularly frightening movie, but there is excellent suspense to keep you engrossed in what is going on.
I can’t express how much I loved this movie. Things start moving right off the bat and never slow down. It’s not necessarily on the edge of your seat the entire movie stuff, but you don’t get a dull moment. For me this movie only inspires me to continue trying to enter the world of film as this is the kind of film I love to see being made and something I would love to try and make.
I want to see this four more times, but I may not be able to make it. I’m defiantly going to buy it as soon as I am able.
Again stick around for the credits, because you see the final 8mm film the kids make.