J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg team up for a period piece that is very reminiscent of other Spielberg films such as “The Goonies,” “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind,” “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and some Indiana Jones and “War Of The Worlds” thrown in there as well.
“Super 8” is defiantly a nostalgia trip if anything else. Defining what it is to have young actors driving a live action, sci-fi film is pretty rare in this day in age. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams (Mison Imposble III, Star Trek, Lost) and produced by Steven Spielberg, what more can you ask for? I would say something different, if anything. Not that “Super 8” does not deliver. It does. But do not expect your mind to be blown.
The film stars first time actor Joel Courtney playing the main character, Joe Lamb whose father is a police officer (Kyle Chandler) in this 70’s suburban town. We focus in on Joe and his friends trying to write and shoot a zombie film on a super 8 camera. We follow the kids through there “pounce on each other” dialogue and funny remarks towards one another as they go from a day in the life of school, their homes and then sneaking out that same night to go shoot a late night scene at the local train station.
Elle Fanning plays Alice Dainard, a bit older than the rest of the young male driven cast her acting ability is that of her older ster’s Dakota Fanning. She is awesome in this movie and the chemistry that her and Joel Courtney have are great. There are a lot of emotional, sentimental scenes in this film that you would not expect from a young cast of kids. Joe and his father having a very heated conversation in their home over friendship and decion making as well as Alice having issues at home with her father. I felt like I never saw these emotionally, young characters written before and it was a caliber of different that I can get on board with.
It feels personal and nicely written. Abrams defiantly captures the look and feel of the summer of 79 with style. A bit too much at times. Something that I loved about “Star Trek” was Abrams sticking in these in camera lens flairs throughout the film. In this film it feels obnoxious at times and a little too much, to the point where I am more worried about what light will hit the camera and tint it over the actual scene itself. But when it is done right, it looks great. Just take the streaks of light out of the frame in the beginning of the train sequence. That is where I found it most distracting.
The film is very reminiscent of J.J. Abrams produced film “Cloverfield” which was a hand held camera film directed by Matt Reeves (Let Me In). I love that film based on the total package of its marketing, style, story and just all around mystery. Abrams approached “Super 8” in a milar fashion where you are going into the film not quite knowing what you are in for. I love that. “Super 8” is a step down from something like “Cloverfield” Something we have definatly seen before with an alien story only we are following young kids around to try and figure it out. The adventure started a bit too late in the film with an almost two hour running time, you better get comfortable and like the characters because you are going to be getting to know them for a while.
The monster in the film has a legitimately good built up. It is a tease to see an out of focus creature in early scenes of it attacking people when it has been a mystery up until it is seen late in the film. Again, perhaps too late. I felt that all that build up and suspense for the creature attacking people in tuations the first few times was good but it got to the point where I was expecting too much. I felt overall the film was an alien movie that we have seen before. Grabbing cliche tuations that feel like they are just “laking in spark” at times. There are some good scenes with the creature but the overall product of the story is something we have seen before in a film like, “”The Goonies” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”What makes it different is the creature and its degn, the kids driving the film, their performances and comedy.
I like “Super 8.” It’s a fun ride that has its moments of greatness. But it does get a bit caught up in its melodrama and cliche story line from time to time. I had a nice reminder of what Spielberg films are and what makes them great. I like Abrams spin on it but am a bit let down because I was expecting to love it. The film fits well for just being a good and solid movie. It just goes to show if Abrams and Spielberg are reaching for originality, I cannot imagine what the next two years of alien films are going to truly have in store for us on a bas of seeing something that we have never seen before.