Skip to comments.Super 8: A Return to Vintage Spielberg?
Posted on 06/10/2011 9:51:53 AM PDT by Kaslin
The influence of Spielberg, who has blessed this project with his producer's credit, is all over every frame of this delightful movie.
Super 8 isnt quite up to the level of Steven Spielbergs finest early-80s work — but its surprisingly close, a sci-fi movie with heart that is thrillingly directed by Spielberg worshipper J.J. Abrams. Is Abrams playing God? As Steve Martin put it, when his mad-scientist character was accused of this in The Man with Two Brains, Somebody has to! In a Hollywood thats becoming increasingly reliant on special effects at the expense of story — of wowing you without bothering to make you care — somebody has to remind us how the master used to do it.
The influence of Spielberg, who has blessed this project by taking a producer credit on it, is all over every frame of this delightful combination sci-fi extravaganza and childhood fable about five teen friends who are making a zombie movie in the late 1970s in an Ohio steel town with a then-current Super 8 camera.
The movie immediately gets you in the throat without a word being spoken, as we learn of the death of a mom and steel worker who was crushed to death in an accident, leaving her cop husband (Kyle Chandler, who has proven himself one of TVs all-time best dads in Friday Night Lights) and a stricken but resilient son named Joe (a very impressive Joel Courteney). At the moms wake, the adults are full of dread but even here the kids show imagination, spark, and ambition, neatly displaying how youth leads the way.
Joes chubby friend Charles (Riley Griffiths) is determined to carry on directing a monster movie for which he has managed to nab the schools ruling queen bee Alice (Elle Fanning, who like her older sister Dakota is a natural) as lead actress. Joe, who is serving as a makeup and special effects man on the project, is awed by the coup of securing Alice, who is so cool she even agrees to drive the kids to their shooting locations even though she is too young to have a license. But her father Mr. Dainard (Ron Eldard) is a drunk, a dismal loner and a community pariah. Joes father warns him to have nothing to do with Mr. Dainard or his daughter.
Still, the kids carry on with their Super 8 movie, the filming of which brings them to a close encounter of a very weird kind. A train wreck deliberately caused by the kids most brilliant teacher (Glynn Turman) releases hundreds of strange metal blocks the size of Rubiks Cubes — and draws the interest of the Air Force, which immediately takes over security in the area and starts behaving suspiciously, even trying to trace the tire tracks of a car they learn was in the area at the same time as the crash. This car is the one that Alice and the five younger kids had used.
The way the quick-thinking kids always stay one step ahead of the slightly malevolent and cement-footed adults is pure Spielberg, as are the many fluid tracking shots and crane shots that seem especially gorgeous after a decade of shaky-cam movies. But whats best about Super 8 is how the kids seem like you remember you and your friends being — they arent sentimentalized, they arent superheroes, they arent an excuse for pandering to the youth in the audience. Theyre just smart, resourceful, and slightly obsessed. One kid, for instance, is a budding demolitions expert who is always dying to show you his backpack full of illicit cherry bombs and M-80s.
If anything, the movie is even better with character development than it is with the sci-fi story that the kids gradually piece together and which eventually takes over the final act, with a series of thundering, effects-laden action scenes. These are rousing enough, but they are similar to the climaxes of other movies (the closing minutes virtually restage a famous finale from the same period that Super 8 is set in).
The characters and relationships, on the other hand, are completely charming — the way Alice and Joe get to know each other, the way Alices father is slowly revealed to be more than the burned-out loser he appears to be, and especially the way the kids superficially silly zombie movie unveils the early stages of real talent being developed. Charles, the director, keeps muttering, production values, production values — which he cant afford but which he is correct in believing will add heft to his movie. Moreover, Charles knows something a lot of famous Hollywood directors dont — that its the quiet love scenes that make the action scenes pop. This is a lot of wisdom for a 12-year-old, a knowledge of craft that is absent from most of the Pirates and Transformers movies. What makes Super 8 so exciting, then, is that it gives us a glimpse of how creativity is born and how it is developed — with determination, hard work, and a touch of obsession.
There’s websites with Photoshopped pictures of movie posters, with what they would say if they were honest, and Super 8 was “ET with lens flare.”
To paraphrase the latest South Park:
Coming this June *fart, fart* Steven Spielberg’s *fart* who cares? *fart, fart* You’ll pay to see it. Screw you! *fart, fart*
It sounds like a nice movie, but it also sounds like Spielberg is doing the same things I’ve always had a problem with him with -
1) He always has these smart aleck, obnoxious, foul mouthed kids making up for the fact that most adults are stupid, dumb, and caught up in old fashioned warnings and stereotypes.
2) Aliens are really there, and they are God.
I’ll give it a try, but I’m sure the kids in it are going to make me crazy.
Spielberg did not direct this.
I am looking forward to this movie and Cowboys & Aliens.
Does it have the absurdly obvious “Now you’re supposed to cry” moment? Spielberg has the emotional subtlety of a sledge hammer. Think about E.T., Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List and The Color Purple.
I have to give Spielberg credit though, Tiny Toons Adventures ruled, especially the movie How I Spent My Vacation.
I’ll wait for the 3rd Digitally remastered version.....LOL
I was very impressed with JJ Abrams' version of Star Trek, so I was eager to see this film. It isn't a terrible film, but it wasn't (IMHO) anything special. I'm glad I got the matinee discount.
*** Spoiler Alert ***
It's time for Abrams to give up on his obsession with lens flair. Several times, I couldn't tell if what I was seeing was supposed to be some real object in the sky, or just ridiculously overdone lens flair. And, it's time for him to come up with a new monster. This one was effectively the same one he used in Cloverfield and Star Trek.
Close Encounters, E.T. all mashed together. But no "It's nothing like that, Penis Breath!" Darn, disappointed, lol
Should I wait several months until it comes to my local $3 theater?
I think I would have enjoyed this motion picture a lot more if I had seen it at night during prime time instead of the morning. Super 8 is one of those films that are meant to be seen during certain hours of the day. Attack of the Block is another example of this type for me. A film like Mr. Popper’s Penguins could be enjoyed anytime during the day.
As for as the motion picture’s production, it is well made. Super 8 is good and better than the average Hollywood film.
Just want to go on record as saying Super 8 was way better than ET.
I saw it only after reading vitriol posted about it here on FR. I’ve got to say that the poster of said vitriol was doing an awful lot of projection (mostly along the lines of “it made the military into the bad guys!!!!!!” and “it was just a retread of ET in every way”) and I don’t mean AV. It was a fun movie, far better than Transformers and others we’ve seen recently. Although Captain America was fun and held my interest, Super 8 had more emotional depth, probably because it, unlike Captain America, was more plausible. I can imagine someone from elsewhere getting stranded here (a la District 9) and getting screwed over by human authorities trying to expropriate alien technology.
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