Saturday, 8 October 2011

Super 8

Well, a week after Matthew Vaughn's X-cellent X-Men reboot/prequel, comes a sci-fi blockbuster that's even better: J.J. Abrams' Spielbergian, nostalgic throwback Super 8, which, in this season of pirates, superheroes and giant robots, is so fresh, original, and downright brilliant. So much so, that its the best film of the year so far, and one of the best blockbusters I've seen for quite sometime. What makes Super 8 work, is the fact that it remains real, heartfelt and likable without being overshadowed by the spectacular action sequences and effects.

I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I don't want to spoil it for anybody. But let's just say that it's set in 1979, and focuses on a group of kids. While they are filming for a movie that they're making with their Super 8 camera, a massive train crash occurs. Before too long, people of the local towns, as well as the pets of people, start to disappear through a series of mysterious events.

While it may not sound like too much on paper, Abrams makes this modestly intriguing premise into a propulsive, exciting and entertaining sci-fi thriller. I've always been a fan of Abrams' work, from the underrated Mission: Impossible III, to the fantastic Star Trek. Many may draw comparisons to Cloverfield, which Abrams himself produced, and those comparisons may be valid, if a little lazy. It's more of Goonies crossed with E.T crossed with a little bit of Cloverfield. If anyone was to attempt and succeed at making a 70's Spielbergian-esque film and bring it into the 21st Century, it'd be Abrams, who ensures that the nostalgia doesn't overwhelm the rest of the film, which was a significant problem in many of Spielberg's more recent films (ahem, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). If Abrams didn't get the recognition as a big thing that he deserved before, then Super 8 is sure to give it to him.

One of the many things about Super 8 that really impressed me, were the performances by the young cast. Usually in films which are lead by kids, the performances annoy me, as the performances aren't really up to standard. However, this is not the case with the cast of Super 8. I found that I instantly warmed to the kids, and they were such likable characters, much like... oh, E.T or The Goonies. Joel Courtney drives the film and proves himself a talent to be reckoned with. Also excellent was Elle Fanning (yes, Dakota's sister), who really impressed in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, and impresses even more here, showing an acting talent and maturity way beyond her years.

The production values of the film are second to none. Super 8 doesn't seem like a film that is set in 1979, it seems like a film that was MADE in 1979. There are so many small details, such as Halloween and Dawn of the Dead posters on the walls of the kids rooms, that give the film a nice nostalgic touch. What kind of jars, though, is the fact that the excellent effects seem like they were made in 2011, but of course thats something very little. The centrepiece of the film, the big train crash, is simply jaw-dropping, and will have you ducking for cover in the cinema. The film is also packed with tension, although to be honest, Abrams kind of falls into the same trap and routine when it comes to creating tension, that by the fourth or fifth time it happens, you kind of expect it. Also impeccable is Michael Giancchio's beautiful score, which isn't quite John Williams, but it'll do.

The only real nitpicking I have, is that the film delves towards the overly sentimental at the end, which doesn't really click like it should. But what Abrams' has given us is pretty much the perfect blockbuster: a film that is packed with a solid script, heart and emotion, nostalgia, fantastic performances and spectacular action. All in all, J.J's Super 8 is just that...super. It is an experience that you'll wanna catch on the big screen. Mint. 

4.5 out of 5


  1. I felt the film rushed its ending, but it was a pretty brilliant movie, great review

  2. Yeah the ending was a bit rushed, thanks :)