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Super 8

A 2011 movie directed by J.J. Abrams.

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The best trip to the cinema in a long, long time...

  • Jul 9, 2011
**** out of ****

For each talented director, there is one film, or perhaps many films, that the man or woman was destined to direct. For J.J. Abrams, director of the recent reboot of the "Star Trek" franchise, his film is "Super 8". I knew the man was talented as both a writer and a director; a sci-fi geek who is always ready to explode with knowledge and insight. He has a fondness of the works of Steven Spielberg. And now, he's made a film not only about his fondness, but also his childhood, his life, his emotions, and his career choice; the long, endless road that is filmmaking.

"Super 8" is a beautiful film. Few movies can make me feel like a young kid, and I like the feeling when a film finally can. If you cherish such a feeling, then you will also cherish "Super 8". You either resonate with the emotional material present in it or you do not. And if you do, then you may agree with me when I say that "Super 8" is truly something special. It is not among the typical Summer Blockbusters, yet it is a film of summer. It is unlike anything I have ever seen from Abrams, or perhaps even its genre. It does more than I expected or asked out of it.

I love films about filmmaking. This is another one of the greats in that department. The story begins with the emotional mourning of its central hero, Joe (Joel Courtney). He has just lost his mother to an event that can only be described as an "accident". Even though he is suffering from such a loss, life moves on. Soon, we learn that Joel and his friends; Charles (Riley Griffiths), Preston (Zach Mills), Martin (Gabriel Basso), and Cary (Ryan Lee), are planning on shooting a zombie movie in their local area to submit to a film festival. For the shoot, they ask Alice (Elle Fanning), a girl who Joel fancies, to play the wife of the film's character.

On the night of the shoot, things go wrong. A train collides with a truck containing the kids' science teacher. The train was carrying strange material, and the first thing discovered is a mass amount of small, white cubes; which look like Rubix Cubes, but they cannot be used in the same way. And soon, the U.S. Air Force is in town, investigating. But, what are they investigating? Dogs are disappearing, and so are kitchen appliances, cable wires, and even people. There's no explanation to how this is happening. I can't tell you anything else beyond this because that would be spoiling the film, and much like the Abrams-produced "Cloverfield", the best way to go in is knowing as little as possible.

The title refers to the camera that the young filmmakers of the movie use to film their zombie movie. J.J. Abrams used to make use of the same camera as a kid; going around his yard, and most likely shooting whatever he wanted to. He wanted to make a movie about his childhood past-time, and it was a good idea indeed. The film pays homage to the Steven Spielberg movies that Abrams is most fond of, and it shows. "Super 8" has the overall "feel" of a 70's science fiction movie. (Spoiler Alert) Yes, it involves a monster, but unlike many movie monsters, or aliens, Abrams' creation lingers in the dark, and is left mostly discreet. (End of Spoiler)

Abrams expresses emotions and devotion through cinematography. I wouldn't have been so touched, say, in the scene where Elle Fanning demonstrates a zombie neck bite on Joel Courtney's character, if it had been shot typically. But no, it was shot masterfully; focusing on human feelings. And as for the special effects...well, they are awesome, but they don't invade the screen. The train crash is one of the best I've seen.

The kids do a spectacular job. Joel Courtney is effective as the film's main hero, and so are his friends. Riley Griffiths is very, very funny as the fat, bumbling directorial figure Charles. Elle Fanning is delightfully sweet as Alice. Funniest, and most entertaining of all, is Ryan Lee's Cary character. The kid is like some off-the-wall psychotic; a child obsessed with fires and explosions. He reminds me of a young Michael Bay, and he garners a lot of the film's unexpected laughs. Kyle Chandler is also very good as the central kid's protective and grieving father. And (Spoiler), you'll never guess who plays the villainous force behind all the mayhem and destruction (end spoiler).

In a world where science fiction films are almost devoid of emotion and ambition, "Super 8" is simplistic bliss. It understands that with science fiction films, it's all about the approach, and this is why the film is a great science fiction film; not a bad one like "Battle: LA", nor a mediocre one like Spielberg's "War of the Worlds". Nostalgia is a sweet, sweet sensation like no other. "Super 8" exists in an era that the audiences of today probably won't initially warm up to, but it is not made for teenagers, or kids. It is a film made for smart movie-goers; people who grew up with Spielberg, much like Abrams did. I like to think of J.J. as one big nerd; one that also happens to possess the ability and creativity to make movies. The experience of "Super 8" is unforgettable, and I would gladly see it again to laugh once more, to be thrilled once more, and to observe the visual and emotional creativity present. This is one of the year's best films.

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July 10, 2011
Really enjoyed your review! I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about this movie and I do think I'll have to see it again. I saw this one after a workday and I may have just been out of it. This had some very bright spots and while there were things that bothered me about it, I cannot say it wasn't a good movie. Your review is making me rethink my stance on it. Nice review!
More Super 8 (2011 film) reviews
review by . June 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
J.J. Abrams has mastery over marketing gimmicks and he knows exactly how to attract viewer attention. If you remember the ploy he pulled off with “Cloverfield” then you would know that he does the same thing with “Super 8”. He keeps the trailers vague as to tease and to arouse viewer interest. Well, Abrams is a great creator of cinematic hype but I have to say, this is not the movie as advertised. As much as I can appreciate the marketing skills of Abrams and his intentions …
review by . June 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
J.J. Abrams is a name that always raises eyes in the sci-fi community.  Teaming up with Spielberg, he first grew interest in Super 8 with one of the most remarkable trailers we've seen for a film of it's genre in a while.  Where so many trailers are hell bent on showing you as much of the movie as possible, the trailer for Super 8 only showed one small snippet that didn't actually spoil anything, but rather made people curious as to what exactly it was.  This marketing …
review by . April 01, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Let's make a hit, says JJ Abrams. So much for making a good movie.
JJ Abrams has made hit movies. Has he ever made a good movie? With Super 8, he wrote, directed and produced two movies, and sacrificed the good to make sure he had a hit.       Super 8 begins just fine, the story of a group of young teens making a movie about zombies. Charles (Riley Griffiths) is determined to enter his movie in a film contest. He’s the director and writer. Joe (Joel Courtney) is his best friend and make-up specialist.  When Charles recruits …
review by . February 18, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I had read Wookpak's review of this film an am definately in agreement. I have not seen The Goonies and or Cloverfield but I can say that there are a lot of similarities with this film to ET. A bunch of High School kids are filming a zombie movie in 1979. The mother of one of the boys (Joe Lamb) died in a factory accident. The boy's father (Jackson Lamb) is the sherriff and at his mother's wake we see the sherriff arresting a blond haired man (Louis Dainard) that came to visit. It turns out that …
review by . June 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Super 8 aspires to be a lot. After the first few scenes of the film you can see the attempts at the charm of Spielberg’s charm from the 80s and 90s trying it’s hardest to fuse with Abram’s sensibilities about portraying suspense on the screen and his way of establishing mystery. Super 8 isn’t a bad film, in fact I actually really liked it. However I don’t think it’s as good as it thinks it is, or even as good as collaboration between two of the strongest filmmakers …
review by . June 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Super 8 clearly distinguishes itself from the other summer movies in the last years by simply approaching the old-school style of filmmaking when the story, the atmosphere, the narration, the feeling counted more than the tons of exploding cars and buildings we get to see today. Super 8 is a nostalgic reminiscence of the old-school cinema, a piece of little emotional film that addresses audiences of all ages.      The story develops around this group of kids from …
review by . January 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Set during the summer of 1979 in a small town in Ohio, SUPER 8 revolves around Joe Lam (Joel Lamb) and his friends as they attempt to finish a Super 8 zombie movie for an upcoming Super 8 Film Festival. While filming one night at the local train station, the boys and the star actress of their production are witness to and somewhat involved with a horrible train accident that unleashes a mysterious creature. Soon after, all the dogs in the town run away, people start disappearing, and all kinds of …
review by . June 18, 2011
4 Stars: Something this way comes
There are some things in this world that  humanity was never meant to  understand, never meant to  find out the truth, never meant to  grasp the reality of something more than the world  that we have built for ourselves and the prefabricated lies that we have been feed to make us believe the singular truth. The one all consuming truth that  in this world, in this universe we are the only life that exist, we are the only thing that lives and that Earth, our home  …
review by . June 14, 2011
It won't be for everyone, it won't be for those looking for sci-fi action flick. It is a fair expectation from the few details we gathered from the trailer. In that regard it has every opportunity to let you down, but if you are looking for strong story telling with a loving nod to film makers delivered in the hands of children than you are in for a treat. It has been a while since a movie has come out without any marks of irony, sarcasm, and pop culture references leaving only a well done …
review by . June 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Going into a Steven Spielberg film, we expect a number of distinctive thematic elements: Ordinary characters in extraordinary situations; strained parent/child relationships, especially between fathers and sons; a childlike inquisitiveness at the unexplainable; friendship, the loss of innocence, and coming of age; overt sentimentalism; and in some cases, excitement/awe/terror at the discovery of extraterrestrial life. Super 8, produced by Spielberg, …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Abrams has refused to reveal the plot of the film as he wants to keep it a mystery and let the images speak for themselves.[citation needed] What has been confirmed is that it will take place in 1979 and it will be a homage/tribute to Spielberg's '70s and '80s science fiction films with a mystery and supernatural feel from Abrams.

Abrams revealed the plot will follow a group of children in the 1970s as they film a movie with a Super 8 camera but while they are filming, they spot an alien escape from an Area 51 cargo train and it runs loose in their small town.

Few filmmakers have ever had a run at the tables like Steven Spielberg, whose output from 1971'sSugarland Expressto, say, 1982'sE.T.displayed an amazingly unforced melding of huge set pieces and small human gestures. Even at their most chaotic, they somehow felt organic.Super 8, writer-director J.J. Abrams's authorized tribute to classic Spielbergisms, hits all of the marks (Lived-in suburbia backdrop, check. Awestruck gazes upwards, check. Parental discord, check. Lens flares, amazingly huge check), but its adherence to the formula squelches much of its own potential. Appealing as it is to see a summer movie that retro-prioritizes character development over jittery quick-cut explosions, the viewer is always aware at how furiously it's working to seem effortless. Set in 1979, Abrams's script follows a group of movie-crazy kids ...
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Movies, Movie, Steven Spielberg, Jj Abrams, Science Fiction Films


Director: J.J. Abrams
Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: 10 June 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: J.J. Abrams
Runtime: 112 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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