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Super 8

A 2011 movie directed by J.J. Abrams.

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Super 8

  • Jun 14, 2011
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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 story about a simpler time, a simpler time of monster attacks.

If you are ever going to steal/pay homage to anyone's film career, you might as well get their blessing before you do so. That may have been what J.J. Abrams was doing when getting Steven Spielberg on as a producer. Perhaps the logic was Spielberg has dabbled with movies concerning aliens and children before so he may offer some sound insight. The truth is they had known each other for some time and both had been looking to do something semi-autobiographical about growing up and playing with Super-8 films. It shows on the screen, while J.J. may be in the directing chair you see a lot of Spielberg influence on the screen from the soft music, to the ambivalent close minded single parents, to the use of a crane to tilt up on a close-up of our hero's face. Spielberg's influence is all over this film, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The story is a convergence of two ideas that balanced each other out as neither was enough to fill out a movie. The original idea was one about kids growing up in the seventies and making movies, but the problem was they didn't believe the audience would care. With both having a clear interest in science fiction they then started brain storming about aliens, Area 51, train crashes, and getting it all caught on film. Suddenly they had two films rolled into one with both ideas being in their wheel house.

This movie has caught a lot of flak for never really explaining what it was about, and while the previous post doesn't ruin anything for you, it does give you a better idea of what you are dealing with than any of the trailers have. While neither director wanted to give away too much of the film the lack of details may be working against them as no one knows what to expect. Last time J.J. employed this technique was during 'Cloverfield' and while it did well in the box office it left many audience members with a bad taste in their mouth, probably from the motion sickness. So audiences may not be jumping at the chance to see this new science fiction collaboration.

Really the monster functions as a plot device to get to the real heart of the story. The best parts of the film center on the kids making their movie. The kids are all interesting characters and the interactions between them seem genuine. They play off each other well and it comes off very naturally. Plus Joel Courtney is a dead ringer for a young Henry Thomas, if the connections to ‘E.T.’ weren't clear enough already. Watching the filming process go was a treat. While everyone else in the town is wondering about the strange going ons, the kids are left to finish their project while analyzing the information they have gathered about the crash. I would be hard pressed to believe that any movie lover or movie buff didn't enjoy this movie for this part alone. I'm sure most, if not every film lover out there, played behind a camera before so they can appreciate the young cast doing all they can to create an interesting story. It was these small moments of pure joy that won me over.

The movie lives and dies by the child actors in the movie, and normally I hate kids in films as mostly I just find them to be annoying, but these kids did great. The only name of these rugrats that you may recognize is Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota, playing the cute girl from across the tracks. The other youngsters were all grabbed from obscurity, but are all perfectly cast into this endearing group.

The effects in the movie are great and all there for reasons even if they may run a little long, seriously how long can a train crash for. Also useful are all of Spielberg's trademark moves of camera angles and music. If you are going to mimic a style why not borrow the style of one of the greatest directors of all time. The soft music helps to enhance every emotion while each angle seems to reflect whether we are dealing with our kids or our troubling monster and the moment that surrounds them.

The opening hour of the movie was so enthralling I felt myself going through a full gamut of emotions. Reflecting back on the movie I find myself still smiling as the overbearing director/sidekick goes over film making 101 with his make-up artist/our protagonist and then watching as J.J. follows his own rules to a T, it would be rather embarrassing if he didn't. These emotions carried through as the second half of the story focused on our monster which wasn't as compelling. But the care and love of the story shows through the screen and makes it worth going beyond the shroud of mystery to see this movie. B+

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November 03, 2011
Blech of a movie. JJ deserves to do better than this.
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 . July 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** 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 …
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 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, …
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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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