Reviews, Theatrical Reviews — June 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

NEW RELEASE REVIEW: SUPER 8

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Super 8 serves as a clear transition into a new generation of cinematic homage.  Films like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark were created out of a love for serials from the 30s and 40s and now this next generation of filmmakers are making their films out of a love for Spielberg and Lucas.  Of course, Super 8 isn’t the first to do this but it might be the first to obtain the same level of transcendence and quality.

From the moment E.T. and Elliot pedal across the classic Amblin Entertainment logo, Super 8 captures the imagination of its viewers, no matter their ages.  There’s something for everyone–not just the key demographics–and that detail can’t be overstated in the era of $150 million blockbusters that employ more risk analysts than actors.  Director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg have joined forces to create a genuine, heartfelt journey through their own creative beginnings which will resonate whether or not you made movies as a kid.  The autobiographical elements are interwoven with homage to the greatest films we all grew up with and the result is undeniable: Super 8 isn’t just a tribute to childhood classics, it’s a new childhood classic.

This won’t be the only review to compare Super 8 to The Goonies.  It won’t be the only one to mention E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Comparisons between these films aren’t only easy to make but they’re also appropriate–and not only because Spielberg was involved.  Super 8 offers the same level of prodigious adventure that these 70s and 80s still offer but features computer-generated imagery on a level that its predecesors couldn’t. 

Some might complain that the use of CGI affects the film’s genuineness or relatability–a valid concern after witnessing its effects on all six Star Wars films–and those detractors may be right.  Anyone can see the similarities between Super 8′s monster and Cloverfield’s monster. (Note: Abrams produced the latter.)  And the scene where the protagonist comes face to face with the animated alien does seem a bit stilted but Abrams chooses wisely when and when not to feature the computer-generated beast, and most importantly, he never relies on graphics and spectacles alone.  The story and its characters interact truthfully with the “fakeness” around them and the dialogue remains at just the right combination of witty and clever.  Any of the film’s less effective elements are counterweighed by well-developed characters and their exciting adventure.

In short, Super 8 is the quality of film that the next generation of young film fans deserve.  They’ve injected thought back into the summer blockbuster.  And, full ticket price is completely worth paying just to see The Case, Super 8′s film-within-a-film starring (and crafted by) the young protagonists.

♥♥♥♥♥

4 Comments

  • WOW! A perfect score. I dug it a ton and not sure I could go that high. Thoughg I did say it would take another viewing for me to figure out how much I liked it.
    On a sidenote though, the 80′s Speilberg comparisons were right on which was awesome. Was hoping that they wouldn’t just be part of the media promotion.

  • Well, Scott, you liked it as much as I was hoping to, but I think I’m probably more in line with Kai. Though I won’t go so far as some to call it thievery of Spielberg’s best kid/sci-fi mashups, it comes awfully close to being a bit too similar to those works. More importantly, it’s hampered by being split a bit too much between its two halves, and I wasn’t a big fan of the lack of any closure between certain characters – it was as if the actiony events suddenly cleared up the drama between them, and that didn’t feel right.

    But I’d also agree with Kai that I’d like another viewing and some time to go by before settling in on it. There’s certainly quite a bit of magic and humor to be found here, I’m just not sure if it can compare (and this is an admittedly high bar) to ET, Encounters or Goonies.

    I was also a bit let down by the monster, or at least in the reveal(s) of said monster.

    Still, a big recommend.

  • Great review! I didn’t think it was the best thing ever but I agree that it captures the sheer joy and sense of adventure central to those 70′s-80′s films you mentioned. It’s not perfect, but it’s just such a fun time and the cast is great. I just flat-out enjoyed myself!

  • attraction and affection towards the characters is just different when spielberg has his hand in things…he makes you care…it’s well developed that way and that’s what makes this type of “monster” movie different to me…and thank god it was a “monster” movie…the previews were making me start to think otherwise…the only thing that i didn’t like was the monster itself…did anyone think that it looked awfully cloverfieldesque? oh, and we paid $18 out here in cali for imax, don’t know if i would pay that again (or make my sugar daddy pay), but still really enjoyed it!!! great review!

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