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.