Saturday, June 11, 2011

Super 8

Super 8
Year: 2011
Director: J. J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Chandler, Elle Fanning

In My Own Words
One of the things I really loved about Super 8, was that the children with their movie really reminded me of myself when I was around their age. My love of movies has gone back as long as I can remember and in primary school, I decided I wanted to make a movie. Needless to say, the boys in this film got a lot further in the film production stage than what I did. Being only 10, I wasn’t quite sure what to do after the pre-production stage of discussing the movies with my friends as much as I possibly could. Yet, I was completely serious about this film. I spent every lunchtime trying to get all my friends involved and telling them what was the difference between a producer and a director. My movie was to be called “The Taso” and was about a little furry monster who used to live in one of the girls house. He was a sneaky little thing and managed to play games with everyone without actually getting caught. “The Taso” became one of those classic films that was shelved and will never see the light of day.
Back to young people who have actually cracked it into the film industry, Super 8 seems to be the film which has absolutely catapulted Elle Fanning into super stardom. Elle Fanning is, of course, the younger sister of Dakota Fanning, as you may be able to tell not just from the last name but also from their striking resemblance. She has also played the younger version of her sister in I Am Sam and the TV mini-series, Taken.  Yet, Fanning has not ever seemed to be in the shadow of her sister. Before Super 8, she is most remembered for the role of young Daisy in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and as Cleo in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. Super 8 proves what she is capable of and she really is a little firecracker. It may be a big call as the older Fanning is an outstanding actress herself, but the younger Fanning could actually in time to come be a bigger star in her own right than her sister. I know, big call.
These are my own words and here is my review.
The combination in Super 8 of writer and director, J. J. Abrams and producer, Steven Spielberg is an absolute dream. This combination excites not only sci-fi fans, but anybody from any walk of life who just loves great film.  So popular opinion should suggest that we have a great film on our hands, right? Well, maybe.
Super 8 does have exactly what is needed for a great action/ sci-fi film. There is suspense, intrigue and amazing special effects, but there are things which stop this film from making it over the threshold of a good and great film. The film is fairly predictable with an ending which is edging on anti-climatic and as a whole, the film really doesn’t strike you as being completely original. Yes it is intriguing and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the large majority of the film, but it cannot be claimed as being something which we haven’t seen before. However, there really isn’t anything new under the sun so we can’t be too critical.
Set in 1979 in the Ohio town of Lillian, Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), the son of the town’s deputy, is focused only on helping Charles (Riley Griffiths) and his group of friends finish make their zombie film. While filming one night, they are witness to the horrific derailment of a cargo train running through town. After this accident, strange things start happening in Lillian and people start disappearing. The town is in panic and Joe and his friends may be the only ones outside the forces who know exactly what is going on.
At first sight, Super 8 seems resemble ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. Joe jumps on his bicycle and one can only have déjà vu to Elliot on his bicycle from Spielberg’s 1982 super hit. Yet then once he teams up with his friends and witnesses the train crash, it is déjà vu to Stand By Me. So what we are looking at is a mash up of ET and Stand By Me, with perhaps a splash of War Of The Worlds. However unoriginal this may make the film seem, there is still a huge sense of intrigue.
Super 8 is very well written and the script flows perfectly. There are also some very emotional scenes which pull at your heart strings. The script and accompanying cinematography methods make the film very suspenseful. In particular, the train crash segment is very intense. The special effects and sound effects employed for this film are brilliant. This is actually one film that proves that you do not need 3D in the cinema to make an action film extremely confronting to those in the audience. The fact that Super 8 wasn’t released in 3D is actually very reassuring and refreshing when 3D seems to be the be all and end all for action films.
Another great thing about this film is the way in which it doesn’t show you much until the right time. In the trailer for the film, nothing is given away as to what is actually in the train so you enter the film with complete intrigue to begin with. The questions are not answered at the beginning of the film, and nothing of the thing in question is really visually shown until later in the film. This is a great technique as it keeps the suspense, intrigue and audience’s attention.
The ending to this film is not as fulfilling as what some may expect it to be. Yet in saying that, it is not easy to think of another way which this film could have finished and it be the type of film which Abrams and Spielberg intended it to be. However, it may be exactly the type of ending that some people were after. It is a fitting ending, but it lacks real intensity in the closing scenes. There is some emotional intensity, but not for the prime focus of the situation.
One thing that also should be touched on is the unrealistic element of the film, in which there is quite a few throughout the film. For example, there is no way anybody could survive a head on collision with a cargo train going at full speed and survive. So kids, don’t try to stop a train at all, car or not. It’s all the magic of movies!
Joel Courtney plays the lead role of Joe Lamb, and in his very first acting performance on screen he does very well. He is very sweet and is the quiet hero. At several times throughout the film, you just want to give him a hug. However, it is Elle Fanning who steals the show in this film. She is brilliant from her very first line in the film and she is the one the audience wants to see more of. She is completely natural in every one of her scenes and like Courtney, you just want to give her a hug and tell her everything is okay. Kyle Chandler is fine as Joe’s father, but he doesn’t really show the traits of a grieving father or a deputy who is under a tremendous amount of stress. The relationship between him and his son doesn’t seem as strained as what it is made out to be.
Super 8 is one of those films which you have to see at the cinema to get the full scope of what it is. It is extremely entertaining and also very sweet in parts. This is one of those rare films which is for everyone.


  1. I was totally blown away by the train derailment scene! OMG - I know it's not normal to have a big fat grin on your face when you're watching so much damage happening in front of you but it was so thoroughly enjoyable I wanted to watch it again!!
    And I must say, hats off to JJ Abrams on directing the young cast, I loved the way he preserved the natural chaotic way kids at that age talk, it felt so natural to me I didn't feel like I was watching a script. It just reminded me of how badly directed The Last Airbender was!

  2. Andrea von RothschildeJune 14, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Ok, we've got the standard nerdy white kids from surburbia. We've got whimsical music, and cute dogs. We've got a tragedy that at once forms a rift between the characters and yet ultimately brings everyone together. And we've got the military as the bad guys. 80's Spielberg. And its even set in the 80's (actually 1979).

    THEN we've got a pickup truck that rams into a USAF train, causes a massive chain explosion (but the driver isn't killed). We've got an alien that can make a spaceship out of household appliances, but was imprisoned & helpless for 20 years by ignorant human savages.

    That's the problem with Super 8. It doesnt know what movie it is, and the plot holes are so glaring they take away from the rest of what could have been a great movie.

  3. I loved Elle Fanning in super 8, she's so pretty. And she's a good actress. I wish she will have more movies and be even more famous, like more famous than Justin Bieber.I loved Joel Courtney too, he's cute. But I loved Elle more,haha.