Another potential strange movie for me to write about considering it won several awards and made a huge amount of money at the box office. In the J.J. Abrams pantheon of billion-dollar franchise this is a much smaller and quainter movie than Star Wars or Star Trek and it is equally as good and worthy of praise.
Critics of Super 8 will tell you it is just a more expensive yet seemingly cheaper version of Spielberg’s masterpiece E.T. and the similarities between the two are striking. Which is probably to be expected with Spielberg’s involvement in both projects and Mr Abrams been a bit of a disciple of Spielberg. They are both about a young boy who has lost a parent and are still reeling from the effects. They both have an alien come down to earth and forever change their life. They both have lens flares for days and can’t forgot about the faceless government who are up to no good and trying to ruin everything. So far so the same. However, Super 8 is fare more than just a knock off of E.T. it is really visual interesting film (yes lens flare and all). Most of the film appears to take part in an almost hitting storm all the time. See poster above which gives the film a really dark aesthetic look, which goes well with the dark theme of the overall story. The cinematographer for Super 8 was Larry Fong and despite the over use of lens flare on the film (might be more of a J.J. thing) he deserves huge credit for his work on the film. One area though which E.T. definitely wins as the more superior film is the sound track Michael Giacchino score for Super 8 is perfectly nice. But it doesn’t have the same breathtaking qualities as some of his other scores e.g. Up and Inside Out and it definitely doesn’t have the same excitement and mystery to it that John William’s beautiful E.T. sound track had.
The film stars Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb as the lost young man who makes films with his best friend Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) on, you guested it a Super 8 camera. While out filming with their other friends and the girl the both like Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) in a star making performance. They witness a train been hit by a car and all sort of things start to happen from there. Elle Fanning may have come out with a star making performance in Super 8. But the real star of everything he is in is Kyle Chandler, one of the most talented and criminally underrated actors of a generation. He plays Deputy Jackson Lamb (Joe’s Dad) and it is his real struggle to come to terms with how to be a father to Joe while also grieving for the recent loss of his wife that is at the heart of the film. Super 8, much like E.T. initially might look like a Sci-fi action romp. They are both really about coming to terms with the losses in your life. All the characters in this film have lost something and by the end of the film they all may not have found what they were looking for. But they have come to terms with the new equilibrium. This is only achieved in film through masterful storytelling, people find it easy to criticise J.J. Abrams for been a Spielberg acolyte. But I think those that think that are selling J.J. Abrams short he is a terrific director in his own right and has yet to make a bad movie (yes I have seen Star Trek: Into Darkness).
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Links and Videos
As with any trailer produced by J.J. Abrams, it gets you excited about the film while actually revealing almost nothing. J.J. Abrams and the whole team at Bad Robot need to show every other production company how to make trailers.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, actually was noticeable laking in its lens flare compared to most J.J. Abrams works and that is probably a good thing.
Not strictly related but, it is great and well worth your time.