Review: Super 8 – Monster Movie Magic at its Finest

12 Jun

Before I get into this, I just want everyone to know that I’ll be keeping my movie reviews as spoiler free as humanly possible.

Now, I’ll just state right here that some people are confused by the meaning of the title, and sit in hopes that it’ll get explained in the film. Well it won’t, so allow me to clarify. Super 8 is a both a style of film and camera that became popular toward the end of the 1970’s due to its compact size and relative durability. The kids in the movie are shooting a short film using a Super 8, and the leading conflict in the film is accidentally caught on said camera, hence the name of the film.

Before this film even begins, you should know that it’s a collaborative effort between Amblin Entertainment (Spielberg) and Bad Robot Productions (Abrams). Spielberg of course having given us some amazing monster movies in the past, known for making excellent casting choices and portraying children with the depth and perception I think is deserved. Abrams is known for his attention to detail, and amazing development of suspense. These two were a winning combo from the get go, particularly for this genre of movie.

I saw the film the day after it had come out, and already was getting people’s perceptions of the film. Many were saying that it reminded them of the feeling they got when they watched E.T. for the first time. I could definitely sense that here. There’s the feel of small town America, and the impact of a closely knit community, even within the first minute of the film. Also, there are children, but not just any children. These are child stars in the rough. If you’re worried about the fact that there are children in this movie, don’t be. These are some of the most talented kids I’ve ever seen in film. There was not a cheesy, bad acting moment to be had here. Each character carried their own weight regardless of age or amount of screen time they were given.

In addition, the film is beautifully shot, and although the professional cameras used were pretty industry standard (Panavision), the additions post production are both believable and add just a touch of surrealism to the film. First noted is Abrams telltale trademark, the lens flare. Those of us who saw the recent Star Trek reboot will know exactly what I’m talking about. Some hate it, I on the other hand, absolutely love it. Granted, the lens flare was not used as often in this film as in Star Trek, but they can be found expertly dotted around action scenes as the cameras pan over an extreme long shot, or in between the faces of the dumbstruck children.

Another interesting thing to point out, is that regardless of the age of the starring characters, there is an immense amount of terror to be felt in this film. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that there’s a scene including a vicious train wreck. With a whole bunch of children running around, it’s easy to see how everything could go terribly wrong at this point, but you’re relieved when everyone seems to have made it out alright.

Then, of course, there’s the monster. As with Abrams last monster movie, Cloverfield, there was much speculation over what this new creature would look like. It seemed like every other week there was a new hoax coming out, some towering menace of a creature that would rip and tear through anything that got it it’s way. That’s just not so in this case… But hey, I don’t want to spoil too much about the thing either. What I will say is that yes, it’s terrifying, but it’s not what you’d expect, which is something I’ve come to appreciate about both Spielberg and Abrams. They keep you guessing, and that’s half their appeal as movie makers.

There were most certainly moments in this film where I was trembling on the edge of my seat. There were also moments when I cried, seeing as some of the more personal subject matter was a little close to my heart, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide. If you’re interested, or you’ve liked any of Spielberg’s or Abrams’ previous works, them go check this out. It’s definitely a wild ride.

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