Friday, July 22, 2011

Eight Not So Super Thoughts on Super 8

Super 8

Super 8 is a film that I can honestly say I thought I was going to hate after enduring the first twenty minutes. Pretty much everything you need to know about the characters is summed up in the first twenty minutes. I mean everything. The film offers very few surprises from a character standpoint. Yet ultimately I found myself completely won over by the end of the film. Sure it has its flaws but I had a whole lot of fun watching this film. If you have not seen Super 8 yet, I will not go too much into the plot as it is almost better to go into the film knowing as little as possible. I will merely say the film revolves around a group of kids who are making a short film on a 8mm camera. One night while filming, the kids witness a major train crash that will eventually have huge consequences on the small town in which they live in. Instead of giving my usual style of review, today I thought I would share eight random thoughts I had while watching Super 8:

1. I understand that director J.J. Abrams is paying homage to the classic 80’s films that Steven Spielberg use to make, but I wish the first act was not so “paint by numbers.” Even Spielberg’s films such as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind did not feel so forced at the beginning.

2. The train crash scene is both horrible and fantastic at the same time. I loved the stuff at the station before the train arrives. Yet I found that the special effects, when kids were running from the flying debris, completely took me out of the moment as the effects were not strong enough in that sequence.

3. I was extremely happy to see Glynn Turman, who played the kind-hearted science teacher Roy Hanson in Gremlins, playing the kind-hearted scientist Dr. Woodward in this film. Something tells me his casting was not a result of coincidence.

4. Man these kids swear a lot, which is actually refreshing when you think about it. Normally in a film like this, when all hell breaks loose the children often keep the language clean to ensure family friendly receipts at the box office. Yet is was refreshing to see kids, who are running through a war zone, speak in a way that you would expect given the circumstances.

5. The film really comes to life when it focuses more on the kids’ friendship in relation to making to making the movie. The young casts of actors do a great job in their given roles. I especially thought Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths, who plays the budding director Charles, were exceptional in their given roles.

6. The 8mm film that the kids make, which plays in the closing credits, was the icing on the cake for me. In fact, I almost enjoyed the 8mm film more than I did the actual Super 8 film.

7. “Drugs are soo bad” – my vote for comedic line of the summer.

8. J.J. Abrams has succeeded in making an instant classic that will play well on television for years to come. The film feels like he took two films of my youth, The Goonies and Stand by Me, and sprinkled in elements of all my favourite science fiction films throughout.


  1. I think JJ Abrams is a genious in his own right, but he has a lot of trouble editing his point of view!

    This is only out now in Finland, so hope to see it soon.

  2. @Splitreel - I think the mistake he makes in this film is simplifies thing way too much. He did not need to spell everything out for the audience. Still I had a lot of fun by the end. I think you will enjoy it.

  3. Brilliant work CS!

    Abrams is an incredible director, and as much as I loved watching Super 8, I think we all have many more great, and better movies than this coming our way!

    On a side note, as an early prediction I think Abrams and Duncan Jones are cinema's next two masterful directors working in the science fiction department.

  4. And I agree about the beginning, the last half of the movie saved it from the rough start.

  5. Amazing. I had the complete opposite reaction. I thought the final ten minutes ruined everything that came before it with an abrupt and nonsensical ending.

  6. @Matt S – Both J.J. Abrams and Duncan Jones seem to be leading the charge in regards to the new wave of science fiction films. I am hoping to finally catch Source Code in the next week or so.

    @Rich – The ending was very “Spielberg” in the sense that all logic gets thrown away to ensure you get that scene with the necklace at the end.

  7. I always dig a non-conventional review, and I'm glad to hear that the film won you over after a rocky start. That's a difficult and rarer thing, I'd imagine.

    Did not know that about point 3 - very cool homage, which I agree must have been intentional.

    Love and agree with point 4. Bless them for not sanitizing it for our pretty, little ears.

    So pissed I didn't stay through the credits to see the 8mm flick!

  8. @Dylan – Always stay to the end my friend. Not just to give the “best boy” his respect in the credits but to see all the Easter egg stuff that they occasionally slip in. I think film festivals have given me the patience to sit through closing credits. You usually have to endure them in order to get the Q&As .

    I have a few more non-conventional reviews coming down the pipe. I like the creative freedom they provide. Plus I just like to mix things up every now and then.

  9. RE: Staying to the way. The wife and I are almost always the first people out of the theater once the credits roll. She's much more adamant about it than I, but I roll with it. We pop out and always beat the crowd (unless I know there's a post-credits scene or something). If it's something that good, it can likely be found on YouTube (like the Avengers trailer was with Cap. America).

    I just forgot about the Super 8 mini-film. Need to go to YouTube now...

  10. @Dylan – When I tried to beat the crowds I always found myself stuck behind that one person who is slow as molasses. Plus, no matter how fast I was, the parking lot would always be jammed. Now I just wait it out.

  11. So glad this is living up to the expectations I had. Excellent review. It comes out in the UK this week - I'm looking forward to seeing it.

  12. @Dan - I think you will enjoy the film. It is everything you could want from a summer film.

  13. the kids did a great job. Very restrained performances. First time I saw it I too felt let down by the ending. it wasn't that it didn't make sense, it just seemed to wrap up way to quick. On the other hand what was left to do? Second time I saw it I realized that while there were some loose plot points the major theme of the film is letting go and by the end everyone who had something to let go of had let go, with Joe being the last.

  14. @Chris - I am really interested to see how this film will hold up for me the second time around. I wonder if my issues with the beginning will change now that I have had a few months to reflect on the film.

  15. CS: I enjoyed the film the first time and understood it the second. Or at least understood it to a degree that satisfied me.


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