We've finally got some more details on what "Super 8", the upcoming J.J. Abrams directed/Steven Spielberg produced sci-fi film, will be about. The Los Angeles Times has the full report, but if you'd rather be kept spoiler-free, you might want to skip it. Needless to say, it sounds really promising.
In addition, here's that 30 second Super Bowl TV spot, showing the first real footage beyond the initial debut trailer.
By Bernhardt (Feb 10, 2011) (#2)
Damn, and here, I thought it was going to be an expose about one of America's worst budget motel chains...
I saw the trailer the other day when I went to see Bridesmaids with my girlfriend. It really had me intrigued and I was left wanting to know what was causing all that supernatural activity.
The part in the trailer where that puny pickup truck derailed a freight train completely broke my suspension of belief though.
Edit: Well, just did some research... I guess it can happen.
Last edited by Kenology (Jun 12, 2011)
Super 8 was an unpredictable and sui generis science fiction movie. I failed miserably in certain predictions, but I did predict the ending. That much seemed obvious and it reminded me of a certain movie that came out in 1982. The alien's technology made me think of Greg Egan and his ultra-sophisticated hard science creations. I will admit that the alien technology is probably the most sophisticated, without invoking thoughts of "magic", that I've yet seen in a movie. I can see how it could possibly work.
So, Super 8. I certainly enjoyed it, but I have to agree with the reviews: the movie often feels like two different genres desperately competing for the attention of the viewer. AICN's Nordling says it best:
"It's been written in various articles that Abrams originally came up with the coming-of-age story first, and then attached the monster movie to it. There's a lot of places in the movie that do feel like an abrupt shift in tone, having characters behave differently than they've been established previously in the film. And although the monster portion of SUPER 8 lacks focus, it still works, because all these events are shot from the perspective of the kids, and it becomes a grand adventure. It does feel like Abrams needed to take a couple more drafts to iron out exactly what he wanted the alien to be - is it a monster, or is it misunderstood? It's never exactly clear. Abrams wanted to do something different than E.T. or ALIEN, so he made the creature a mix of both and that makes the alien's story not make a lot of logical sense in the light of day. But the creature design is impressive, and the movie knows how to deliver the jolts and action. Abrams has always been effective at that."
That tonal shift is apparent not just because the alien plot is half-baked, but also because by contrast, the coming-of-age narrative is handled so well. The kids are the heart and soul here, and they capture ragtag likeability perfectly. Their 'film within a film' could easily carry the entire movie, and there's just a genuine sense of fun watching their home project come together. Then we come to the alien part. On the one hand, Abrams does a great job keeping the creature under wraps for the better half of the movie. The trailer's famous train wreck sequence is a phenomenal highlight, and seeing it in its entirety is almost worth the price of admission alone. The jolts and scares are effective, even unnerving, creeping into outright sci-fi horror at times. (The experience is enhanced by the stellar sound mix. I haven't been this impressed with a film's sound effects since Abrams' own Star Trek.) But on the other hand, the eventual reveal of the beast, as well as the hows and whys, is distinctly weak and muddy. The film ends on a very Spielbergian note, which in itself may cause some viewers to groan in exasperation; it's made all the more frustrating given how poorly developed the alien's modus operandi and back story are. Ironically, one character utters a line that perfectly encapsulates the film's big, defining moment: "Wait.... what?"
Most of Super 8 works, but quite a bit of it feels undeniably shoehorned. Alien aside, the parents also could have used with a bit more fleshing out in the characterization department. Giacchino is definitely channeling his "Lost" sensibilities here for the soundtrack, and while the presentation is superb from a technical stance, it's not an especially memorable score. Those qualms aside, I liked what Abrams was going for overall. The film is a great homage to both the titular 8 mm format, and to visionary directors like Spielberg and George Lucas, who derived their movie-making passion from its use. To that end, what left me really liking the film was the far more satisfying resolution in store for those who are patient enough to sit through the credits. (Hint: You don't need to stay for the entire credit roll.)
I overall liked Super 8. Though there were definite shifts between the two contrasting genres.
I kept alternating between thinking "this is a pretty good period/coming of age piece made slightly less enjoyable by the inclusion of sci-fi elements!" and "this is a very stereotypical ok-ish sci-fi movie made a nice bit better by these period/coming of age elements!" It all ended up depending on what part of the movie I was watching. Even though the genres clashed often, the mix was still interesting. I do applaud interesting.
The inclusion of the credits material, which they HAD to do, was definitely a highlight of the film.
Last edited by Zealboy (Jun 15, 2011)
The first 2/3rds of the movie are terrific, just like the Spielberg days of old (albeit with lots of lens flares and significantly better visual effects). The kids are especially well-cast and I can never resist Kyle Chandler (even when his character remains undeveloped and largely wasted). As long as it stuck with the kids and their movie making, the movie was a great deal of fun.
Unfortunately, once it shifted focus to the monster in the last third, things unraveled. The problem is that Abrams somehow expected us to develop an emotional tie to this beast (ala E.T.) and the script didn't allow room for that. This especially makes the big Spielbergian finale fall flat on its face (despite the pretty effects and the swelling music). Loved the credits, though.
Giacchino's score was fine, very much in his "Lost" vein. I'm personally tiring of that sound but I won't deny that the finale cue was well-placed (even if it failed to make that scene work). The action music was buried by the sound effects and I'm especially curious to hear it on the soundtrack as that tends to be his strength.
Finally saw this last night. With the 1979 setting and the premise of a childhood gang drawn into mystery and adventure it certainly does have that '80s family movie quality to it. It's hard to judge whether the child characters completely live up to the best of those movies but the idiosyncracies of the supporting ones are well established and the two leads plays their parts well (Elle Fanning's performance in particular was captivating for a child actor; talent runs in that family apparently).
The numerous night scenes are beautifully shot, making for one of the most visually pleasing experiences I've had on my home setup since making the switch to HD a year ago. A couple of the day scenes looked a little garish on occasion though Abrams is obviously trying his best to capture small town America in them.
Between the childhood romance, the family issues, the military conspiracy and the ominous supernatural occurrences there's a lot going on in the movie, and though they're all rendered well there was room for improvement. A couple of plot points felt rushed/underdeveloped, one near the end in particular being only briefly explained in the most amateurly staged scene of the movie and seeming little more than an excuse to add explosions.
Come the end of the movie I found myself feeling a bit empty, but it was still a fun ride for its duration. And definitely with one of the best ending credits treats to date.