on December 23, 2013
J.J. Abrams may be the king of lens flare on screen, something I don't mind at all, and this tale of children discovering an alien in their neighborhood is truly poignant at times, fun at time, action at times, etc. Spielberg would probably be proud. Abrams doesn't make a mockery of the genre and mixes E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and sometimes Jaws (for some suspense) for a superb result. Actors (even the kids) give believable and touching performances, the special effects are great, and the reconstruction of the 80s is, quite frankly, mind blowing (having lived through them). Dialogs are spot-on, and the metaphors and horrors (the beginning is brilliant under-play) finish bringing Abrams' tale to cinematic life.
Special features are interesting and lengthy: a nice commentary track, loads of featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes, etc. You won't get bored with these selected bonuses. I honestly didn't expect to get close to 2 hours of stuff, but having 2 hours of comprehensive and entertaining as well as informative behind the scenes segments really honors the film.
Personally, I just loved the movie, even though I didn't know what to expect at first. Having said that, I would advise any newcomer of this movie to try and not remember everything your friends may have told you beforehand.
Brilliant filmmaking, nice homage and never a boring minute (for my tastes, of course)... Add this to your collection, you won't be sorry.
J.J. Abrams - Director / Writer / Producer presents us with a love story that incidentally is visited now and then by an alien. Marketed as a sort of kids "Blaire Witch" story, the film is a pale reflection of "The Goonies" (1985.)
Basically kids making a movie witness a train wreck and possibly something else. We know that they are in trouble as "poof" out of nowhere men in uniforms with flashlights appears.
There is a disclaimer in the beginning of the film but there does seem to be a lot of gratuitous potty mouth in the presentation.
Even if the plot was formula and many times formula can be fun, Elle Fanning excelled as a zombie. See her earlier works as Phoebe Lichten in "Phoebe in Wonderland" (2008).
Four somewhat geeky jr. high kids opt to make a zombie movie. Joe (Joel Courtney) is one of them. His mother has recently died and his dad (Kyle Chandler) is a deputy who is semi-understanding. Charles (Riley Griffiths) is the brains behind the film. Alice (Elle Fanning) agrees to help them with the movie. After midnight, she drives the foursome to the scene. She doesn't have a license and is worried because the deputy's son is with them. Joe promises not to tell. One boy, Cary, has a love for fire and fireworks. Alice's father (Ron Eldard) gets in trouble with the law. Her relationship with Joe is not welcomed by him. This develops into a background Romeo and Juliet scenario, something for the young teen girl appeal.
As they are rehearsing a scene at the station, a train is coming down the tracks. Charles scrambles to get a film clip of the train while shooting the scene. Then it happens: a white pick-up truck speeds by the train. There is a wreak. The kids panic and run for their lives as RR cars explode all around them. When the smoke clears they take a quick headcount. There are things which look like a white Rubik's cubes all around them.
Charles recognizes the driver of said white truck; it is his fourth period biology teacher, Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman, a black man with a PhD. in biology teaching middle school in white suburban Lillian, Ohio). In his near dying breath the teacher instructs the kids not to say anything or else they and their families will be hunted down and killed! As GI Joe shows up at the scene, the kids grab their equipment and speed out of there...and they take one of the cubes.
The Air Force has taken charge of the clean up. The town's people are kept away and in the dark. Then weird things start to happen...Sheriff goes missing, dogs go missing, car engines go missing, microwaves go missing. There is clearly a "monster" thing on the loose, but the camera doesn't let us see it, very similar to many of the Jurassic Park/ Predator scenes. I wish I had seen this on IMAX. There are a number of scenes where things suddenly "jump out at you." This always makes it fun for a bunch of kids at the theater.
Spielberg/ Adams bring out the best in the child actors making them very convincing and realistic. The humor is pointed at kids. When Alice asks how to be a zombie, Joe tells her to act like their English teacher. The movie contains numerous anachronisms: Rubik's cube and Walkman came out in 1980 while the movie takes place in 1979. Elle Fanning is asked to play a number of different parts in this film, and she does them all well. I felt like I was watching her audition tape.
At some point in time the hippie (store clerk who tries to sell Charles pot) lets out a WTF. Here we have a film clearly aimed at kids and they drop the F-bomb in it. There was absolutely no need for it. They made the rating unwatchable for the target audience which is also financially irresponsible.
5 stars for middle school kids who outwit the military and save the day/ 3 stars for adults who sit through it.
Super 8(released June/11)gives us the one two punch of Steven Spielberg and Hollywood's flavour of the moment,J.J.Abrams.The hype would certainly lead one to believe this is an instant classic,a truly unforgettable cinematic experience,a movie you will see again and again,et al.Well,if you've been around movies along as I have,the hype becomes just that,alot of words/hot air to inflate something up,that may or may not have a pay day in the end.And the hype today is pretty much the same stuff they've been dishing out since the 20s.Does Super 8 have a long half life?Let's see.
The plot gives us a group of kids who love to make movies.Each character has their own raison d'etre,as Spielberg and company make each a stand out in their own right,translation:makes them like us ordinary folks.One is a wanna be movie director with a weight problem,one loves to play with matches and explosives,one likes to act but can't,one has a cop for a father and whose mother just passed away,and into this mix is thrown a young girl whose father doesn't get along with the aforesaid cop.
One evening finds the group out at a railroad station filming.A train approaches which will make a fine backdrop for their scene,but something startling will happen.One of them notices a pick up come onto the tracks ahead of the train and deliberately run into it.This causes the train to derail,but the train cars start flying through the air like footballs.By now they have abandoned their camera which has fallen sideways onto the platform but continues to film.In the aftermath they look around at the devastation not believing what just happened,let alone the fact they are all still alive.Suddenly the military approach-ith and the kids ski-doo.
The kids have all agreed not to discuss their experience,as the military has the crash scene sewn up.Slowly but surely strange things are a-happening.Dogs,people and equipment are disappearing in the town at an alarming rate,with no apparent explanation.One evening the girl of the group gets snatched up and taken away by a large creature.The boys stumble onto some notes a school professor had accrued over a long period of time,which has a direct bearing on what is happening now.The military interrupts their gathering and takes them all by bus back for interrogation.Along the way the creature attacks and tips the bus over.It kills the military men,but the kids escape.
In the meantime the military has set a deliberate fire which threatens to engulf the entire town.They evacuate its citizens so they can go on the hunt and recapture this alien.It seems they captured it and its' spaceship years before,but the alien has wanted to go home ever since,and now that it is free this is what it intends to do.The remainders of the group drive back to town in an attempt at rescuing the girl,who has been taken down to an underground cavern.Underground,they indeed find the girl and return to the surface.They are just in time to witness the water tower turn into a giant magnet,drawing objects big and small onto it.The creature goes inside the tower,which immediately converts into an alien craft and away he/she/it goes.
Does this film live up to its 'classic' hype?.....not by a million light years.I found this film to be quite a boring time,frankly.The only thing classic about this film are the Spielberg touches,such as the attention to detail in the characterizations I mentioned earlier,getting the experiences of youth/young love,etc.from their perspective,feeling the ultimate empathy for the alien,one man,er boy,standing bravely up to and connecting with said alien,and finally no Spielberg picture would be complete without a resolution of the parent/child conflict at the beginning of the film,at the end,coupled with a tender reunion to enhance it all.Ahhhh.Trouble is,by the time this film wraps up I couldn't have cared less who made up with who or that the creature made it safely away,or any of the touchy feely moments Spielberg tried to engender.And speaking of the wrap up,I was actually surprised the ending,WAS the ending.I was expecting more footage of...I don't know what....anything,I guess.The film also takes its sweet time meandering its way through its somewhat cumbersome plot,introducing us all to its characters and locations which must engender within us that"Oh yeah,I remember that time",or the old chestnut"Hey Bob,I used to have a house and car just like that".Yep,that's a Spielberg moment,if ever there was one.Except,this is NOT E.T.,and I mean that in the sense that it doesn't come anywhere close to the quality of that film.And you know while we're on the subject and have Mr Spielberg's attention(he always reads my reviews!),I have just about had it with the portrayal of kids of that age who would NEVER in a million years have talked to each other,let alone their parents,in the fashion they do,without dying a million deaths.He can get the clothes right,the music down pretty good but the precociousness that most of his young characters exhibit,has just got to go,OK Steven?
Technically speaking the film is clear and crisp and in its w/s format.There is commentary and two featurettes on the making of the film.
All in all a HUGE disappointment.I try not to let the hype into my reviews and/or influence me in any way.In fact I find the more I know,the more skeptical I am about what is to come.I get to a point and become a Missourian..."Show Me".The hype couldn't save this stinker.The pace and the meandering script are way off the beam and all the tricks Spielberg can muster cannot even save the day here.It's another War of the Worlds(2005).Give it a pass.2 1/2-3 stars.
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
French, Portuguese, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish.
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Digital copy (on disc)
Although it's listed as a science fiction thriller, Super 8 is an ideal family movie. The main characters are children and we are given enough information to identify with them. Even if we weren't like any of them ourselves, we almost certainly went to school with similar children.
The movie feels like a combination of Stand by Me and some of the best Steven Spielberg stories, such as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The story feels like it could have been written by Stephen King and contains a slice of small-town America, combined with a fantasy element.
The opening scene mentions an accident at a steel mill in which Elizabeth Lamb is killed. Her husband, Jackson (Kyle Chandler), is a deputy, and her son, Joe (Joel Courtney), is helping his friends make a movie. We spend a lot of time with these children and events are seen from their viewpoint. The group enlists Alice (Elle Fanning) to play a role in their movie and she impresses them with her superior acting ability. Joe starts to develop feelings for her and it's this relationship which drives the story.
One of the most memorable scenes comes early in the movie. While the kids are filming, a train approaches. Charles (Riley Griffiths), who is the director, wants to shoot a scene while the train is passing. A truck drives onto the tracks in front of the train and causes a massive accident. The scene is spectacular and will rock your home theater. After surviving the accident, the kids notice a carriage on its side and something is pounding on the walls from within.
That's the setup and I don't think there's any need to ruin things by giving away any more of the story. Courtney and Fanning give strong performances and their developing friendship is believable. Alice's father is a source of conflict and Joe's father has a role to play in the safety of the town. Part of the fun is watching events unfold and trying to solve the mystery. What is causing these things to happen? Why are people and animals disappearing?
Super 8 evokes a special feeling. It's partly nostalgia as we remember friendships in our childhood, and the movie feels as if it belongs in the 70s or early 80s. Technology wasn't as advanced as it is now and there is a closeness between the people in the town that is rare to see in today's world. The friendship between the children makes everything work and it feels authentic.
Although the early part of the movie relies on special effects, there is a real story here with a little depth. If you like Spielberg's classic movies, you'll probably enjoy what Abrams has done. If you were wondering whether Abrams includes lens flares like he did in Star Trek, they are present throughout the movie.
Entertaining if derivative Steven Spielberg homage (ironically produced by Spielberg himself), ths is smarter
than most modern summer action movies by a long shot, with some amazing special effects, some fun shocks,
and good performances from a brace of young actors.
What it doesn't have is a lot of originality, being sort of a mash up of E.T. and Close Encounters with a few
bits of The Goonies and old monster movies thrown in.
It does remind us of how good those stories were, and that there's no reason you can't make a teenage friendly
action adventure with smarts.
Fun and fast paced, but after the smashing (literally) opening I was hoping for more than a warm hearted,
well made re-tread of films gone by.
on August 1, 2012
Simple plot but extremely well done and very entertaining. All ages should find this an excellent way to escape for a while. Hard to locate the single DVD and so now the 'combo' package has been reduced to a sensible price don't miss out on this one.
on February 10, 2013
A cross between the films Stand By Me and District 9, this film combines excellent character development, humour and an exciting action story centered around a government cover-up of a discovery of extra-terrestrial life. I loved that the main characters were primarily kids yet there was an emotional depth to the writing that is not found in most action films.
Super 8 arrives at blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.40:1 encode. This is a gorgeous, beautifully filmic transfer that retains a very light and balanced layer of grain. Colours are vibrant and sometimes pop out of the screen, like bright oranges and reds of the fiery explosions from the train wreck, which cut through the blackness perfectly. The film has a very distinct clarity to it. Fine detail is optimal on faces, structures, and special effects. You can see individual threads in the shag carpets, and the woven texture of the furniture of that time period. The texture of shirts and denim also stick out. Black levels are exceptionally inky. (5/5)
Super 8's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack is simply one stout, enveloping, energized, satisfying, and dare say perfect listen. The track handles both extremes and everything in between with equal flair, vigor, and authenticity. The track yields phenomenal ambience throughout. The most outstanding, demo-worthy scene is the train derailment sequence. It is a sonic marvel and a perfectly engineered moment that's frighteningly authentic, devastatingly potent, and chillingly enveloping. The scene yields incredibly tight and heavy bass. It offers a terrifyingly immersive structure that takes full advantage of all seven speakers, sending everything from debris to complete train cars, from whooshing fire to screaming children, all over the listening area. Both the bass and the seamless directional effects come together in perfect harmony to create a sonic marvel, a naturally high-energy, eardrum-devastating, and infinitely enjoyable moment. (5/5)
In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth - something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. And don't turn off the movie when the end credits come around. During the end credits, the entire Super 8 story The Case made by the kids was shown, very well made and with great ending too. Don't miss it. A thoroughly enjoyable film. (5/5)
It has an estimated budget of $50 million. Its worldwide gross is only $295 million.
J.J. Abrams named the film's setting, Lillian, Ohio, after his grandmother.
The gasoline station on the outskirts of town is named Kelvin Gasoline. Kelvin was the name of J.J. Abrams' grandfather. Abrams commonly uses this name in his work, such as 'Kelvin Inman' from one of his previous works, Lost. The USS Kelvin was also the name of the star ship which is destroyed in the beginning of Star Trek (2009), directed by Abrams.
It should be noted that the front cover of my blu ray disc is not the one advertised with yellow and red. But the contents do contain the blu ray disc with DVD and Digital Copy.
Super 8 reminded me of movies like Goonies and Stand By Me, with strong kid characters who can drive a movie just as well as any adults out there. As was expected, Super 8 comes to blu ray with a great looking video presentation, and an audio presentation that is simply out of this world. Watching Super 8 makes me feel like having a big bucket of 80s cinematic nostalgia dumped all over you. The film ended up as being a homage to the great 80s Spielberg films, and it really works. But the most outstanding reward is its price that I bought: $13.49 (blu ray with DVD + Digital Copy). What a wonderful bargain for a very entertaining film. It is definitely highly recommended.
I hope the above review is helpful to you.
on November 20, 2011
The line itself is a cliché, at least when it's uttered by a crotchety old guy, but as we exited the cinema it was my twenty-three year old girlfriend who said, "They don't make movies like that anymore." She was, of course, referring to J.J Abrams' Super 8. And she was absolutely right.
Super 8 does bring to mind those early films of Steven Spielberg's, the films we grew up with like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third kind, and the not so early ones, the ones my girlfriend grew up with, like Jurassic Park. It's no surprise that Spielberg produced Super 8 or that Abrams credits Spielberg as an early influence. This is a movie that was made by people who love movies.
So what gives Super 8 that E.T. (and Goonies) feel? Well, there's the plot, certainly. A group of kids making a Super 8 film (an activity in which both Abrams and Spielberg participated as burgeoning filmmakers) witness a horrific train crash (one of the best crash scenes I have ever seen and well worth the price of admission) which leads, in uncertain ways, to mysterious killings throughout their small town and a worrisome military presence. It's a story that Jaws with Close Encounters and Jurassic Park. But it's the kids, and their role as protagonists, which imbues Super 8 with an E.T.-level of nostalgia. The kids are fantastic but it's also Abrams' script and direction which ensure that these characters not only come to life but seem true to life. Just as Elliott and the gang could be annoying and abrasive to each other, the kids in Super 8, led by Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning, argue with each other, snipe at each other, talk over each other, and make fun of each other. They feel like real kids who've stumbled into an unreal situation.
Beyond the plot and the young, endearing protagonists, well, we've got spectacle by the train-load. Aside from the aforementioned crash and derailment (it really was amazing), Super 8 also offers up some fine CGI effects. I don't want to say too much more since the less you expect the more you're likely to enjoy the film.
Super 8 is the type of movie for which movie theatres were constructed. It is a fun, lively film made by people who, when they were younger, spent hours making backyard movies with their friends, still remember how much fun it was, and have learned to share that joy with an audience.
Don't forget to stay for the credits.