Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Super 8

JJ Abrams is a self styled Spielberg of modern cinema. The man behind Lost, Star Trek 2009, Fringe and Cloverfield - it makes perfect sense that he would eventually come to notice of "the beard" himself. Super 8 sees director Abrams team with producer Spielberg in an effort to create a film which, on the surface, looks like something young Spielberg would have made back in the day. However, Super 8 ends up being more like The Iron Giant meets the Wonder Years, as opposed to what it "thinks" it is - The Goonies meets E.T. 

The most frustrating thing about Super 8 is that it feels like a TV show for 80% of the time - and a pretty good TV show, at that. However, when it comes to the final 20 minutes, the film falls apart and rests on it laurels as a familiar and underwhelming rehash of all those sci-fis that have come before. Spielberg's finger prints are all over the film, from the over stylized solar flares littering EVERY night scene to the strained relationships between father and son, and even down to the soundtrack - which is conducted by Abrams regular Michael Giacchino. 

Despite every effort to capture the essence of 80s matinee films, Super 8 constantly fails to disguise the fact that it is never more than an inferior imitation of its forefathers - all of which is highlighted by how out of place it looks on the big screen. It would work much better as a twilight zone for the Harry Potter generation. 

The cast are relatively sound. Most of the kids tread a fine line between annoying and charming, but half of them never step beyond a 2D interpretation of high school nerds. However, Joel Courtney (Joe) and Elle Fanning (Alice) provide the film with a much needed emotional core that drives the film. So when Abrams finishes pulling at our heart strings at the end of the second act, we are in a perfect place for what comes in the closing moments of the film. Bring your tissues....well maybe, not THAT affecting, but still pretty touching. 

In spite of all its faults, Super 8 is a very pure hearted film. Something which does not want to subvert the cliches of 80s cinema, or makes not attempt to pander to a modern youth audience - which, in all honesty, should be the target market. Abrams has clearly submitted his film to the fanboy within himself, and although it is nowhere near the quality of what Spielberg could create, Super 8 will provide a healthy alternative to the loud and proud spectacles peppering our screens this summer.

6.5 out of 10

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