Margaret Perry Movies

Let's Talk Film

Steven Spielberg’s Super 8

on 20 J0000007America/Chicago, 2011

A few days ago I went to see Super 8 – bad title, great movie. The title is one of the few things wrong with this movie. I actually don’t even remember what it refers to in the movie…

The film is about a group of boys and one girl (the love interest) in Ohio making a movie for a film competition. During a midnight filming session, the youngsters witness (and are nearly killed by) the derailing of a US military train. Although the kids try to carry on with their normal lives, strange things begin to happen in their town, causing panic. The military is being something less than cooperative with the townspeople. The town is evacuated as the military troops in the track down and kill the thing which is causing people to go missing. When Alice (love interest) goes missing, the boys involve themselves trying to find her (again risking their lives).

Although the overall plot of the movie may sound a bit clichéd, there is a strong realism throughout the film which sustains the audience’s credibility. My family is from western Pennsylvania and the town in which this movie was filmed is just spot on. From the looming industrial plant to the houses to in interior decorating, I nearly believed I had crash landed in my dad’s 1970s kid-dom.

The five or six child actors are absolutely superb. Part of it is due to their talent. But an even bigger part of the credit must be given to the writers and director who allow their kid-ness to shine through naturally. The script is so realistic and natural that one forgets that these kids have actually memorized their lines from paper. The way they communicate is just as if we were watching them squabble on the playground or on the phone.

The overall filming of Super 8 is very well done. I’m not usually one for pyrotechnics and things just blowing up for the sake of it, but the train crash scene was AMAZING to watch. I don’t know if it was the timing, the special effects, the sound, or a combination of all three, but I know every person in that theatre was gripping their seats and holding their breath for the entire length of the scene.

The film also had a very strong message to convey to audiences. The film represents many things: it is an alien film, yes. But it’s also a father-daughter/father-son story, a “my-mom-just-died” story, a friendship epic, and a romance. It’s all of these without being to scattered or confusing. A strong thread of just natural, unaffected, unassuming love holds the film together and yet it never threatens to become to sickeningly sentimental.

I would strongly recommend this film. If you’ve seen previews or heard about it but you don’t really think that it’s your type of movie, think again. This movie does not fall into any specific “type” or genre. It’s just a good all-around film which will really engage any viewer. In some ways it is similar to E.T. but you would have to see it and validate the comparison for yourself. It might be a little much for kids but I think anyone older than 12 or 13 would probably enjoy it.

If you see this movie, comment on this blog to tell me what you thought! I’d love to hear about your experience, even if you disagree with my review!

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8 responses to “Steven Spielberg’s Super 8

  1. C. B. Scheye says:

    nice review. I agree, the movie was superb! It definitely made my list of top movies of the year – if not the decade (but the decade is still very new, so who knows). The title is called Super8 because that was the kind of camera that they were using to shoot their amateur film.

    I think the screenwriter used the title because the kids were considered amateur in all ways, but they end up proving/showing (and even filming) what really happens… while the military, an organization which is considered professional, is trying to cover up reality. So the camera acts as a POV that shows the truth (even though most of what is caught on film is just smoke).

    • Margaret Perry Movies says:

      I guess that’s valid. But it’s the type of thing you have to know in order to understand, if you know what I mean. When I hear Super 8, I think of like a team of superheroes or maybe a type of car engine or a new robot or maybe the classification of alien, if you know the movie’s about an alien. Do you see what I’m saying. The title shouldn’t only make sense after you’ve actually seen the picture and thought about it for a while.

  2. Susan Hueffner says:

    Marg! I love your analysis, I really liked the move a lot. To me it felt like a throwback to ET, just on steroids. As for the title, Super 8 is the kind of film that the children were using, if that helps 🙂

    Did you see the extra bit during the credits?? I thought it was SO cute! And well done. Those kids blew me away with their acting skills.

    I’m so happy you’re doing a blog, this is definitely great!

    Love you,

    Katie

    • Margaret Perry Movies says:

      Katie,

      Thanks for your great feedback! I thought the kids were great. So natural and realistic. I did watch the film during the credits. The movie definitely reminded me of ET in a lot of ways. Steroids maybe because of the train wreck. And no cute Drew Barrymore 😦

      Hope your summer’s going well, old thing!

      Love,
      Margaret

  3. Rigel says:

    Great review Margaret. Just a few things I want to add. The reason that this movie reminds you of E. T. is because it was done on purpose. J. J. Abrams was a young boy in the 1970’s. This movie was a homage to Spielberg’s movies E. T. and Close Encounters of the third kind. Both these movies were released when he was still young and impressionable. At that age Abrams would have also had plenty of time fooling around with a Super 8 camera. I think that this film was a combination of his actual life as a child, and his childhood fantasies.

    • Margaret Perry Movies says:

      Rigel, Thanks a lot for this background. It really enhances my appreciation for the film. It makes a lot of sense. I think that connection to his personal experience is probably what makes this movie so realistic and down-to-earth.

  4. Stacey-Dacey says:

    One more thing I’d like to add, after seeing the movie: The director also takes from Spielberg’s style the convention of having several conversations going on at once. Isn’t this what we also love about old movies with Rosalind Russell and Katherine Hepburn, et al? I’m thinking of “The Women” in particular, but ALL those great ones where — just as in real life — people talk at the same time or have a few conversations going at once. I LOVE that.

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