Monday, June 27, 2011

Movie with Abe: Super 8

Super 8
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Released June 10, 2011

Nearly thirty years ago, in 1982, Steven Spielberg made one of the most beloved films of the late twentieth century, "E.T." It managed to capture a spirit of imagination and blend a plot about curious kids with a sci-fi storyline. Comparisons of this Spielberg-produced film from the fantasy genius of the new generation, J.J. Abrams, to this classic film are hardly undeserved. There's a sense of nostalgia present in "Super 8," a fun, captivating tale about some rather strange and disturbing occurrences as seen through the eyes of a small group of child filmmakers.

"Super 8" succeeds marvelously at showcasing youthful sensibilities about the way the world works and how that plays out when the children are almost entirely unsupervised. Summer in the 1970s presents a great backdrop for this particular story, as Charles is able to enlist his friends to spend most of their free time helping to make his movie. Left to their own devices, the kids are privy to plenty of adventures, including but not limited to a jaw-dropping train wreck and an escalating alien-related disaster in their small town of Lilian, Ohio.

What's most impressive about "Super 8" is the way that it portrays the unknown. At times, it feels like a horror movie where a character is suddenly attacked by a mysterious monster after a few moments of spooky suspense. At others, it's a simple film where a child's view of the world might as well be the truth. "Super 8" deserves commendation for not feeling the need to mark the inevitable unveiling of its monster's face with some kind of grand, sweeping musical cue or terror. Instead, there's a smart balance between fear and awe, especially when it comes to brave, curious lead character Joe Lamb.

Aside from an enthralling and energizing story that never lets up for the entirety of its run time, "Super 8" also boasts some great child performances, ranging from humorous, such as Gabirel Basso's vomit-prone Martin and Riley Griffiths' Charles, to competent and believably mature, like Joel Courtney's Joe and especially promising young actress Elle Fanning's Alice. They look, act, and feel like kids, lending superb credibility to a film occasionally filled with corny dialogue and an old-fashioned story. Ultimately, it's a heartwarming, perfectly competent and wonderful ode to childhood fantasy suitable for all ages and a strong instance of exactly what his kind of film should look like.


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