Super Eight

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With banners advertising J.J Abrams and Steven Spielberg above its title, and hailed as an instant classic who can blame you for feeling the hype at the Release of Super Eight? However the film just doesn’t quite hit the spot in claiming its place amongst the classics.
Set in a sleepy suburban American town in the late 70s, super eight follows the events after a group of young ambitious film makers witness a terrible train crash, and start to unravel the mystery of what exactly was on the train along with investigating a series of local disappearances.
After riding the success of films such as Star Trek and Cloverfield, Abrams is here taking the helm as writer and director of this sci-fi, almost B movie type of adventure and definitely has some of his trademark style. However if you are familiar with producer Spielberg’s classic films from the eighties, then you will most certainly find yourself experiencing a major case of déjà vu. Super Eight suffers from the ‘seen it all before’ syndrome and rarely offers us up anything new to get our jaws into. The theme of ‘young boy meets supernatural force and military figure bent on claiming it as his own’ is iconic, but here becomes repetitive with nothing to set it aside from such classics as the iron giant or ET.
That is not to say this is bad film. The acting is some of the finest I have seen amongst a cast primarily made up of youngsters (often outshining the talents of the older actors). Newcomer Joel Courtney does a fantastic job in his part as ‘Joe Lamb’; a boy struggling to connect with his ever distant father, whilst Elle fanning as ‘Alice Dainard’  steals the spotlight as the object of Joe’s schoolboy crush who gives us probably one of the most heartfelt and convincing crying scenes I have seen from someone so young. The rest of the supporting cast are all excellent fun to watch; they have a natural flow of interaction with each other and witty/punchy dialogue that is reminiscent of the group of kids in The Goonies.
This film also looks stunning, from the seventies style and setting to the cinematography and special effects, which pay homage to films such as ET and close encounters of the third kind. I personally loved the flared lens effects throughout the film which you may recognise as being a favourite lighting effect of Abrams in the recent Star Trek film and gave Super Eight a stylised glossy feel. There are also some real standout sequences such as the initial train crash which had my eyes glued to the screen as train carriages were mercilessly thrown off the tracks towards our young main stars running for shelter.
With so much to fall in love with in this film it is a surprise and a disappointment that there was such a feeling of dissatisfaction at the credits.  Abrams seems to be juggling several different sub plots here whether it be a strained father son relationship, a childhood romance, a malevolent alien force or a military threat, none of which seem to sit comfortably with each other. Constant shifts in the films main focus leaves you struggling to reconnect and keep up with what is happening, and as a result the films pacing becomes disjointed. I thought I had missed something when all of a sudden the actors seem to jump into action mode rushing to get to the films over clichéd and predictable climax. Although sweet and sentimental at times this film doesn’t know what it wants to be or tries to be everything we loved in Spielberg’s old films all at once.
If it wasn’t for the fact this film has charm oozing out of every scene it could easily be dismissed as just another sci fi adventure flick for the kids. Entertaining? Yes, ground-breaking? Definitely not. Some may argue that it’s a classy homage to an era and style of film we came to know and love as kids; others would say complete money making rip off of old favourites, which anyone over a certain age would yawn at. I tend to agree with the latter. Super eight is more of an average eight!
With banners advertising J.J Abrams and Steven Spielberg above its title, and hailed as an instant classic who can blame you for feeling the hype at the Release of Super Eight? However the film just doesn’t quite hit the spot in claiming its place amongst the classics.
Set in a sleepy suburban American town in the late 70s, super eight follows the events after a group of young ambitious film makers witness a terrible train crash, and start to unravel the mystery of what exactly was on the train along with investigating a series of local disappearances.
After riding the success of films such as Star Trek and Cloverfield, Abrams is here taking the helm as writer and director of this sci-fi, almost B movie type of adventure and definitely has some of his trademark style. However if you are familiar with producer Spielberg’s classic films from the eighties, then you will most certainly find yourself experiencing a major case of déjà vu. Super Eight suffers from the ‘seen it all before’ syndrome and rarely offers us up anything new to get your jaws into. The theme of ‘young boy meets supernatural force and military figure bent on claiming it as his own’ is iconic, but here becomes repetitive with nothing to set it aside from such classics as the iron giant or ET.
That is not to say this is bad film. The acting is some of the finest I have seen amongst a cast primarily made up of youngsters (often outshining the talents of the older actors). Newcomer Joel Courtney does a fantastic job in his part as ‘Joe Lamb’; a boy struggling to connect with his ever distant father, whilst Elle fanning as ‘Alice Dainard’  steals the spotlight as the object of Joe’s schoolboy crush who gives us probably one of the most heartfelt and convincing crying scenes I have seen from someone so young. The rest of the supporting cast are all excellent fun to watch; they have a natural flow of interaction with each other and witty/punchy dialogue that is reminiscent of the group of kids in The Goonies.
This film also looks stunning, from the seventies style and setting to the cinematography and special effects, which pay homage to films such as ET and close encounters of the third kind. I personally loved the flared lens effects throughout the film which you may recognise as being a favourite lighting effect of Abrams in the recent Star Trek film and gave Super Eight a stylised glossy feel. There are also some real standout sequences such as the initial train crash which had my eyes glued to the screen as train carriages were mercilessly thrown off the tracks towards our young main stars running for shelter.
With so much to fall in love with in this film it is a surprise and a disappointment that there was such a feeling of dissatisfaction at the credits.  Abrams seems to be juggling several different sub plots here whether it be a strained father son relationship, a childhood romance, a malevolent alien force or a military threat, none of which seem to sit comfortably with each other. Constant shifts in the films main focus leaves you struggling to reconnect and keep up with what is happening, and as a result the films pacing becomes disjointed. I thought I had missed something when all of a sudden the actors seem to jump into action mode rushing to get to the films over clichéd and predictable climax. Although sweet and sentimental at times this film doesn’t know what it wants to be or tries to be everything we loved in Spielberg’s old films all at once.
If it wasn’t for the fact this film has charm oozing out of every scene it could easily be dismissed as just another sci fi adventure flick for the kids. Entertaining? Yes, ground-breaking? Definitely not. Some may argue that it’s a classy homage to an era and style of film we came to know and love as kids; others would say complete money making rip off of old favourites, which anyone over a certain age would yawn at. I tend to agree with the latter.
Super eight is more of an average eight!