Thursday June 16th 2011
If you’ve been following the blogosphere lately (and who hasn’t? It’s 2011 for fuck’s sake) then you’ll be well aware that Super 8 is not only BETTER THAN E.T. but also THE ULTIMATE AMBLIN MOVIE and AN ODE TO A SIMPLER TIME THAT WE JUST DON’T SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN ANY MORE. It also has the power to restore human life and bestows infinite riches on anyone who really ‘gets’ what it has to say about the trials of adolescence.
Sadly, the third film from geek god J.J. Abrams (yep, he’s only made three) is in fact none of these things, but happily, you won’t care. Super 8 doesn’t waste time homaging or referencing in the hopes of appeasing its perceived audience of ageing Spielberg nerds. Instead it gets down to business straightaway, crafting a sincere, exciting, distinctive creature feature entirely devoid of in-jokes, easter eggs and pointless cameos.
A central cast of relatively unknown youngsters (Elle Fanning’s the ‘big name’ here) succeed at the unenviable task of playing thirteen year olds on screen and not being fucking annoying, and the fact that none of the adults are Ryan Reynolds helps amp up the just-a-small-town-like-any-other vibe a bit. Saying that, the sudden introduction of Noah Emmerich into the proceedings did have me thinking one thing and one thing only…
*Philip Glass plays the keyboards*
Of course, the movie isn’t entirely without its pretensions. The entire conceit of setting it in 1979 is a massive indulgence even by Jabrams’ standards. This is a film about a group of kids who make movies on consumer filmmaking equipment – why write in a load of elaborate explanations about how they can afford all the Super 8 cameras and film stock when you could just set it now, give them an iPhone and be done with it? Is it because 2011 just isn’t as romantic and nostalgic as the late-70s that Abrams remembers so fondly from his youth? Fuck that.
Similarly, you could slice about half an hour out of the middle and lose LITERALLY NOTHING apart from some pointless ‘what does it all mean?’ stuff about dogs running away and a stoner character who might as well be called Cormac Relief for all the good he does the plot.
Oh, and don’t get too excited about the alien. It looks like John Hurt.
Still, as long as you don’t go in expecting an instant classic, you’d be hard pushed to really dislike Super 8. It’s simple, sweet and far more understated than you’ve been led to believe. And it’s got lens flares coming out of its ears, natch.