Hey, very quick intro as my wife is telling me I have to go. So here is Josh's review of Super 8. Enjoy...
The longer I write about film the more I worry that I'm becoming jaded about the state of the industry. Things that become huge box office successes and wow cinema goers everywhere will sometimes raise no more than a shoulder shrug from me, and when the first trailer arose for Super 8 it got the same reaction: mild curiosity. This could also be because the first trailers were so ambiguous that there was really no way to know what was happening, either way it was far from the top of my must see list.
When paramount gave me the opportunity to sit down and watch 20 minutes of what the film had to offer, I decided give it a chance and see if J.J Abrams had the power to inject into Super 8 what he pulled off in Star Trek and Mission Impossible 3. During that 20 minutes it finally clicked for me what had been missing from modern-day blockbuster films, heart. Though this concept seems simple, it is a component so powerful that it can take any of the greatest of multi-million dollar blockbusters from a summer hit to a piece of history. The preview left me craving more and the question was, can Mr. Abrams hold that feeling for a whole film?
As a film, Super 8 is a relatively straight forward. It follows the story of Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney), a quiet small town boy who's family has recently fallen apart due to the accidental death of his mother. Joe has turned inwards and his father (Kyle Chandler) is having a difficult time learning how to play the single dad. Joe turns most of his energy to helping his friends make a movie using their super 8 camera. However, when an Air Force train crashes while they're filming a scene, something is unleashed that will turn their sleepy town into a giant action set and effect the lives of everyone in it.
Now, if this film isn't screaming “Amblin” to you then let me explain why this is hitting critics right in their soft spots. The concept borrows heavily from the early days of Spielberg and everything from dialog style right down to camera work is a homage. For the most part this works, and surprisingly it doesn't come off feeling too corny. Abrams has taken the basic formula and brought it to the modern audience by infusing a little more edge than you would have seen in back in the day. The film has more swearing, though it never aims to offend, and features some violence without being excessive. Though it may be controversial, this film is perfect for a “PG” audience. It feels like the kind of films I was raised on, Indiana Jones, Jaws or The Labyrinth, were movies that took you outside your comfort zone, and never pandered to a younger audience. However they could be enjoyed by all ages. It was nice to see the return to a film that could be enjoyed by everyone. This is what makes a great blockbuster.
Abrams has learned the game of film making the best way you possibly can. Practical application. From creating shows like Lost or Alias that held audiences for years at a time or his flawless record (financially) with the films he has been attached to, the man knows how to make his media work. Super 8 however shows the grooming of a master film maker. This film is more than good, it has revived the blockbuster for me. Not since Jurassic Park or E.T have I had a film not only dazzle my eyes and make me laugh but also reach into my chest and touch my heart. Super 8 IS my film of this year and it will be a hard pushed to topple it before December.