Monday, July 04, 2011

Super 8 - TheAnimationEmpire Movie Review

Super 8 is E.T. meets Jurassic Park, with a smaller version of the Cloverfield monster thrown into the mix. Oh, by the way, SPOILER ALERT!!!

I'd be tempted to say that Super 8 also has some Sixth Sense thrown in there, but the truth is that Sixth Sense borrowed heavily from E.T. and Jurassic Park in the first place, so it's better to just point to the earlier Spielberg films.

It's appropriate that this feels like a Spielberg film, because it is a Spielberg film... Steve Spielberg produced it. It seems like JJ Abrams finally met his hero, Steven Spielberg, and they had a converation that went something like this...

JJ Abrams: "I want to remake E.T., and I want you to produce it."

Or maybe... "I'm planning to make a film that rips off your films so badly that if you don't produce it, everyone will hate me."

Or in real life, maybe... "I'm a huge fan of your films, and you inspired my latest film. Would you check it out and produce it if you're interested?"

And then of course the reason why JJ went with a smaller (but still big) Cloverfield monster is also evident... JJ produced Cloverfield.

However, I wouldn't say that this film is a combination of Cloverfield and E.T. No, it's much closer to Jurassic Park and E.T. The camerawork is far slower, steady, and sweeping. We focus more on the characters. And the action unravels like a Spielberg film than the frantic and violent nature of Cloverfield.

Next, the acting: The acting is superb. The biggest stars were the leads... the boy (Joe Lamb) and the girl (Alice Dainard). Joe Lamb was played by Joel Courtney. This is Joel's first film, and it was a success; after this he was signed to two films (Healer and as Tom Sawyer in the upcoming "Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn).

Alice Dainard was played by Elle Fanning. Does her name sound familiar? She was in I Am Sam, Daddy Day Care, Because of Winn-Dixie, Babel, Deja Vu, and Astro Boy. Her upcoming films include the Burton animated film, Frankenweinie.

Of course the last name should be familiar because she's the younger sister of Dakota Fanning (who is also connected by Steven Spielberg, who directed Dakota's biggest breakout role... War of the Worlds).

Super 8 is masterfully made, and it's a lot of fun for film lovers (who identify with the young film makers in this movie). I wish it would have done better in the box office ($153 million world wide), but thankfully it only cost $50 million to make. So it wasn't the success that Sixth Sense, E.T., or Jurassic Park were, so JJ will probably stick to Star Trek films and producing Mission Impossible and Cloverfield flicks. In other words, he probably won't try another Spielbergian film like this again.

So why didn't the film make more money? Perhaps it got lost in a summer of big movies (true, but I think it could have overcome that). I think the main reason is marketability. Super 8? What's that? A type of camera? You're basing your film around a type of camera... that happened to film a creature escaping from a train wreck? Hmmm. It's not quite as straight forward as E.T., War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park, and Sixth Sense (where the names are exactly what you get; Super 8 wasn't really about the camera).

But regardless of its marketing problems, the directing, camera work, pacing, story, acting, and effects were amazing. If you haven't seen it yet, you should.


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