Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review - Super 8

Super 8. A title that is quite misleading, unless you’ve watched the movie and know what the title was referring to. If not, then you would get the impression that this movie is about 8 superheroes or something, especially this summer where we get comic/superhero overload.

This is what my friends were thinking. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this was why they felt the movie was not enjoyable. At least a part of the reason why they did not enjoy it. Yes, 7 out of the 10 people watching it did not like it. Me? I loved it.

Super 8 is about a bunch of kids who were filming a zombie movie in the summer of 1979. While they were filming at a train station, they witnessed a train crash and after that, mysterious things started happening at their town, such as being overrun by the military, dogs disappearing, power failures and such.

But for them, none of those things matter. The only thing that matters was the movie they were making. And for one of them, the movie was really important because it gave him the chance to get close to a girl he was crushing on.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when the object transported on the train turns out to be a huge alien and it started rampaging in town.

This movie was written and directed by JJ Abrams, the writer/creator/producer/director behind TV’s Felicity, Alias and Lost as well as movies such as Mission Impossible, Star Trek and Cloverfield.

Speaking of Cloverfield… if you enjoyed that movie (which Abrams produced), then you’d enjoy Super 8. Cloverfield was a film about New York under sieged by a gargantuan creature but it was told from a small group of people’s point of view. The fact that they were living their lives and trying to survive was the main focus of the movie instead of showing the monster on a rampage was a pretty good angle in my opinion. You can relate to them better, which is always a good thing because once they perish, you feel something… or you’d get worried about their safety.

Super 8 is the same way. It focuses on the teenage children as they live their lives and try to make their movie, at the same time, facing a extraterrestrial attack. And here is another reason why some of my friends might have gotten turned off by the movie. A normal monster movie would have you seeing the monster rampaging from beginning to end. Super 8 did not really show the alien until after more than half of the movie.

For me, this is the better way of storytelling. It is far scarier when you do not see the scary thing like what The Blair Witch Project had done… than showing the monster every other frame like what Karak: Laluan Puaka had done…

Anyway, the cast of this movie are young and relatively unknown, except for the supporting cast. But then again, the most prominent actor in the supporting cast is Kyle Chandler of TV’s Early Edition and Friday Nights Lights. He plays the main character’s almost absentee father.

Joel Courtney has the burden of playing the main character and this is his debut in a feature film or any sort of acting actually. He did a really good job of making you feel for him and his pain, sorrow, joy and happiness.

Helping him with a solid acting is Elle Fanning, playing Alice Dainard, the object of his crush. Yes, Fanning. Dakota’s younger sister. Guess acting runs in the family, but Fanning, the elder Fanning, needs to be careful coz she is starting to get stoic as she matures… she was a fantastic young actress and I do hope Elle doesn’t go Dakota’s route. Not that Dakota is really bad though. There’s still hope…

Anyway, in case you did not know, this movie was produced by Steven Spielberg. So flashes of The Goonies and ET was evident in this movie. Guess you can say Super 8 is like The Goonies meets ET meets Cloverfield. For the three of us, this was an enjoyable movie anchored by strong performances by the two leads.

Stick around for after the ending because they actually show the zombie movie that the kids were making, using 8mm cameras and entering it in a movie festival. It’s really hilarious! Yup, that was what the title was referring to. The film that was used to make the zombie movie.