Saturday, 12 May 2012

Super 8 Review

Being a fan of the 'LOST' television series, I was keen to check out J. J. Abrams' latest Science fiction feature. 'Super 8' is movie which follows a young group of friends filming a low budget movie to be entered in a film festival. When shooting a scene at midnight in the local train station, the group witness a horrific train crash. The crash is the result of a car driving on to the tracks, which turns out to have been steered by an old school teacher who warns the young teenagers never to speak of the incident. The teens notice hundreds of peculiar looking cubes have been scattered from the cargo, and the military soon arrive to remove these strange objects from the scene. Following the incident, electrical equipment begins to vanish as well as local people. It seems that a beastly alien is responsible for these disappearances. We later find out from the protagonist 'Joe', who is a model train collector, that the carriages of the train belonged to the airforce, and from the school teacher 'Dr.Woodward,' that this violent creature is simply misunderstood. The crash turns out to have been an attempt by Woodward to free the creature from captivity and interrogation. The peculiar cubes are alien material from the creatures's craft which it wishes to rebuild and leave for home. The Military will not allow this to happen, wishing to hold the creature and learn more about its technologies. Because of the hostile experiences with our race, the alien has been forced to see us as enemies. This knowledge has been gained through a telepathic connection with Dr. Woodward, which happens when contact is made with the Alien. This same phenomenon later subdues the creature, when it makes contact with the innocent Joe. From the materials it has collected, the alien eventually reconstructs its ship and leaves earth.

When reviewing films, I always like to discuss the underlined themes as I believe this is essential in connecting with the story. We have a clear romantic plot line with main character Joe and the popular girl Alice, who stars in the zombie flick the boys are creating. Alice sees through Joe's shy exterior and sympathises with the loss of his mother in a gruesome industrial accident. Joe and his Father 'Deputy Jack Lamb,' mourn Joe's mothers death, which is a heart felt theme throughout. Through this theme of loss and mourning, we also receive the lesson of forgiveness. We learn that Alice's father 'Louis Dainard' was drunk on the day of the accident, meaning Joe's mother had to fill in for his shift. This causes Deputy Jack to resent the man. Later the two men head back in to their home town to rescue their children, who have headed back in to the evacuated town to rescue their friend Alice. At point Jack forgives Dainard and acknowledges that the whole incident was just an unfortunate accident. This theme of forgiveness and understanding carries on over to the creature's scenario, where it learns that not all humans are hostile.

Another strong theme is of home movie production and the creative ventures of bright enthusiastic young minds. Significantly, the movie is set in 1979, where the movie takes its title from the super 8 film format which the boys shoot their zombie flick on. Perhaps Abrams is paying homage to his earlier years of finding alternate forms of creative entertainment. Today, it seems we live in a lazy generation where everything is presented in front of us via the internet. We can watch video content on demand and listen to an enormous playlist of albums on 'Spotify.' We can record live television, on top of having access to hundreds of channels. We socialise with our friends via online networking sites whilst sharing our activities, what we have watched online, what music we are listening to. Super 8 shares with us a simpler time of utilising the human imagination as oppose to sitting at a computer and having ideas fed to us online. I am reminded of the documentary 'Zombie Girl: The Movie,' which documents a young canadian girl attempting to create a feature length zombie movie titled 'Pathogen.' Although what you are shown of the end result is in parts amateurish, the project generated lots of buzz as the girl showed creative promise for the future. Perhaps Abrams shared this fascination with film production in his youth. At the end of 'Super 8,' we are shown the finished zombie flick as the credits run.

Overall, the film wasn't really what I expected. From what I remember of the trailer, I imagined more of a supernatural epic as oppose to a monster feature. Also, from my experience with 'LOST' I was expecting richer and more unexpected character developments. Although there was some substance to help relate to the protagonist and the people close to him, there was nothing really original within the plot. We had the quiet quiet kid falling for the popular girl, the quiet kid suffering some sort of trauma making him shy and misunderstood. I was reminded of Peter Parker of the Spiderman franchise and the loss of his beloved Uncle Ben, as well as his relationship with Mary Jane.

Overall, I would give the film 6 out of 10.

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