J.J. Abrams’ Super 8

Super 8

Spielbergian greatness?

Having spilled my thoughts into the web regarding J.J. Abrams’ appointment on Star Wars: Episode VII, I thought I’d finally sit down and invest some time in Super 8. From the moment that the Amblin banner hit the screen, the film oozed Spielberg sensibility in every frame. The film felt like a delicious mixture of E.T., The Goonies and Jurassic Park, with the late 70s / early 80s setting adding to the feeling of Spielbergian homage that Super 8 exudes. It feels like the kind of film that we all grew up watching, the kind of film that fed and moulded our imaginations as children, the kind of film that portrays children accurately without patronising them or making them seem wise beyond their years. Watching Super 8 can remind even the hardest of souls and coldest of hearts how it felt to be a child experiencing that same sense of adventure, and that is a wonderful accomplishment. But while this film revels in its sheltered position under the Amblin umbrella, it never quite reaches the heights of that company’s fabled legacy. The story centres on a group of children that witness a colossal train-wreck whilst filming their own zombie movie, and an unknown terror is unleashed. This ‘threat’ is treated to its own fiction and back story, but the payoff doesn’t have the emotional impact that is required because we are never given an opportunity to fully bond with the creature. Sure, it’s a great film, but it never becomes greater than the sum of its parts, it is merely ‘the sum of its parts’. That being said, Super 8 plays out like a shameless love letter to the Spielberg / Lucas school of film, and no doubt was one of many catalysts that led to J.J. being inducted into this pantheon of elite directors. It fills me with even more confidence than I previously had for the upcoming Star Wars films. Super 8 demonstrates J.J.’s ability to balance spectacle and grandeur with incredibly intimate character driven stories, and few films are as character driven as the epic Star Wars Trilogy. I’ll leave you with a quote from the man himself that I recently stumbled upon. It is a quote that fills me with optimism for the future of Star Wars: “It was absolutely the first film that struck a cord and that resonates to this day. I think it’s because everyone relates to being stuck in your life and feeling like something extraordinary is just around the corner. To have something scary and tragic happen, like what happens to Luke’s aunt and uncle, is such an engaging story that could take place on a farm in the middle of the U.S. and be just as compelling. And the fact that he ends up being the key to preventing this galactic takeover is kind of an amazing wish fulfillment. I think this taps into a universal desire that we all have to find meaning and purpose that is larger than what we ever could have imagined.” @jordanmarsden

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