Image Map

Movie Musings: Super 8 is Super-OK.

ET meets The Goonies.  Then they run into Cloverfield and Stand By Me.

One-liner:  In 1979, a group of kids accidentally film a train wreck which in turn leads to the escape of a mysterious creature who ensues to seemingly aimlessly destroy their sleepy all-American town.  

Named after the type of film that every budding film director first used to make their movies as kids, it's no secret what writer/director JJ Abrams (Lost, Cloverfield) is trying to do.  Not least of all because it's produced by none other than Steven Spielberg.  The duos intentions are made immediately evident by comparing one of the film's posters to those seminal adventure/sci-fi films of the 70s/80s.   Although highly deliberate, it is almost unfair in a way, as it's inviting comparisons to films that many of us who were born in the late 70s and 80s treasure beyond belief.  Films that we consider to be untouchable. These films are without a doubt a product of their time and this is not to say that they're actually good films (and by 'good' I guess I mean awards-worthy and generally well-reviewed as obviously the word is all kinds of subjective) but because they hold a very very special place in our hearts.  

They take us back to a time where optimism knew no-bounds, anything was possible and adventure was always around the corner. The films of today cannot touch that and no matter how hard Super 8 may try, it just doesn't.

Paramount Pictures / Amblin Entertainment 

               Universal Pictures / Amblin Enterainment           

This is not to say that it doesn't succeed in some aspects. It's trying oh so hard to be the ET of the next two generations and what made ET so special were the kids. So young, so naive; their interactions and the way they tackled their new-found adventure were a joy to watch.  Super 8 succeeds in achieving this through the character relationships but fails ultimately in the lack of the monster/alien story development (Where is it from? How did it get here?  Are there more like it?).  In ET, we saw the world through his eyes.  We got up close and personal with him and he even verbalised his aspirations (ET phone home).  Plain and simple, we fell in love with that little alien creature.  The same, sadly cannot be said of Super 8's monster.  Maybe he/she's not cuddly enough.  Maybe his/her humungous gnashers are a bit of a turn-off.

(Cont'd after images...)

Universal Pictures / Amblin Entertainment

Warner Bros Pictures / Amblin Entertainment
LucasFilm / Paramount Pictures
LucasFilm / 20th Century Fox

But the plain truth of the matter is that we just don't spend enough quality time with him/her and therefore fail to empathise.   The monster side of the story is really just a backdrop for the human stories which include a pre-teen romance, two life-long best friends fighting over the same girl and a grieving father and the tumultuous relationship with his son. 

The kids, which include Dakota Fanning's younger sister, Elle Fanning (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Somewhere) provide excellent comedy value what with their motley crew of a young Orson Welles wanna-be, a cry baby that bawls at the site of anything and a mini pyromaniac.  The main character around which the human stories revolves, played by Joel Courtney is definitely one to watch.  His expressions of awe and shock are just the right amount of understated but believable; you can't help getting lost in those big baby browns.  It's incredible to believe this is only his first film and I can only hope his career doesn't go down the Haley Joel Osment path (have you seen him lately?!).  Meanwhile, Dakota Fanning had better watch her back as her younger sister is only getting older which means: could they end up vying for the same parts!? Scandalous. 

If you're into Stephen King fare (I know I am!) and generally appreciate the tone of JJ Abrams (this is more like JJ on Horlicks) then you may have a nice night out or in with this.  It's definitely a popcorn movie, so make lots of it,  but if you're expecting to relive the first time you watched ET, then I'm afraid this just won't do it for you.  Only time will tell if it even comes close to reaching that same sort of stature.

Watch this if you liked: Stand By Me, Cloverfield, The Goonies

A bit of trivia for you JJ Abrams geeks, taken from

In the final scene, just before the end credit, there is a sign for a tavern called "James Locke." This is a reference to two characters J.J. Abrams created, James "Sawyer" Ford and John Locke in his series, Lost.



  1. I think I'll stick to the nostalgic movies I remember as a kid. Maybe I'm just too grown up, but movies today just seem less imaginative and more special effects.

  2. you know i never really wanted to see super 8.. i just love the classics!


Thank you so much for dropping by! Your comments always put a smile on my face!