Super 8 (Devil’s Advocates Review)
Super 8 is so good it literally made me forget all of its predecessors. I barely remember any details surrounding Supers 1-7, that’s how good it was. All joking aside, Super 8 easily lives up to its name in terms of Summer Blockbuster speak. It is truly super and it cranks the action and suspense up to an 8. Why not a 10 if it’s so super?
Super 8, from the mind of auteur J.J. Abrams, tells the story of a group of wacky kids, making a wacky film, in a wacky town, with wacky goings on transpiring. Any more than that will give away everything. Just know that there is action, cute kid stuff, and some suspenseful, Hitchcockian moments.
Super 8 epitomizes the typical summer film, with its outlandish action, high adventure, dazzling effects, and beings of extraterrestrial origin. And the best part is they work in concert together, instead of tripping each other up at every turn. The action can get a bit far fetched at times, but it is thrilling none the less. And while every critic worth their salt (and some e-bozos who think their opinions matter; present company included) have already done so, it’s easy to make the Goonies/ET connections because of the path the story takes. While there is good cause to do so, Super 8 does just enough to pull away from the pack and create its own niche in the world.
It would be easy, super easy in fact, for a film of this ilk to not only tread old territory, but to also fall into the summer blockbuster trappings. Trappings such as “show the audience everything upfront” or “dumb down the story to attract a larger audience.” Super 8 not only avoids these erroneous tactics, but it outright rejects them as the tired old tropes that they are. The story isn’t as heady as some science fiction can get, but the movie doesn’t shy away from being outwardly sci-fi and really utilizes the more potent aspects of science fiction. Abrams once again shows his love of Hitchcockian storytelling by hiding the true menace of the movie for a good long time, all the while building suspense, slowing revealing bits and pieces of the hidden danger. That, in and of itself, is excellent storytelling.
The performances, while all special and unique in their own way, really take a backseat to the archetypes that each character embodies. There is the heavyset loudmouth, the nerd, the pretty girl that doesn’t really fit with the group, another nerd with different skill sets than the other, and a town drunk. Each actor plays the part perfectly, especially the child actors, who hold their own with the adult actors.
Super 8, on the surface, is pretty familiar, but it’s more of a comfort thing, and not a counterfeiting. Using common archetypes, suspense tactics, and story elements allows the audience to settle in and enjoy the newly imaginative, while paired with the conventional. If the comparisons didn’t stop at ET, we could easily move on to The Blob, Invasion of The Body Snatchers, or even Stand By Me, but in the end that tired, lazy old argument can be used with 75% of the films made in the last 50 or so years. Between the acting, storytelling, and structure, Super 8 is not only a memorable stand along success, but it is also great example of superb film making.