So frequently with big summer blockbusters, we’re treated to movies that maybe look nifty and are exciting at times, but afterwards, while reflecting on the drive home, seem like soulless extravagences. Super 8 though I would call a triumph of mainstream filmmaking–it’s not all flash and sizzle, there’s content beneath it all.
Super 8, in case you didn’t see the commercials constantly earlier this summer, is about a group of tweens and teens trying to make their own movie (hence the Super 8 of the title, the name of an old handheld camera). Early on in the process though, they happen to witness a train derailment and a rise of freak occurences hits their small town. Part of the fun of the picture is seeing all of the disparate elements click into place, so I won’t give away more of the plot.
Super 8 is directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. There was a time when Spielberg was a big draw, but now, thanks to a trio of awful Transformers films to his name, I approach everything Steve’s attached to with apprehension. Abrams on the other hand is a director I’m usually enthusiastic about. Abrams was one of the central people behind the show Lost, and I’ll admit, I was a huge fan of that, even when it started going downhill. Abrams has a knack for making big budget blockbusters that deliver; I enjoyed Mission Impossible III and loved the Star Trek movie he made. Super 8 he turns into Goonies-meets-Ray-Harryhausen-meets-David-Lynch, not an easy combo by any means.
I was surprised just now to look on IMDB and see that the film cost an estimated $50,000,000, which in Hollywood terms is actually pretty cheap. To put it in perspective, somehow the Adam Sandler film Just Go With It cost $80,000,000. The filmmakers were smart with Super 8 to cast a bunch of lesser known actors and actresses (I only vaguely recognized some), thereby avoiding the huge demands by leading actors, and having extra money to spend on special effects and to enhance the setting.
Super 8, when it comes down to it, was better than so much of what’s in theaters at the moment. It should be hitting a second-run theater near you any time now. If it were my movie, I would have shaved off about 20 minutes of film here and there–that’d be the one flaw for me. The film starts out mysterious, but eventually explains everything. I would’ve preferred it if much of the explanation was cut, giving the audiences something to talk about on the way home. I guess that’s to be expected with mainstream filmmaking.
I have just recently published a book titled A Rapturous Occasion. It’s a comedy of errors set around the holiday season. A Rapturous Occasion is available on Amazon as an ebook or in paperback.
Earlier this year I published a different book titled The Madness of Art: Short Stories.
What did you think of the movie Super 8?