Friday 10 June 2011

Movie Review: Super 8

How many of the people, the young people, who go to watch this film have any idea what Super 8 is? Does this date me? I grew up with 8 mm and Super 8. No digital cameras or video cameras back then - the technological dark ages - 8 millimetre film was the name of the game. Saturday night at the movies was sometimes family night with all of us watching home movies on a small Kodak projector and a portable screen. Those times are so old, I don't just say it was the last century, I say it was the last millennium!

Super 8 is good clean family entertainment and while rated PG (PG-13 in the States); this would be a bit much for really young kids. Written and directed by J. J. Abrams who brought us Lost, Alias, and Fringe on TV and directed both Mission Impossible III and Star Trek (2009), the film certainly has overtones of the films of one of its celebrated producers, Steve Spielberg.

Set in the 1970s - this isn't such a big spoiler - a group of kids are making a home zombie movie using Super 8 film when they witness a horrific train crash. It turns out to be a train carrying some military classified materials. Soon afterwards, strange things start happening around town and everyone discovers there was a big, big secret on that train. Like E.T. and the Goonies, our central characters are kids and the focus of the story is on them as opposed to the adults. It gives an interesting tone to the proceedings.

The special effects are top notch and for the diehard fans, there are plenty of things blowing up. Oh yeah, don't forget the opening train crash; it is a doozy! - The film within a film idea is quite amusing. The leader of the group - Or should I say film maker? - is trying to make a film to enter it in a local contest. The process of scouting locations, doing make-up, rewriting dialogue, etc. all makes for a funny sideline as the film we're watching unfolds.

Closing Credits
Folks, for heaven's sake don't walk out as soon as the end credits start rolling. *sings* You'll be sor-ry! I've said in other reviews that I've sat through the credits for a long time out of curiosity to see the list of all cast members, check out the people behind the scene, and read what music was used. However, I've noted that during the past 10 years or so, more and more film makers are using the end credits to add little tidbits - Easter eggs? - to the film. They could be alternative scenes, outtakes, or even interviews with the cast.

When I saw X-Men: First Class, I remained seated to watch the credits. The clean-up crew came into the theatre to start their work and one guy yelled out, "There's nothing else to see!" meaning that there were no extra bits in the end credits knowing the few remaining people there were thinking they would miss something.

Super 8 is no exception. A bunch of people left immediately but then, Abrams showed the amateur Super 8 film the kids were making during the movie. It was quite amusing.

Final Word
The film is out in IMAX but I went to my neighbourhood theatre and saw it on a regular screen. As always, if you have the choice, I will always recommend going to see it in IMAX. I just love a six story screen!

This was good fun. Nothing profound, but a well done kids action adventure; a good piece of entertainment. It's well worth a bag of popcorn.


Rotten Tomatoes: Super 8: 82%

Wikipedia: Super 8
Super 8 is a science fiction film written and directed by J. J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. The film, starring Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, AJ Michalka, and Kyle Chandler, was released on June 10, 2011 in conventional and IMAX theaters.

Wikipedia: Super 8 mm film
Super 8 mm film (often simply called Super 8) is a motion picture film format released in 1965 by Eastman Kodak as an improvement of the older "Double" or "Regular" 8 mm home movie format. The film is nominally 8 mm wide, exactly the same as the older standard 8 mm film, and also has perforations on only one side. However, the dimensions of the perforations are smaller than those on older 8 mm film, which allowed the exposed area to be made larger. The Super 8 standard also specifically allocates the rebate opposite the perforations for an oxide stripe upon which sound can be magnetically recorded.


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