10 Films You Should See at Raindance 2011

Intriguing, provocative, downright weird - here's what to see at this year's indie festival.

Friends with Benefits

It's stifled by its rom-com roots, but the endearing cast and funny script offer their fair share of perks.

A Lonely Place to Die

Ignore the rocky script and this is a cracking bit of boulder-dash.

Kill List

A brave low-budget entry, Kill List is curious but confused. Yes, the unexplained is scary. But you know what? It can also be really unsatisfying.

Fright Night

Someone needs to bite a chunk out of its runtime, but Fright Night is actually quite alright. And that's mostly fangs to Colin Farrell.

The Skin I Live In

A sexy masterpiece that excites as much as it unsettles. Demented, disturbing and terrifyingly brilliant.

Final Destination 5

All the fun of watching the opening of Casualty for 90 minutes. And then some.

The Guard

Brendan Gleeson deserves an Oscar nomination - for Best Racist, if nothing else.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Honestly? You had me at gorilla vs helicopter.

Mr Popper's Penguins

A proposition for Mr Carrey? P-p-p-p-put down the penguins.

BlogalongaBond: Live and Let Die

Put on your politically incorrect wig, brother, for Live and Let Die's Guide to Being Black in a Bond Film

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Star Ratings

Well good


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Home Reviews Cinema Review: Super 8
Review: Super 8 Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 01 August 2011 07:30

Director: J.J. Abrams
Cast: Joel Courtney, Zach Mills, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Gabriel Basso, Ryan Lee, Riley Griffiths
Cast: 12A
Trailer / Super 8 Clips

If Battle: Los Angeles and Skyline taught us anything, it's that adults haven't the foggiest idea how to handle an alien invasion. Kids, on the other hand, have got it covered. And J.J. Abrams knows it. Like E.T., Super 8 sticks to the young'uns perspective, giving everything a nice 80s vibe. There are model trains and Sony Walkmans - if your geeky inner child made a movie, Super 8 would probably be it. 

Abrams' inner child is clearly having a ball. We start off following Joe Lamb (Courtney), a kid who spends his time sneaking out of the house to help his friend Charles (Griffiths) finish his movie. But while they're filming a scene at the station, a train blows up, bringing with it bumps in the night, disappearing dogs and a massive military invasion.

It's exactly the kind of thing that you'd expect from a monster movie. And so Charles starts shooting his zombie adventure with the army forces in the background. "Production value!" he shouts, as tanks roar past their Super 8 camera. Meanwhile, Abrams runs around off-screen making sure everything's as post-modern as possible. The result? A screenplay that looks like a multi-storey car park.

It's most obvious when we watch the scene where Martin (Basso) and Alice (Fanning) pretend to fall in love, while (shock, horror) Joe and Alice actually fall in love in real life. Whoah. Now that's meta-filmmaking.

The problem with Abrams' post-modern approach is that it encourages you to deconstruct everything. And yet despite being so self-aware, Super 8 is never less than engaging. The main reason for that is the superb acting. The cast are uniformly excellent, and the kids nail that amateur movie-making vibe: "I wouldn't help you if it wasn't for our time in Vietnam together," says Joe to Martin, putting on a false moustache and a deep voice. "I'd rather not talk about it," comes the squeaky reply.

Out of the adults, Kyle Chandler's concerned dad anchors the movie within the movie, but the standout star is undoubtedly Elle Fanning. An actress who can pretend to act while still being good at acting? That girl's going places. She even makes for a convincing zombie.

It all thunders along in Abrams' usual fashion, complete with several unnecessary explosions, but the visuals are pristinely rendered; when it looks this good, it seems silly to complain about the self-indulgent train crash lasting too long, or the fact that the entire film is essentially building up to one giant lens flare.

If only Abrams didn't indulge his script quite so much. Trying to give every character a moment of resolution, some subplots feel rushed - unrequited love and long-held feuds are tied up in under a minute. But if it's a case of ticking boxes on a spreadsheet, at least they're ticked in earnest. Super 8 is clearly a personal project for both producer Steven Spielberg and the Star Trek director. And in the world of big-budget summer blockbusters, they don't come along very often.



As meta as Cloverfield and as moving as The Goonies, Super 8 is a lovely slice of classic sci-fi. 



What did you think?

( 1 Vote ) 


  • alien invasion
  • elle fanning
  • et
  • gabriel basso
  • jj abrams
  • joel courtney
  • kyle chandler
  • riley griffiths
  • ryan lee
  • steven spielberg
  • super 8

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