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REVIEW – Super 8 (2011)

August 4, 2011

FilmJuice have my review of J.J. Abrams’ Super 8.

The film is intended as an homage to the sorts of family action adventure movies that Spielberg used to dominate the cinematic landscape in the 1980s.  Think ET and Goonies. As I explain in the review, the film adopts the traditional Hollywood template of having two distinct narratives that interweave and feed off of each other.  Traditionally, in these types of films, one narrative is very mundane and all about kids growing up, while the other is more fantastical. These two plot lines then intersect in such a way that the fantastical elements of the film help the kids to confront issues in their everyday life such as divorce, the death of a parent or simply growing up.  Knowing a good template when he sees one, Abrams uses the same trick in Super 8 but, because this is a J.J. Abrams film, he tries to add a postmodern flourish to the film by making it all about a bunch of kids running away from aliens whilst trying to make a film:

Unfortunately, while all of these themes and narratives work superbly on their own, they never quite manage to link up and feed into each other meaning that Super 8 is never more than the sum of its parts. The failure of the film’s various subplots to connect with each other is particularly noticeable in the film’s conclusion when what should have been a moment of heart-rending reconciliation falls completely flat because all of the journeys undertaken by the characters were undertaken alone.

Though unlikely to prove as memorable as any of the films from the 80s genre boom, Super 8 is nonetheless an entertaining soufflet of a film that contains some real spectacle and some real heart.

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