Bookless! … & review of ‘Super 8’

I feel bereft without my book! Especially when I have little more than 100 pages left of the entire Dark Tower series and I am eager to see how it all turns out. In the spirit of 2012 , however, resolutions still being fresh in my mind and all that, I will endeavor to “not sweat the small stuff” (my overarching 2012 resolution, as illustrated, laminated and stuck on a window of my class, alongside those of my students) and do something else in those times when I might otherwise have picked up The Dark Tower IV: The Dark Tower. Such as, for example, write a review of Super 8 – back in a tick!

Being a product of J.J. Abrams and Stephen Spielberg, I had high expectations. I was not, on the whole, disappointed – the film undoubtedly entertained – however…

It left me feeling a bit hmm.

Abrams being the writer/director, I was thinking Lost, MI3, Alias – ie. excitement and high production values, but also intrigue, mystery and not knowing what the hell is going on half the time. Well the excitement and high production values were certainly there – ramped up by Spielberg’s additional years of experience with such things – and there was some mystery and intrigue. Some. But nowhere near what I have come to expect from J.J. Which is sad, because the trailer gave very little away with regards to what exactly was captured on the Super 8 film of the title and the consequences thereof – whereas in the film, it is pretty obvious what is going on, all but a few details, from about the halfway point.

So it wasn’t very Abrams-y.

If one considers Super 8 as a Spielberg film, however, one is less likely to be disappointed. If one considers it as a Spielberg film of 30 years ago, it is perfection – because that is what it feels like. Super 8 is set shortly after the birth of the Rubiks Cube (if you have no conception of when that is, Google it). There are scenes which could have been pulled straight out of E.T. – kids on bikes haring around suburban middle America, for example. Also a fresh-faced boy communing with a misunderstood alien – although the alien in this case is a darned sight uglier and meaner than the phone-obsessed friend of Elliot, and the Super 8 version of Elliot is a little (but only a little) less fresh-faced and innocent than his fellow alien-befriender. Other than these minor-ish points, however, you would be forgiven for thinking that Super 8 is a more gruesome, slightly more sweary version of the 80s Spielberg classic, albeit with an extra-terrestrial who is more Giger than Frank Oz (again I invite you to Google these names if they are lost on you).

There is a definite nostalgic feel to this film. Not just because of the time in which it is set, but also its style, the fact that it stars a bunch of kids and the classic Spielberg-ish morality (it’s not about aliens or government conspiracies, it’s about love, forgiveness, family loyalty and letting go of the past). So if the idea of going back three decades into the past and seeing the-lost-Spielberg-film gets you all goosebumpy, then Super 8 will be a real treat for you. If however you have already pre-ordered season 12 (or whatever) of Lost and you are constantly badgering whoever you can find to be badgered on a slew of online forums about the unsatisfying conclusion of Alias, then I am afraid Super 8 may leave you feeling a little… well… lost.

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