Cameras and Aliens
At some point, Super 8 went from being a top-secret J.J. Abrams movie to being
the J.J. Abrams / Steven Spielberg project.
Photo: François Duhamel © 2011 Paramount Pictures.
I’d say it’s an apt descriptor even though Spielberg “only” served as a producer on
the film, which Abrams wrote and directed. Much as Cloverfield — a previous “top-secret J.J. Abrams movie” — was “only” produced by Abrams yet has Abrams’ fingerprints all over it, Super 8 is so redolent of what you think of when you think of
A Steven Spielberg Film that if Abrams and Spielberg weren’t known to have kicked around the project together for years it would fall almost unnervingly between homage and thematic plagiarism. The movie features precocious kids with deep bonds, distracted but ultimately devoted parents, the government stepping in to contain a mysterious alien phenomenon…
None of which is meant as a knock on Abrams’ talent or the film itself, starring Joel Courtney, Kyle Chandler, Gabriel Basso, Elle Fanning, Ron Eldard, and Riley Griffiths; it wears its influences well. Perhaps a movie as by-the-numbers as this in its broad strokes isn’t capable of greatness, if only because audiences are now so jaded, although I have to believe that even the most formulaic of films can transcend with the right alchemy of cast and crew. Super 8 is almost inescapably predictable, but you kind-of want it to be, and the core members of the young cast are often astounding. My favorite part of the whole film might be the movie within the movie that’s played out
in full during the end credits.
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