The Gold Knight: ‘Super 8′Written by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg. What else is there to say?
This dynamic matchup is the perfect pairing for “Super 8,” an homage to a classic extraterrestrial story and Sci-Fi fantasy.
At the heart of the story is not an alien, although the plot might beg to differ. It’s a young boy who’s lost his mother and a father struggling to be a parent. The true action is not the train derailment at the beginning nor the other explosions throughout the film. Again, it’s the personal connection between a boy, his father and his friends.
t’s the summer of 1979 and Joe Lamb, played with precision by Joel Courtney, is helping his best friend film a zombie movie. Along for the ride are other friends coaxed into acting or helping with the production — the mark of a true up-and-coming director. Alice Dainard (Elle Fanning) is the leading lady, a casting shocker for Joe, who has a crush on the girl.
While filming, the friends are thrust into the middle of an out-of-this-world adventure, where they use the extraordinary events happening in their small Ohio town as the perfect backdrop for the movie. The director continuously reminds his friends of the “production value” of their circumstances and how “mint” (awesome) those settings are.
This reviewer saw “Super 8″ on an IMAX screen, which is typically around 72 by 52 feet. It is fairly easy to see the exponential improvement of film technology when the main characters are filming their zombie movie on Kodak Super 8 film and viewing the grainy results on a small projector. The audience is watching them on film much crisper and a screen much larger (especially in an IMAX setting). That’s quite the juxtaposition.
Not only was the plot of “Super 8″ fantastic, but the film was magnificently shot and edited. The special effects alone, by the incomparable Industrial Light & Music (ILM), were perfectly added and precisely implemented. The extraterrestrial we see in the film is beautifully composed and rendered, especially on the expansive screen.
The music, by J.J. Abram’s go-to composer Michael Giacchino, was perfect — this included some great hits from the period, too.
Lead actor Courtney was meant to play this role. The close-ups on his dirtied face throughout the film do more than words can express. Looking into his eyes, you see a kind-hearted boy who just misses his mother and loves his friends. His adventures with them throughout the film harken back to great kid-led movies such as “Goonies” and “Sandlot.” You feel for these kids and laugh and cry right along with them. It is also evocative of great alien films such as “E.T.”
“Super 8″ is, as one of the characters describes things, “mint.” The production value is spectacular, but the bullet point here is that this is a summer blockbuster that focuses on story and characters above all others. This lover of Sci-Fi films was glad to laugh, cry and be thrilled.
This film had the perfect combination of ingredients. At its core, however, was a perfect pairing of Abrams and Spielberg.
Go and see this movie.
Toledo Free Press Star Lead Designer James A. Molnar blogs about all things Oscar at TheGoldKnight.com. His column will appear online and in print periodically.