Film Review: Super 8

Super 8 is the best blockbuster of the year so far. J.J. Abrams homage to producer Steven Spielberg is utterly charming.

Charles enlists the help of his friends, including Joe Lamb, to shoot a short movie. Hoping to enter the film into a competition, Charles seeks production values. Shooting a scene at night, the young teens witness a terrifying train crash. Following this, mysterious incidents take place in the town, as Joe and friends try to investigate what has occurred…

Super 8 is a fantastically well constructed film. Like the best blockbuster movies, Abram’s film effectively combines action-adventure, comedy and science fiction. These elements work well together; Super 8 has the ability to shift between comedy and tension seamlessly.

The film displays some sentimentalism. This is not particularly surprising, given Spielberg’s involvement. Moreover, these moments are well executed and are in keeping with the overall feel of the film. The sentimentalism never really veers into cheese territory.

The sense of mystery works well in Super 8. The contents of the train is not revealed initially, leading the main characters and the viewers to question the army’s involvement as well as the strange occurrences. It is a significant way into the film before more details are revealed, which keeps viewers guessing as to if or how the supernatural comes into play.

The influence of Spielberg’s films from the 1970s and 1980s is made very apparent in Super 8. The mystery over the cause of events is reminiscent of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The camaraderie of the group of kids harks back to E.T. and the Spielberg-produced The Goonies. The references are visual as well as thematic, with the running in the train crash sequence harking back to an infamous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene. Furthermore, the references to George A. Romero are a nice touch. Abrams pays homage to his influences in the best possible way; overtly and slightly in awe, but blended seamlessly into the action.

The effects used in the film are first rate. Super 8 has a polished overall look, again harking back to Spielberg’s earlier blockbusters. The sound is suitably consuming. Michael Giacchino’s score is apt, although a section sounds very similar to Danny Elfman’s Nightmare Before Christmas theme.

The comedy in the film is effective thanks to Abrams’ script and the very natural interaction of the young teens. Performances are great all round, with Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths standing out in particular. Kyle Chandler, meanwhile, looks every inch the late-1970s dad as Jackson Lamb.

Abrams’ film is highly recommended, and will likely be remembered as one of the year’s best movies. Super 8 is simply a delight.

Film Review: The Crazies

Eisner’s remake of the low-budget 1973 Romero flick is an entertaining enough affair. The slick production gives it more of a blockbuster feel than the original, though the premise is much the same.

The contamination of a small town’s water supply leads to some strange behaviour, culminating in the presence of the undead and the containment of the residents. The Crazies falls more into the category of action film than horror, although there are a number of scares that appear straight out of the latter genre.

The narrative projects a negative view of authority and organised government, with the heartless approach taken by the military and the death of many innocent and unaffected civilians. More emphasis is laid on personal responsibility; it is up to hero Dutton to save himself and his companions, and despite being in the military, it is the choice of the soldier they capture to not give the group up.

Political commentary aside, The Crazies functions well as an action thriller. The unknown cast are adequate, although the dialogue is at times naff. The special effects, sound, editing and cinematography combine well to create a high-octane, and sometimes very gory, film. Whilst it may lack the terror of other zombie films, The Crazies is an entertaining ride. At the climax of the film, the viewer is in no doubt as to who the real villains are.