Category Archives: Super 8

What I’ve Been Watching: Super 8

Super eight xlgI grew up watching movies about me. Well, not literally obviously (although when we first got a VHS Player, we had a limited selection of films, and I was semi-obsessed as a five year old of watching a home video of my one year old self). What I mean is that the films I used to watch where about boys my age or a little older getting themselves mixed up in the most exciting of circumstances.

I’m referring to films like E.T., Back to the Future, Flight of the Navigator, Home Alone, or Honey I Shrunk the Kids.

Maybe I’m just looking back on these times with rose tinted spectacles in saying, “They don’t make ’em like that anymore”. However, if they do they’re certainly less part of the zeitgeist than those films were in my childhood. Perhaps kids nowadays are happy just watching the same child hero eight times, and see no need for any other?

Whatever the case there’s something very comforting and familiar about the latest film from J.J. Abrams, Super 8. Set in the eighties, it sees a group of ordinary kids at the centre of some extraordinary circumstances.

The circumstances start as the kids in question are making their own film on a Super 8 camera late one night, and witness a horrific and spectacular train crash. The military soon arrive to try and cover up whatever the train was carrying, and the kids start to investigate what exactly is gong on.

At the centre of the film is Joe (Joel Courtney), who lost his mother in an accident eight months previous. His father is the deputy, equally interested in what’s going on, but oblivious to his son’s role in all of this. Part of the emotional heart of the film sees Joe’s Dad (Kyle Chandler) entirely committed to the well-being of the town while failing to notice or respond to the emotional needs of his still grieving son.

The other main relationship in the film is between Joe and Alice (Elle Fanning), as she gets roped into acting in the boys’ film much to the delight of Joe. However, the blossoming romance is soon threatened by a rivalry between their two fathers. As well as the small matter of a series of mysterious attacks somehow linked to the train crash that threaten to literally tear their who town apart.

The combination of the innocence of its young characters and the nostalgia for a type of film very much associated with the era its set it in making for an incredibly joyous and thrilling adventure.

Of course, the addition of some very impressive 21st Century special effects are a welcome addition. The train crash in particular is a spectacular mix of terror and amazement.

Super 8 is a refreshing homage to a different and strangely distant era of films. As well as being a really entertaining watch, it also brought me back to the type of films that completely enthralled me as a child, and got be hooked on this form of storytelling; an addiction I’ve haven’t been able to give up since.

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Top Five Most Anticipated Movies Of 2011

2010 has had its time (and its Top Five Lists). Now it’s 2011’s turn. So here for you are my Top Five Most Anticipated Movies Of 2011:

5. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
(October 2011)

The talent behind this film is such that I can’t help but be excited. The screenplay comes courtesy of Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), and Joe Cornish (off of Adam and Joe). It’s produced by Peter Jackson, and is directed by Steven Spielberg.

If that doesn’t get you excited enough, the motion-capture in this film is supposed to be something pretty special. As yet, there’s no trailer, although hopefully this still will give you an idea of the visual feast on offer:

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4. X-Men: First Class
(June 2011)

Given the disappointment of the last two X-Men films (X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Wolverine), I’d understand why some people may not be too overjoyed by the prospect of another.

This one, however, comes courtesy of the same writer-director team (Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn) that brought us Stardust and Kick-Ass. Expect plenty of fast-paced dialogue and visuals as we meet Professor X and Magneto before they called themselves Professor X and Magneto.

3. True Grit
(11th February 2011)

The Coens’ last movie, A Serious Man, was my favourite movie of 2009. Their next film is True Grit, a remake of the 1969 Western which won John Wayne an oscar.

The Coens showed they could handle the genre in a modern setting with the superb No Country For Old Men. True Grit is set during a more traditional timeframe as Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon help a 14-year old girl hunt down her father’s killer.

2. Super 8
(August 2011)

Not much is known about Super 8 beyond that it’s written and directed by J.J. Abrams, and is intended as a throwback to Spielberg’s sci-fi films of the 70s and 80s. The title also suggests it may be based on ‘found footage’ from a Super 8 camera. (cf. Cloverfield, Blair Witch Project, etc.)

Any more information than that you’ll have to glean from the teaser trailer. Like the original trailer for Cloverfield, this is a masterclass in giving us just enough footage to leave you confused, intrigued and excited about the film:

1. Black Swan
(21st January 2011)

Darren Aronofsky has become one of the most exciting directors of the past decade or so. Films like Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain have given the audiences experiences unlike anything else in American cinema.

Black Sawn seems to use a lot of the fantastical and psychological elements from these two films. We follow Natalie Portman’s tormented ballerina, desperate to take centre stage from her rival, played by Mila Kunis. Those who have seen Requiem for a Dream will know no one does ‘central character going insane’ better than Aronofsky.