I’ve long anticipated lowering my original score for this film (9.5/10). After all, no matter how well it was made, it hadn’t reinvented the wheel or offered the profound meaning of Close Encounters. Could a conventional blockbuster ever really justify such a score? Had I been too easily satisfied when it lived up to the hype? Or biased?
Second time round I was wowed anew: photography so damn stunning; a tightly interlocked structure for a great story that wickedly operates in the self-conscious primarily (see original review); direction and editing efficient and powerful; performances up to scratch with the profoundly moving material…
Avoiding sentimentality, Abrams aims for our basest emotions but withholds them; skilfully releases them in carefully timed bursts. It’s universal, and yet it feels so precisely specific to you. A lot of films aim for that, but few truly succeed.
It’s not just the emotions that engulf you. You’re made to feel like a resident of its suburban town setting, often shown locations on the horizon or by the road, such that by the time they become the foreground focus they have that air of familiarity, as if they’re from your own memories. Watching this film, it’s hard to make the distinction.
Original review, Aug 02 2011:
Fantastically written, Super 8 comes straight out of the Spielberg School of Economical Storytelling. And while it doesn’t go for meditation on the meaning of life or the meaning of meaning as Close Encounters did in its semi-pre-emptive genre deconstruction, it’s still a fantastic genre piece.
On the one hand, the small-scale story of a boy who’s lost his mother, estranged from his father and awkwardly entering puberty (all Oedipal themes fully present) – emotionally underplayed yet obviously tremendously affecting. On the other hand, the chaotic barrage of destruction that perfectly compliments the drama, externally conveying sheer confusion and terror. Basically, the sci-fi supports the drama. Beautifully.
Original review, Dec 28 2011: