Thursday, September 01, 2011

'Super 8'

1 September 2011

If ‘Attack the Block’ (reviewed here in May 2011) was reminiscent of an old Children’s Film Foundation production (albeit with considerably more swearing and violence), J J Abrams’ new film ‘Super 8’ is Children’s Film Foundation with swearing, violence and big production values. The two films have plenty in common with a group of teenage boys (and one female interloper) battling aliens and the human authorities in each case. ‘Super 8’ clearly had a much bigger budget at its disposal – it was produced by Steven Spielberg and Abrams seems to have tried to create a homage to Spielberg with clear references to ‘ET’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ etc. ‘Super 8’ is set in 1979: a group of teenagers are shooting their own zombie movie using a handheld Super 8 camera when they witness a spectacular train crash and discover secrets they cannot reveal to anyone. As with ‘Attack the Block’, ‘Super 8’ has a very witty script with great interaction between the children. Both films succeed because they manage to make the incredible (encounters with extraterrestrial lifeforms) amazingly believable and realistic. ‘Super 8’ is not quite as brutal as the British film – though there are some violent deaths, you can mostly predict who is going to be safe. And the American kids are bit more polite and wholesome than their British counterparts (who begin ‘Attack the Block’ by mugging a nurse at knifepoint) but then this is rural small-town America, not urban South London. ‘Super 8’ is funny and enjoyable but also thrilling and genuinely scary. As it approaches its climax the film does become a little predictable and somewhat sentimental but it’s lots of fun with some wonderful performances, particularly from Joel Courtney as Joe and Elle Fanning as Alice.



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