Super 8

The parallels between Super 8 and Cloverfield are hard to ignore: JJ Abrams in a directorial role, an extensive viral marketing campaign and an enigmatic extraterrestrial wreaking havoc.

Don’t be fooled though, Super 8 is more akin to Gareth Edward’s low budget flick, Monsters, than the action packed destruction movie the marketing campaign promises, as the monster merely provides a backdrop to the core emotional story.

Instead of focusing on the escape of the mysterious creature, Super 8 instead centres on the coming of age of the young Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and the relationship with his father (Kyle Chandler). Kyle Chandler and Elle Fanning, who portrays Joe’s forbidden love interest, deliver strong performances in their roles and help carry a film that is plagued by one dimensional characters and hackneyed stereotypes.

One of the most striking features of Super 8 is that it is as much a monster movie as it is a love letter to film makers and aficionados alike. The cinematography is absolutely captivating and the ‘film within a film’ sub plot provides the perfect foil for in-jokes and sly nods to the industry.

That being said, Super 8 is truly a movie of two halves. The quality of the narrative deteriorates significantly as the film progresses. In the early stages, I found myself completely enthralled by the enigmatic monster and the dynamic between Joel, Kyle and Elle. Unfortunately, the final scenes of the movie devolve into a standard sci-fi fare, undoing the sense of mystique that had been building throughout.

Subsequently, the resolution of the core emotional narratives felt rushed and undeserving as the plot scrambled to resolve every issue by the film’s conclusion. Whilst the final reveal of the monster is a letdown, this was by no means a surprise as fear of the unknown is greater than any run of the mill CGI creature.

Whilst the gradual demise of what should have been a groundbreaking film can be at times difficult to watch, Super 8 remains an enjoyable, nostalgic trip that is technically superb and proof that the journey can be more rewarding than the final destination.

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