Monday, April 8, 2013

Day Ninety-eight - Super 8, "Drugs are SO bad!"

For the past 20 years or so, I could really care less about Spielberg.

Sure, he's made some great films... but he's also collaborated on some real stinkers. I'll leave it up to you to figure out which ones I mean. And, as far as "caring less" about Steven, it's not to say that I don't enjoy his films. It's more that nothing he does really surprises or moves me in the same way his old films did.

With that said, it should come as no surprise that, when I heard about Super 8, I was more excited with the prospect of an awesome J.J.Abrams film than another Spielberg entry into the lexicon.

All I can say is, with every single watching, I'm glad I came.

Super 8, from the very moment I saw it in theaters, has become one of my favorite movies of all time. I'm being completely serious when I say that I have a very difficult time deciding between this, Fight Club, and Millenium Actress for the top honors.

At it's heart, Super 8 is a story of loss, love, and redemption... it just happens to have a giant subterranean alien as its driving force.

Set in the late seventies, the story revolves around a group of middle schoolers who bear witness to the deliberate destruction of an Air Force cargo train, almost losing their lives in the process. After the disaster, they begin to realize that something very strange was on that train and the Air Force company attached to deal with it will do anything in their power to keep it under wraps.

This is pretty much filmmaking at its finest for me. The dozens and dozens of elements all gel together into a perfect melange of plot, suspense, and emotion.

I am particularly taken with the kids they got to play, well, the kids. Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, et al do a tremendous job portraying awesomely unique characters who always seem at home with each other. I never feel any awkwardness from the group unless the standout of the film, Elle Fanning, is there to tweak their nose in their hormones in that cute way 12-year-olds, who are just discovering love, can.

My favorite scenes are those where its just the kids hanging out, working on their movie-within-the-movie, the zombie film that Griffith's character Charles is producing with everyone's help. Whether its in the diner, trying to piece together what's going on, or at Charles' place getting ready to film Alice's (Fanning) zombie scene, there's real chemistry in every knowing look and in all the juvenile banter.

I also want to give a shout out to Noah Emmerich who plays the malevolent Col.Nelec. He manages to bluff as an Air Force bureaucrat more interested in containment than murder for the majority of the film, but the moment you see how far he goes, you understand the depths to his obsession.

As far as cinematography goes, I really love Abrams' color palette for the film. Everything is entirely retro with all the browns, oranges, blues and greys. Whoever was in charge of the art, music, props, and wardrobe knew what they were doing. Kudos to them... especially for the rock of the late 70's that pervaded the soundtrack.

Speaking of the soundtrack, this was where I felt a lot of the homage to Spielburg came into play. Sure, the overall premise of a family adventure movie set with a light scifi backdrop is patent Steven, but the score (separate from the rock music) reminded me of ET and The Goonies the most.

Overall, there's a lot to love about this film. It teases its monster reveal in just the right way, has plenty of emotional complexity to work with (especially when it comes to Joe and Alice and their relationships with their fathers), and is just one of those odd films where everything comes together. It's a movie so perfect in its self-contained universe that I'd never, ever want a sequel or remake.

It's just that good.

If Super 8 isn't in your queue already, I recommend you put it there, at the top of your list, right now. It's the kind of film that only gets better the more you watch it, and is pretty darn close to perfect in its first viewing.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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