‘Super 8’ DVD Review

Director: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler

Plot: Following a train crash in a small American town, strange happenings indicate that something extra-terrestrial was being carried on the train.

Review: There are many things that Abrams can do well. He make create realistic, interesting characters in unusual circumstances, he can tap into retro film styles without resorting to gimmicky concepts and he can draw intrigue from his viewers as though he was using a syringe. All of these talents are used to strong effect in his latest film. On the flip side of the coin, so his is major weakness – he doesn’t know how to use suspense.

He’s brilliant at generating suspense. Beginning with imaginative marketing campaigns riddled with easter eggs that lead fans on mad goose chases without giving away any real part of the plot (and all the extra information that fans glean turn out to have no impact on viewing the film at all). During his movies (including Cloverfield) he keeps the big reveals held in check by sneaking glimpses and diversions until the final act. This is the point where things get let down, however, as the reveal never feels like the pay-off we’ve been built up to expect. After the immense build up in Cloverfield we got a big alien monster. However, in Super 8 we build up to it being…a big alien monster. Neither of which has any particularly interesting design and unique qualities.

Although the pay-off to the big mystery is severely lacking, the rest of the movie is fantastic. The casting of the young actors is superb, with them all putting in genuine, heartfelt performances. The rest of the cast and use of the setting is also well realised and while suspension of disbelief gets stretched to breaking point when the massive amounts of flying debris fail to land of anyone at all it’s easy to get absorbed in the story and the characters.

The amount of story that Abrams came up with does not quite fill the running time of the movie as it does occasionally feel padded, but the characters are so well created and developed it’s easy to let this slide.