REVIEW: Super 8

12 06 2011

I’m not exactly a romantic or a nostalgic, but I have to admit that I sure wish summer movies looked a lot more like they did back in the ’80s.  There are very few visionaries who take on blockbuster entertainment anymore, and save Christopher Nolan, you really can’t sell a movie on a director like you could with fearless masters like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.  Few movies nowadays can produce the same wide-eyed wonder as classics like “Star Wars” and “E.T.” (in my mind, “Inception” is this generation’s equivalent).

But J.J. Abrams, the man who made us want to get “Lost” and made “Star Trek” cool again, is definitely trying to bring back some of that Spielbergian magic (and thus put his name on the poster) with “Super 8,” a movie that feels like it would have been a great way to spend $3 on a hot summer day in 1982.  It’s the kind of movie that a studio lets a director make after they deliver a big franchise hit, a true passion project that proves difficult to market because it has to be sold on Abrams’ name and story.  Using his suspense techniques from “Lost,” the character development of “Star Trek,” and the all-powerful weapon that is nostalgia, Abrams crafts a blast-from-the-past sci-fi movie that brings some substance and style back to a genre that has gone too long without it.

In fact, “Super 8” may be the first neo-Spielbergian movie as Abrams grew up on the director’s early classics and is now using his maturity and filmmaking bravura to pay homage and honor to his style.  Yet while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, Abrams doesn’t just stick to Spielberg’s conventions like white on rice.  Rather, he expands upon them and takes them further to make his story appeal to a new generation of moviegoers while also maintaing the timeless appeal that made Spielberg’s movies so enchanting.

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