Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Written Review: Super 8 (2011)

Super 8

Director: JJ Abrams

Written by: JJ Abrams

Starring: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Ryley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Kyle Chandler, Bruce Greenwood

Year: 2011

Score: 4/4

Every year, there is always one film that you know will go on to be a classic, a film that will, in years to come, be looked back on as one of the defining movies of its generation. In '08, we had "The Dark Knight". In '09, we had "500 Days of Summer" (that movie has some of the most original and artistic directorial work I've seen in YEARS). Last year, we had "Inception" (which I consider to be this generation's "Blade Runner"). And now, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this year, in 2011, that movie is "Super 8". Today, I was planning on writing my review of "The Green Lantern" (which will most likely be up tomorrow), but after coming back from seeing this movie, I knew I HAD to write a review. This is one of those movies where after viewing it, I felt I couldn't resist talking about it; in short, this is a movie people NEED to see.

I'm going to start this review out by saying that I think JJ Abrams is this generation's Steven Spielberg; and I don't mean the new Spielberg that only really produces, I mean the old classic Spielberg. The brilliant man who's imagination seemed to know no end. The man who gave us "The Goonies", "Jaws", "Jurassic Park", and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (all of which are some of my favourite movies of all time). Spielberg's movies have pretty much shaped my childhood, and he's one of the four directors who made me want to be a filmmaker (the other three being Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and George Lucas). As JJ Abrams kept churning out true quality movies and TV shows, I found myself becoming a bigger and bigger fan. "Alias" was an absolutely fantastic TV show that had me hooked from the start, "Lost" was great during the first season (although I pretty much gave up on it after the second), "Cloverfield" was one of the best monster movies I've ever seen, "Mission: Impossible 3" is in my opinion the best M:I movie by far, and "Star Trek" was one of my favourite movies of 2009 (a FAR better sci-fi flick than both "Avatar" and "District 9"). However, I think "Super 8" is his best work, by a mile. The directorial style and atmosphere of the movie is so reminiscent of Spielberg's early work (particularly "The Goonies"), that I feel like I'm a small child again, being captivated by a movie in a way I haven't been since I first saw "Jaws" and "Star Wars" as a kid. That's a feeling that I don't get often, and because he was able to get that emotional reaction out of me, Abrams has officially found himself to be one of my favourite directors.

The script is nothing short of spectacular. The dialogue is crisp, intelligent, and believable. The narrative flows perfectly, taking time for us to get invested in the main characters before it wraps up. The quality of writing that was put into this movie is nothing short of amazing, and I can't think of any other movie this year that has moved me to happiness, to suspense, to laughter, and nearly to tears in the span of about 2 hours. The last movie that did that so effectively for me is "Chasing Amy", and let me say that holding "Super 8" on the same pedestal is a VERY high compliment that I rarely give.

Now we get to one of the best things about the film: the acting. Specifically, the acting from the main kids. I really do hope to see these kids in more movies after this, because their performances were nothing short of amazing. They all had great chemistry together (so good, that you really believe they've been friends their whole life). The way these kids work together is actually one of the main reasons why I consider this movie to be "The Goonies" of this generation. While all the kids do a fantastic job, the top three were definately Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, and Riley Griffiths. Courtney displays an immense talent for acting here, often times out-acting the adults who are on screen with him. Griffiths has great comedic timing and wit that you don't see in alot of kid actors these days, yet also brings with him a great commanding presence that even some adult actors don't quite have. The person who really steals the show, however, is Elle Fanning (yes, Dakota Fanning's sister). Fanning absolutely steals every scene she's in, and brings out most of the emotional highlights of the movie. I hope to see her in more stuff like this, because based on what I saw here, she might be an even better actress than her older sister (not to mention she's one of the cutest blondes I've ever seen).

The adult actors are also fantastic. Kyle Chandler is probabely the best of the adults as Jackson, the hero of the movie (not the main character, but in many ways the hero). He shows great range and talent while playing a very three-dimensional character. At times you hate him for being too hard on his son for hanging out with Elle Fanning's character, and yet at times you feel great sympathy for him as he goes to great lengths to save his son and his town. That's the mark of a great performance right there, and the scene where he finally has a conversation with the man who is responsible for his wife's death is one of the most thoughtful and moving scenes of the film. As for the other actors, Bruce Greenwood is a delight (as always) to see, and Noel Emmerich plays a great villain. Overall, the acting couldn't have been better.

Overall, "Super 8" has officially replaced "X-Men: First Class" as my favourite movie of the year. Everything about this movie is executed perfectly, and also has great nostalgia value for me, since I used to make alot of super 8 films growing up. This is a movie that you absolutely cannot pass up the opportunity to see, it's an entertaining and emotional experience that will most likely stick with you long after leaving the theatre.

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