'Super 8': the mystery revealed?
‘What is Super 8?’ has been the question on every nerd’s lips for over a year now. Since the first, enigmatic trailer emerged, offering brief glimpses of train crashes and alien escapes, and naming its director as JJ Abrams, international master of mystery following his success with ‘Lost’, audiences have been clamouring to know more
Gradually, details began to emerge. The film would be Abrams’s tribute to his cinematic hero Steven Spielberg (who produces 'Super 8'). It would be a rites-of-passage tale set in a small 1970s town, where a group of movie-obsessed kids come up against an alien force, and an ensuing military invasion.
And while British audiences will frustratingly have to
wait until August 5 to find out all the answers, ‘Super 8’ will be
released in America this weekend, and early reviews are looking positive. The film currently has an 82 per cent rating on aggregate website Rotten
Tomatoes – though that could just mean the reviews have been generally decent,
not necessarily glowing.
Our own Time Out New York review by Joshua Rothkopf certainly bears this out, giving the film a reasonable three stars but bemoaning its ‘depressing lack of intellectual heft’ and describing it as a ‘shrieky adventure’.
As with most reviews of the film, Rothkopf takes pains not to go too deeply into the nature of the alien menace threatening our heroes, though some articles do seem to suggest that the monster's escape is not an accident. Reading between the lines, it also seems that the alien angle is very much secondary to Abrams’s intention to make a movie about kids coming of age, and so the idea that 'Super 8' is an ‘Alien’-style monster-on-the-loose horror flick may, in fact, be a red herring. Might this monster just be misunderstood?
Perhaps the most glowing review comes from Time Magazine’s
Richard Corliss ,
who calls it ‘the year’s most thrilling, feeling mainstream movie’. Also on
side is Jo Blo’s JimmyO , who
calls it ‘a thrilling return to movie magic of old, filled with wonder, horror
But few reviewers are so openly enthusiastic: the overall opinion seems to be that while ‘Super 8’ has charm and talent to spare, it’s a little too nakedly obsessed with recreating that nostalgic, Spielbergian world of childlike wonder. The film’s handful of outright bad reviews – such as from Peter DeBruge at Variety – focus largely on its lack of new ideas, and even some of the positive reviews feel that the film would have been stronger had it possessed a little more originality: Jim Jejvoda at IGN praises the film’s craft but feels that ‘it's filled with one too many Starlog Magazine references’, while Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter agrees that ‘the ingredients are pure Spielberg from the first ten-15 years of his career’.
But these seem like fairly minor quibbles: the overall
critical response is overwhelmingly positive, and shouldn’t dampen audience
anticipation in advance of the film’s UK release. We will, of course, be
running a review when ‘Super 8’ finally hits our screens, so watch this space
(if you’re not too busy watching the skies…).
Author: Tom Huddleston
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’