Super 8 (12A)

Film

Science fiction

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Aug 2 2011

Is it just nationalist fervour, or has a low-budget British effort from a first-time director actually beaten the cream of Hollywood at their own game? ‘Super 8’ has a solid pedigree – written and directed by ‘Lost’ creator JJ Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg – but in an ’80s-referencing, kids-v-aliens action smackdown, it’d lose badly to our very own ‘Attack the Block’.

The links between the two films are notable: both feature gangs of pop-culture-savvy teens who come up against an intergalactic menace and both pay direct homage to the post-‘Star Wars’, pre-CGI golden age of kid-friendly genre cinema. But where Joe Cornish’s Brixton-set barnstormer used these influences as a springboard for a pacy, socially conscious comedy-horror, Abrams’s small-town sci-fi fantasy seems hamstrung by its director’s desire to pay glowing tribute to his cinematic heroes.

‘Super 8’ opens strongly, as a gang of youths led by recently bereaved SFX nut Joe (Joel Courtney) and bullish wannabe director Charles (Riley Griffiths) set out to make a DIY zombie movie for a local film festival and accidentally photograph a devastating train crash. It’s not long before the army shows up, people begin to disappear and Joe and his friends are caught in the middle of a military cover-up.

There’s plenty to recommend here: the train crash sequence is stunning, a thunderous and nail-biting  display of special effects wizardry and directorial flair. The young actors are great too, notably an icily imposing performance from Elle Fanning as the troubled object of Joe’s romantic desires. Abrams’s script sparkles in a handful of overlapping, Spielbergian suburban dialogue scenes and it’s sprinkled with choice one-liners.

But as the plot contrivances pile up, Abrams finds it impossible to maintain either the quality or the tension. The humour descends from snappy, believable banter to broad ‘Goonies’-style slapstick – kids shrieking and falling over – while the emotional scenes plummet from the wonderfully terse, tight-lipped tragedy of the prologue to pure, manipulative schmaltz. Worst of all, the alien subplot is tiresome and derivative, leading to a laughable sub-‘ET’ finale.

It seems churlish to deride as unoriginal a film intended so clearly as homage, but the likes of ‘Attack the Block’ prove you can be both familiar and fresh. ‘Super 8’ doesn’t even try, content to let our nostalgic memories of better movies fill in the blank spaces in the script. The result is a diverting but rather pointless affair, undermined by its obsessive and clinical commitment to recreating past glories. Bring on ‘Attack the Block 2’.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Aug 5, 2011

Duration:

111 mins

Cast and crew

Producer:

Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams

Cast:

Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka

Screenwriter:

JJ Abrams

Director:

JJ Abrams

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:9
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|26
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John Cooper

As one would expect, Tom Huddleston  gets it wrong  and overrates this movie . . . The problem with this

film is that it panders to  trendy left-wing politics  whereby  a teenage thug is transformed into a knight in shining armour  after taking on alien invaders.  These alien invaders reminded me of Dennis the Menace's dog

Gnasher  ( in The Beano )    . . . and its this comic book humour which is one of the more successful elements in the movie.

What is less appealing is its simplistic take on inner city problems and its facile attempts to ingratiate itself

with a teenage audience who will impressed by the script's command of  urban verncular and street slang.

That said, the film has energy and pace, and anyone who has been to a South London `sink` school will

recognise the characters, especially the putative anti-hero Moses,  who  begins the film as a unconscienable

mugger and ends it as an alien-slaying hero. 

Mel Green

Promising premise and I am no sic fi fan but appealed due to growing up in the 80's. On the edge of being an okay film- the ingrediants are there- promising good actors, bearable storyline and script but it feels like it never fully materialises. This is so unfortunate as it has the makings of a good film but leaves you feeling like you should watch the Goonies to aleviate the emptyness left once the film ends. Disappointing

Thomas Noctor

Worth a watch, good special effects and a good story line. Nothing really bad to say here and as a bonus, there are a few laughs too. Well made!!

Dave A

I watch a lot of films of all types (except chick-flicks which i avoid like the plague). Some I watch with my grandchildren and, believe me, I have sat through some serious crap - "Mr Popper's Penguins" being the most recent (God, I detest Jim Carrey). I went to "Super 8" with my grandson and with the usual rock-bottom expectations. Surprise! I actually didn't hate it! In fact I quite liked it - of it's type it is very watchable, with a decent story and good acting by the young cast. has gone a little way to restore my faith in under 18 targeted films.

ecstaticfilmgoer

I agree with a lot of the comments here - I didn't enjoy Attack the Block at all, despite really, really wanting to, as I loved Adam and Joe and I thought the kids in the film gave great performances. But they were nowhere near as great as the kids in Super 8. Super 8 was gorgeous from start to finish - the minor issue of there being something missing story-wise near the end didn't really detract from the wonderfulness of feeling like it was 1979. It is miles better than both Attack the Block and Avatar! I loved it.

ecstaticfilmgoer

I agree with a lot of the comments here - I didn't enjoy Attack the Block at all, despite really, really wanting to, as I loved Adam and Joe and I thought the kids in the film gave great performances. But they were nowhere near as great as the kids in Super 8. Super 8 was gorgeous from start to finish - the minor issue of there being something missing story-wise near the end didn't really detract from the wonderfulness of feeling like it was 1979. It is miles better than both Attack the Block and Avatar! I loved it.

Ed

Action packed, brilliantly nostalgic homage to Steven Spielberg. Basically it's The Goonies meets ET meets Close Encounters with a bit of JJ Abrams Cloverfield. A lot of fun although doesn't quite reach the emotional heights of Spielberg at his best.

gainsb1

A thoroughly enjoyable family film. Great acting from the kids and did you notice that the film definition is definitely NOT HD? Spielberg and co. seem to have made it deliberately "grainy" to capture the 1970's film. Yes, before reading all these reviews I twigged that it was a remake of E.T. but, so what? Lots of films are being re-made and are strikingly similar in plot, characters and script. At least this one has sufficient differences from E.T. to make it enjoyable... and I am 53 years old. Don't analyze this too much, just enjoy it.... even if the ending is a little predictable.

long cat

Weak drivel with some irritating kids in it. Every so often Spielberg gets one wrong and sadly despite all the expectations this is one

scotty

Its a shame that you did not understand the premise here Critique(must have been an entertaining christening). And an asexuul name,so I know not if you are male or female.This entire site is a forum for opinion.So every one is giving their opinion as they see it.As a matter of reinforcing it I chose to say "here are the facts" !! clearly that is in 'my opinion' the very concept is beyond you it seems.the 'fact' i wrote it,in turn purveys my opinion,again,in fact. So lets be off with you now,and hey,I'm not angry.You wouldn't like me when I'm angry(another movie refference in case you missed it) Again---------ATTACK THE BLOCK WAS ROTTEN- Suoper 8 was outstanding-Huddlestone will be comparing cowboys and aliens to Dr Who next....

scotty

Its a shame that you did not understand the premise here Critique(must have been an entertaining christening). And an asexuul name,so I know not if you are male or female.This entire site is a forum for opinion.So every one is giving their opinion as they see it.As a matter of reinforcing it I chose to say "here are the facts" !! clearly that is in 'my opinion' the very concept is beyond you it seems.the 'fact' i wrote it,in turn purveys my opinion,again,in fact. So lets be off with you now,and hey,I'm not angry.You wouldn't like me when I'm angry(another movie refference in case you missed it) Again---------ATTACK THE BLOCK WAS ROTTEN- Suoper 8 was outstanding-Huddlestone will be comparing cowboys and aliens to Dr Who next....

Nefertiiti

Lovely move, lovely acting my the kids, lovely action scenes and wow moments. I was on the edge of my seat for half of the movie time. I really enjoyed it and don't think any other movie will top this one this year.

Jane

I went with my 81 yr old Mum, my sister and my two early teenage daughters. I really enjoyed it - the banter between the kids is great and the special effects are good - though the alien story line is daft. It is quite scary for a 12A and the kids enjoyed it. The only person underwhelmed was my Mum who said it was 'just okay'. Worth a view I would say.

scotty

ATTACK THE BLOCK????????????? SERIOUSLY HUDDLESTONE???? ARE YOU DOING THIS ON PURPOSE-- i bet you enjoyed GIGLI.............THAT FILM (attack the block)WAS A -5 OUT OF 5. YES MINUS FIVE .It was awfull-utter rubbish and served to convince me that our efforts quite rightly so are dwarved by the big USA studio pieces.It infuriates me when critics seek to attack the hollywood machine just to boost their infantile "get me,I'm a critic" credibility with their contemporaries while the rest of us queue up night after night to see the biggies. attack the block was worse than the pretend movie within this film,the super8 real that accompanies the end creditts on 'super 8 _ about zombies(it had better production values-chuckle)'Its ludicrous to suggest that a weak poorly acted jumpy camera unbelieveable nonsense follow up to an episode of torchwood(attack the block)can even be mentioned in the same sentence as one of the finest alien genre movies in years,up there with ID4 E.T. close encounters, war or the worlds. And ofcourse because of the kids, the goonies influence is there too...Here are some facts 1-Amercans are better than us(brits) at blockbusters(thats why our and their mags and blogs are full of them. 2)super 8 is the best film since AVATAR 3) Huddlestone hates money spent on movies assuming that their budget instantly deems them to be inferior 'stories' than low budget dribble 4)if you have an ounce of sentiment and you yearn for feel good action charactor driven movies with great humour and a big monster chucked in-then relax and enjoy 2011's only 5 star film so far...................... attack the block my a**e

scotty

ATTACK THE BLOCK????????????? SERIOUSLY HUDDLESTONE???? ARE YOU DOING THIS ON PURPOSE-- i bet you enjoyed GIGLI.............THAT FILM (attack the block)WAS A -5 OUT OF 5. YES MINUS FIVE .It was awfull-utter rubbish and served to convince me that our efforts quite rightly so are dwarved by the big USA studio pieces.It infuriates me when critics seek to attack the hollywood machine just to boost their infantile "get me,I'm a critic" credibility with their contemporaries while the rest of us queue up night after night to see the biggies. attack the block was worse than the pretend movie within this film,the super8 real that accompanies the end creditts on 'super 8 _ about zombies(it had better production values-chuckle)'Its ludicrous to suggest that a weak poorly acted jumpy camera unbelieveable nonsense follow up to an episode of torchwood(attack the block)can even be mentioned in the same sentence as one of the finest alien genre movies in years,up there with ID4 E.T. close encounters, war or the worlds. And ofcourse because of the kids, the goonies influence is there too...Here are some facts 1-Amercans are better than us(brits) at blockbusters(thats why our and their mags and blogs are full of them. 2)super 8 is the best film since AVATAR 3) Huddlestone hates money spent on movies assuming that their budget instantly deems them to be inferior 'stories' than low budget dribble 4)if you have an ounce of sentiment and you yearn for feel good action charactor driven movies with great humour and a big monster chucked in-then relax and enjoy 2011's only 5 star film so far...................... attack the block my a**e

Sutton

A popcorn movie. There are a number of clichés contained within and it is a film torn between being ET and Aliens, nevertheless, it is a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours on a wet Sunday.

BobbyM

Wonderful warm meditation on the cinematic creation of Art and life. the stripped down plot allows for the detail of the nuanced dailougue and images to shine through. much to recommend here

Chris

Yes, it is your nationalist fervour. I do not get why UK critics think Attack the block is that great! It is not. It is just an Ok limited fun-popcorn movie. The plot is as basic as Super 8's, the characters are very cliché (with no surprising development: "Ah yeah, the bad black boy is not that bad and, wait, actually, he bounds with the white woman by the end! What a shocker!" Give me a break, please...), all is very superficial and just in order to have an instant blast (the short running time proves it). Attack the block is just an average movie. Just like Super 8. So the fact it is British does not make it any better.

John N Lon

For those of us older than we care to admit, this film covers some very familiar ground. Goonies band of kids saving the day? Check. Close Encounters military-style operation to get rid of the pesky public? Check. ET needs to go home? Check. There were some genuinely funny moments and characters (Pyromaniac Kid should get his own series), but the schmaltzy "emotional" scene did seem a little contrived but hey - no films perfect. All in all, one which the kids should enjoy (& the adults too, as long as theyn don't take it too seriously).

s ford

Nothing terrible but nothing truly spectacular. One could state it's a hommage but it could also been seen as a unoriginal reliance on tested cliches; everything in Super 8 was sourced from other material. Despite a few enjoyable moments for the more considered cinephile there's little to keep and maintain interest to save Super 8 from being boring...

Evie

The best blockbuster of the summer so far. Thoroughly enjoyable nostalgia trip.

scrumpyjack

Excellent train crash, good rest of film. 3 star about right...now, T.O. what's this silly obsession of pretending ATTACK THE BLOCK is any good? It's fair in a sort of HORRID HENRY way, but that's it. Why then keep banging on about it? Most can see it for what it is other than most critics - watch with six pack and brain in neutral fodder....Knock it off, this is FAR superior. A good (not SUPER) 7/10

PATRICK

CRASH BANG WALLOP- AND MORE BANGS. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS [people go missing] WITH A BIT OF E.T. ~ BUT THE ALIEN IS LOOKALIKE 'Alien' films. ... Needs to be told it can go home - ... goes home THE END >>Shame on you $pie£berg (Producer)

Norman Lowther

A terrific homage by JJ to the Master of kids(of all ages) films SS ! Please reviewers don't try to give sophisticated analysis just go & enjoy a super gr8 movie !

Gort

I watched this movie before I proclaimed that Spielberg is dead for me as film maker otherwise I would not have watched it. JJ Abrams in his "Super 8" wanted to film this supposed desire that 8 year-olds have of making the movie by making a movie that he supposedly deliberately made like it was actually made by 8 year old, but the problem is that majority of mainstream mainstream movies already look like they are made by 8 year old kids. The whole movie would be laughably bad as a pastiche of Spielberg clichés but because it is labeled as a "tribute to mr. Spielberg" it's not buried by critics and audience. JJ Abrams is pulling the same thing Tarantino did with "Inglorious Bastards" that the whole point of the movie is to show that Tarantino is a movie fan. Well I guess in this JJ wanted to say that he is Spielberg fan. And for Spielberg it's his shameless narcissistic self promotion.