Super 8 Film Review 2011 Movie

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The Magic of Nostalgia: Super 8’s Journey Back to the Past

In the vast realm of pop culture, few things hold our attention quite like nostalgia. It has the power to transport us back to a time when things seemed simpler and ignite a sense of longing for the past. J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, a meticulously crafted film, embraces this nostalgia and takes us on a captivating journey through the lens of a group of friends in the summer of 1979.

The Allure of Nostalgia

It’s undeniable that nostalgia sells. In the 2010s, we witnessed a wave of movies and TV shows capitalizing on audience members’ childhood memories, from the Star Wars sequels to Netflix’s Stranger Things. However, not all projects handle nostalgia with the same finesse. Super 8 shines as a film that beautifully incorporates nostalgia into its storytelling, without relying solely on old references.

In Super 8, a group of friends embarks on a mission to create the greatest zombie movie for a film festival competition using a Super-8 camera. Their plans take an unexpected turn when they witness a horrifying train accident and realize they can incorporate the aftermath into their production. As strange occurrences unfold in their small town, the young filmmakers, alongside local Deputy Jackson Lamb, explore uncovering the terrifying truth behind the train accident.

The Controversial Brilliance of J.J. Abrams

As a filmmaker, J.J. Abrams has always been a subject of controversy. From Lost’s disputed ending to his involvement in Star Trek and Star Wars, Abrams continuously fuels discussions. Yet, amid the debates, his filmography reveals a passion for storytelling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Despite accusations of recycling ideas, Abrams maintains the essence and core themes that made iconic franchises what they are.

Super 8 exemplifies Abrams’ mastery of nostalgia. It’s a movie that unabashedly embraces its love for films and the process of filmmaking. Executive producer Steven Spielberg, a legendary figure in the realm of cinema, collaborates with Abrams to honor their own childhood experiences of creating amateur films with Super-8 cameras. This passion shines through the young cast of child actors who infuse their characters with a vibrant charm.

The Charismatic Young Cast

Super 8’s notable performances come from Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb, Riley Griffiths as Charles Kaznyk, and Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard. While their roles may fit within familiar archetypes, the young actors bring these characters to life with their endearing, awkward charisma. Although other child actors round out the cast, these three receive the most development and personality, offering genuine character arcs that engage the audience.

The Vision Comes to Life

Collaboration among the entire filmmaking team brings J.J. Abrams’ vision to fruition in Super 8. Director of photography Larry Fong and production designer Martin Whist work alongside Abrams to create a world that immerses the audience in the film’s nostalgic atmosphere. Fong’s cinematography draws inspiration from Spielberg’s style, strategically revealing the alien creature in a Jaws-esque fashion and capturing moments that evoke wonder and fear. The meticulously crafted small town in Ohio, brought to life by Whist’s keen eye for capturing the essence of the time period, adds a vibrant backdrop to the story.

A Tale of Similarities: Super 8 and Stranger Things

It would be remiss not to mention the obvious comparison between Super 8 and the immensely popular TV series, Stranger Things. Both narratives revolve around a group of kids stumbling upon a sinister creature, while government officials attempt to cover up the truth. Local deputies find themselves drawn into the mysteries, and people and objects disappear. Even visual cues in Super 8 bear a resemblance to those in Stranger Things, with flickering lights signaling the presence of danger. Both works tap into the nostalgia associated with the 70s and 80s, celebrating the films of that era and the sense of wonder they inspired.

Yet, what sets Super 8 apart is its ability to pay homage to its influences while maintaining its unique story. While both Super 8 and Stranger Things make references to the music and films that shaped them, Super 8 seamlessly weaves these elements into the fabric of the narrative, ensuring that the story remains at the forefront.

Flaws and Untapped Potential

Despite its many strengths, Super 8 is not without flaws. One common criticism of Abrams’ work is his tendency to build intriguing mysteries that often fall short in terms of payoff or fail to meet sky-high expectations. Super 8 presents a relatively straightforward mystery: the origins of the creature, its purpose, and the government’s pursuit. While the film provides answers, they may not leave the audience feeling entirely satisfied. This may stem from the disjointed nature of the storylines, which struggle to seamlessly merge into a cohesive whole.

Another aspect that falls slightly short is the development of the relationships between the leads and their fathers. Although there is emotional resolution for these characters, it owes more to the stellar performances than the script itself. The connectivity issue between the adult and child characters prevents audiences from fully immersing themselves in the characters’ journeys. Nevertheless, the bittersweet ending leaves an impact, even if it could have been more powerful with further exploration.

A Poignant Exploration of Letting Go

Super 8’s core themes revolve around the idea of letting go, making peace with the past, and embracing the future. As a family-centered, coming-of-age thriller infused with elements of horror, the film successfully balances its various components. While it may not be considered Abrams’ magnum opus, it holds a unique place in his filmography as an underappreciated gem.

Looking back, Super 8 serves as a love letter to Spielberg’s filmography and blockbuster cinema in general. It flawlessly captures a sense of nostalgia without falling into the trap of excessive homage. It stands as evidence that many artists drew inspiration from it in the years to come, whether intentionally or not.

A Wholesome Choice for Halloween

October offers a vast array of genre films to choose from, catering to various preferences. For those seeking a heartfelt story with a focus on characters rather than supernatural scares, Super 8 is a worthy choice. This flawed yet stylish film, driven by good intentions, reminds us of the importance of cherishing the ones we hold dear.


Super 8 encapsulates the enchantment of nostalgia, inviting audiences to recapture the joy and wonder of their own childhoods through the eyes of its young protagonists. It celebrates the magic of filmmaking while delivering an engaging narrative that combines elements of mystery, thrills, and heartfelt emotions. J.J. Abrams, with his controversial reputation, demonstrates his undeniable talent in crafting a story that resonates with audiences on multiple levels. Super 8 may not be flawless, but it stands as a testament to the enduring power of nostalgia in the world of cinema.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Super 8 a horror film?

No, Super 8 can be categorized as a family-centered, coming-of-age thriller with elements of horror. While it does contain suspenseful moments and eerie elements, its primary focus lies in the relationships among the characters and their personal growth.

2. How does Super 8 compare to other films influenced by