Super 8: The Goonies for a new generation

Perhaps the best film to come out of this summer's overloaded-bloated-budget-fondue-pot

This summer has been rather top heavy when it comes to films. Whilst most have left Paul and me feeling a bit “meh” (apart from Thor and X-Men: First Class, which we both thoroughly enjoyed), Super 8 managed to shake off the trend that we’d been seeing with Hollywood’s output this year. While not treading over any new ground (seriously, it’s kinda difficult to be original) J.J. Abrams’s handling of the script and the direction has produced what I would class as his best film to date.

Essentially this is a buddy movie with kids and teens in mind that manages to be more than just style and special effects – there’s substance too. Why a comparison with The Goonies? It’s mainly due to the exploration by Abrams of the dynamics between a group of young people. The sense of adventure, fear, wonder, surprises and real life issues is certainly kept at a similar – if not improved – level in Super 8, making it (despite its setting of several decades ago) a spiritual successor to The Goonies, as a buddy movie for young people. Interestingly, Steven Spielberg had a hand in both The Goonies (helping to forumlate the story) and Super 8 (he’s one of the producers).

(Yes, I know I’m playing with what most people perceive as the definition of a buddy movie, but quite frankly, a film about friends sounds kinda naff.)

However, the film doesn’t just borrow themes and stylings from The Goonies. You got a feeling of Cloverfield from the film (Abrams was a producer on that) and then other films that he didn’t have a part in like District 9 and Son of Rambow. Super 8 doesn’t necessarily do anything better than either of these films, but is extremely good at combing elements and themes from them.

I feel like I’m selling the film short by ending my thoughts on it here, the thing is: I don’t want to spoil Super 8 for you. If you manage to see it whilst it’s on release in cinemas, you will find yourself watching one of the best films to come out this summer, because it does a lot of things right. Nothing feels forced in this film, suspense and drama are eked out in just the right way and you feel for the characters of the film.

And on a final note: the film is not about superheroes. The name Super 8 refers to a kind of film that used to be used a lot for home movies and is still used to an extent in professional and amateur filmmaking circles.

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