I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Super 8 (2011)

There were moments in the last year or so when I thought that Super 8 would be one of the best movies in film history. Then there were times when I got unsure and thought it might just bomb. I was kind of tense going to the midnight showing last night, afraid that the movie would just be forgettable in the long run. The final verdict: Super 8 is one of my favorite movies that I've ever seen.

I'm not saying that Super 8 is better than films like E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind (of course, I'm not saying that it is worse either). What I am saying is that Super 8 reached me in a way that those movies simply couldn't right now. I brought up E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind specifically because Super 8 has to be understood, at least partially, as an homage to classic Steven Spielberg/Amblin Entertainment. The thing that is interesting about Super 8 is that the homage to Steven Spielberg is executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Writer/director J.J. Abrams' references to the past works of Steven Spielberg, specifically E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jurassic Park, are much more artful than the status quo J.J. Abrams references, which can be obvious and occasionally a little cheap. I think we can honestly say, having seen Super 8, that Abrams has essentially resurrected the classic vibe that made us love Spielberg in the first place. I think it is important that Spielberg has gone on to tackle important issues, especially the plight of the Jews in the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, but something has been lost in the world of film since Spielberg stopped doing films that filled audiences, old and young alike, with childish wonder. I used to think that Shyamalan would fill those shoes, but as films like The Last Airbender prove, he absolutely cannot fill those shoes. Abrams brings us the Spielberg we know and love, but he does so in a non-conservative, even radical, new way. He innovates while showing great respect for the past, and if you ask me, that's how you make a film.

There's also a great deal of fantastic Abrams themes like forgiving the unforgivable, the importance of family, unexpected heroism, hope, belief, and understanding differences. On the down side, there were enough lens flairs to offend even a die-hard Abrams fan like me. But I'll ignore the lens flair because this is a peak performance for J.J. Abrams, not to mention Spielberg and the entire cast of the movie.

See Super 8. It's the best movie of the year so far.

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