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Super 8 4K Review

“Super 8” starts strong but falls apart in the end.

“Super 8” (which is celebrating its 10th anniversary) revolves around the lead character of Joe- a young boy who recently lost his mother to a steel factory accident. Joe struggles with the loss and is having a hard time connected to his Deputy father who is ill prepared to raise him by himself. Joe spends much of his time with his 4 friends Charles, Martin, Cary, and Preston. Charles is making a super 8 zombie movie and recruits a local girl named Alice who Joe develops a crush on. While filming, the 5 kids witness a horrific train accident in which something escapes one of the train cars. Soon thereafter, chaos begins to descend upon the small Ohio town all while the U.S. Navy is seemingly trying to cover up the train crash. What are they hiding? What has been unleashed into the town?

On paper “Super 8” has everything going for it. It’s a Steven Spielberg produced Amblin production directed by J.J. Abrams that harkens back to 80s kidventure classics like “E.T.” and “The Goonies.” It has mystery, a hulking creature, lens flare, a winning cast, and perfect 80s style cinematography by Larry Fong. And yet, the J.J. Abrams scripted movie is so steeped in nostalgia that it forgets to tell its own unique story. Looking back at this movie now, it’s hard not to think about “Stranger Things” which has become the prime example of how to pay homage to kidventure classics while also being its own thing. “Super 8” is definitely not “Stranger Things.” 

The first two-thirds of the movie actually works when it focuses on Joe and Alice and the character drama about family and loss. Where the movie falls flat is with the third act rescue mission which is filled with action and characters bickering, shouting and running around. The creature feature element of this movie does not work at all. Not only is the creature hidden for much of the movie, but you barely get to see it. It almost backs an afterthought at certain points in the film. It’s not until the end where the creature becomes prominent and, at that point, you get a decidedly cheeseball Joe-creature scene which is an eye-roller. Had the audience been able to see or connect with the creature in some way, it might have been effective. As is, it just feels like Abrams rushed the ending and made the creature a big metaphor.

Thankfully, the cast makes up for some of the film’s shortcomings. Elle Fanning is far and away the best thing about the entire movie. Even when she’s acting in the movie in the super 8 movie she’s great. Joel Courtney made his film debut here and he really impresses as the soulful lead. It’s a tough task for any actor to lead a movie let alone one making his debut. Kyle Chandler (best known for “Friday Night Lights”) also shines as Joe’s father.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.40:1 2160p. How does it look? If you’re a fan of this film, the 4K is well worth the upgrade. The colors and picture clarity are noticeably sharper than Blu-ray.

Audio Track: Dolby TrueHD 7.1. How does it sound? Even though it’s a Blu-ray port, this 7.1 track delivers the goods. That train wreck sounds particularly stunning.


Extras:
* Digital copy
* 14 deleted scenes
* “Deconstructing The Train Crash”- An interactive making of the train crash sequence extra.
* Commentary by J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Larry Fong.
* “The Dream Behind Super 8”- This extra explores the personal nature of this film project to J.J. Abrams. Other elements explored here include the visual style and the story.
* “The Search For New Faces” is all about the casting.
* “Meet Joel Courtney”- A featurette on the actor.
* “Rediscovering Steel Town”- A featurette on the location shooting in West Virginia.
* “The Visitor Lives” covers the creature design.
* “Scoring Super 8” revolves around Michael Giacchino’s film score.
* “Do You Believe In Magic?” centers around Larry Fong.
* “The 8 MM Revolution”- An extra about the film format.

May 21, 2021 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , ,

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