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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Super 8’ a buffet of other famous flicks

    Super 8 a buffet of other famous flicks

    When you heard that J.J. Abrams would be working with Steven Spielberg on the sci-fi thriller “”Super 8,”” you probably knew that the film was going to be awesome.

    But what you didn’t know was that the entire movie was going to be a love letter from Abrams to Spielberg (Abrams openly admits that Spielberg is his idol). The film stars a group of small-town kids reminiscent of the cast of “”The Goonies”” And, much like Spielberg as a youngster, the kids are making an amateur zombie movie using whatever household items they find. “”Super 8″” takes place in the late 1970s, which adds a playful layer of nostalgia, and the movie gets its name from the classic “”super 8 film”” the kids use in their old-school video camera.

    Then, everything changes when the kids witness a train accident — which is traumatic for more than just the obvious reasons. Besides the impressive special effects, which allow the train to derail, explode and catch fire for what seems like five minutes, the crash sets up the action for the rest of the movie. Although the kids don’t know it yet, the train was filled with mysterious alien technology that the military hopes to keep secret.

    From there, the movie becomes a blend of familiar concepts, images and ideas — virtually all of which pay homage to Spielberg’s oeuvre. It turns out that only the children have the kind of honesty and creativity to free the trapped alien (E.T., anyone?). Likewise, the drama and mystery of the alien encounter is reminiscent of Spielberg’s “”Close Encounters of the Third Kind,”” and the thrilling pace, halting soundtrack, and half-revealed monster scenes certainly call to mind memories of “”Jaws.””

    Yet, despite its recognizable themes, “”Super 8″” blends more than just Spielbergian ideas into its complex essence. With the exception of a cliché Romeo and Juliet romance, Abrams’ creativity still shines through. And together, the two master filmmakers recycle everything you’ve seen before into something you actually haven’t. Complete with impressive performances by a cast of minors (leading lady Elle Fanning is only 13 years old and Joel Courtney makes his acting debut), “”Super 8″” is humorous, enchanting and emotionally gripping from beginning to end. And with a well-developed plot, sharp cinematography, and millions of dollars spent on special effects, it doesn’t fall short of viewers’ high expectations.

    The family-friendly ending errs a little on the corny side, but, in true J.J. Abrams style, it’ll keep you guessing all the way through. “”Super 8″” might be a hybridization of Spielberg’s other work, but there’s a reason why those movies got famous in the first place. When you put them all together, they might be familiar, but the end product is still worth seeing.

    Final Grade: B+

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