Super 8 was supposed to be quite the big event back in 2011. J.J. Abrams at the peak of his power working with Steven Spielberg to make a Spielberg style throwback movie? This was a decade ago and it was pretty novel. Naturally, that didn’t last. What I ask all this time is later why not? Everyone screams about wanting original properties. Is it just that they didn’t want to evoke anything related to the past?
Steven Spielberg has had more flops than hits recently. As someone of my age, that has been a bizarre thing to watch. But, he’s been making movies like if Billy Wilder had blockbuster tastes in the late 1960s. Who in the 2010s wants a Roald Dahl CG fest adaptation or a cunning look at the Washington Post? While they don’t match what’s currently being outputted into cinemas, the audience for that material isn’t clear.
But, Super 8 was an alien invasion movie. Well, one alien invading a small town. People love that. That is until they’ve had it for decades and tastes change. Is that a bad thing? I’m not sure if I can use Super 8 as a barometer of people either maturing or just being fickle. The kick is that it shows what plays for the big business side of cinematic exhibition.
J.J. Abrams was never quite the same after this. To even try and give him credit for how Lost ended is to take credit away from Lindelof and Cuse. At this point, he was 5 years past working with Tom Cruise and he had his toe firmly in Star Trek waters. It kinda makes sense that he went from Super 8 to Star Wars in a short amount of time. Especially, when you can read what’s going on underneath the covers of Super 8.
Alien encounter movies during the Carter Administration are fascinating to me. Honestly, I’m a big student of Americana and how our entertainment responds to the zeitgeist. Coming out of Watergate and right before the greed of the 1980s, things were lost. So when Star Wars hit, it blew up everything in terms of Sci-Fi. No more preachy movies about Bruce Dern and robots recycling in space. This was about having fun and saving the day.
What sucks is how Super 8 never fully commits to the kids past the main narrative. The end credits showcases the Super 8 movie that they were making throughout the film. It seemed like an important point given that the film was named after their film stock. But, that’s where the curse of the postmodern film appreciation comes into play.
Looking back fondly at the 1970s is naturally against what the source films were about, well when they weren’t looking back to the 1950s or earlier. It’s like some bizarre Plato thought exercise about this never ending cinematic cave where constant observation keeps botching what we’re attempting to do. So, we end up creating more films that can’t being the same mistakes about the past.
There is this thing about modern audiences of any era and how they respond to throwback films ala Super 8. No one wants to be reminded of something they observed. Every audience member comes into a film with a degree of nostalgia and a desire to see what they know onscreen. Call it whatever you want, but the average person will even project themselves into Sci-Fi fantasy about aliens with widget spacecraft.
I love that Paramount saw fit to revisit Super 8 for its 10th anniversary with a 4K UHD disc. What bugs me the most while watching this movie is how something as recent as Super 8 can be so easily disposed by an oversaturated audience. Talking with readers, I find people of various ages that can’t remember movies from 2017/2018. It’s not their fault as more and more media options keep emerging to capture attention.
The Super 8 4K UHD comes with two hours of special features. A lot of it was recycled material from the original Blu-ray. You get a commentary, featurettes and a ton of deleted scenes. The real winner here is that stunning 4K UHD transfer. We took screenshots to show off the transfer, but don’t let that overpower the vivacious Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track.
You will believe a train can crash outside of a small town and let an alien escape. Pick up Super 8 today!